Showing up is eighty percent of life
For years, I worked as a CNA – and I absolutely loved it. If it wasn’t for the demands and time commitments of being a single mom, I’d probably still be doing it. I met some of the most interesting people of my life in nursing homes, gained so much insight, that I found it to be a true adventure.
One pitfall of that adventure though, still sticks with me, and over the last few days has seemed once again, relevant. In order to stay within state and federal requirements for the ratio of staff to patients, people would often get called in at the last minute to work for an absent co-worker, or asked to help cover during vacations. That seems like a win-win right? Extra hours/income for the worker and abiding by regulations and having adequate coverage for the employer/patients right? Not always. I’ve had more than several co-workers in those days that came in with an attitude of “just showing up”. In their minds they were there to fill a technicality, and therefore didn’t need to do anything else. Just being there was enough for them, that they needed to get paid to just show up because they were saving everyone from the state showing up on a surprise inspection and shutting the place down because we didn’t have enough staff. They would show up with a toxic attitude of entitlement that would seep into everyone else’s attitudes and greatly diminish moral and ultimately patient care.
And so began my aversion to the “just show up” mantra.
I agree that there is merit in this “just show up” idea. I don’t know how many times I’ve avoided activities just because my introverted self would much rather have some peace and quiet, and came to regret not going. Or dragged myself out of the house and an hour later being glad that I did. So, I could agree with Woody Allen’s idea of 80% of life is showing up – but I’m not really the type to settle for a B-. Then it sunk in a bit deeper over the last few days. How often do I go this route in my spiritual life? When I show up somewhere and want points just for being physically present… And why do I think that’s enough to do any good for anyone? People can show up to a gym, and yet, without actually putting forth some effort, nothing happens. While you can make your child’s day by showing up at their game, that joy quickly leaves their eye if you are so consumed by your phone or by emitting an attitude of “I wish this would get over with – and fast” that you undue any progress made by showing up.
Admittedly, I’m as guilty as anyone. Perhaps more so. But I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be the mom my children remember as showing up and yet not paying enough attention to see that great, increasingly rare, hockey goal. I don’t want to be that person who shows up to a friend’s birthday celebration late and looks at her watch between the happy birthday song and the candle going out. And I absolutely don’t want to be that person that shows up to pray at night and is preoccupied with my own bitterness of having to skip out on a TV show to spend time with God. I’ve shown up to bible study being ill prepared and frustrated over the pile of laundry left to finish when I get home. I’ve made it to church by the skin of my teeth only to waste that precious worship time looking at my watch and trying to catch my breath. I’ve left friend’s houses bitter that I was distracted with kids instead of getting to have the conversation with them I was longing to have.
I want to be who God wants me to be, and that’s so much more than just making an appearance. My bible has a comment regarding Matthew 5:9 that caught my eye, it says that peace is the absence of enmity and the presence of God’s salvation. Jesus’ disciples are to work for justice, righteousness, reconciliation and mercy as the effects of God’s salvation through Christ. That sounds like a lot more to me. It’s unnerving to think that God requires a whole new level of “showing up”, one that encompasses the entire spectrum of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. To believe that I have a responsibility in bringing my best means that I also have a choice about if I’m going to live up to that responsibility. He asks me to be vigilant, to appreciate the moment and to give Him all that I am and all that I have, all of the time. He invites me to show up, not just to say I showed up, but to bring blessing with me. To be prepared to bless others with my attention, to bless them with time and love and by bringing my best to the table.
So, yes, show up! Show up often, but show up well, which includes:
Being present: Yes, physically but also with your mind and emotions and spirit.
Focus: Contrary to popular belief, and many job descriptions, multi-tasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Health.com has an excellent article about how humans are not designed to multi-task and it harms everything from how much time we invest trying to do two things at once to the negative impacts it can have on relationships. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20707868,00.html#you-re-not-actually-good-at-it-0
Put your heart into it: Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” When we are devoid of passion, when we are seeking to help or participate in something simply out of obligation – it shows. One of my favorite movie lines of all times deals with this issue, “and don’t just follow your heart, man, because it can be deceived, you got to LEAD your heart”.
Accept responsibility: Take responsibility for your contribution to the group – whether that group is you co-workers, friends, a bible study or a church service. What responsibility do you have? Is it to be prepared by reading the material ahead of time? Being ready with your part in a presentation for that work meeting? Or your responsibility for your own attitude?
Be all-in: Galatians 6:9 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. The old adage about the night being darkest before the dawn is true. Sometimes, when we see no light on the horizon is the moment we need to fight the hardest, because the dawn is coming…
Go all-out: Matthew 5:41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Don’t settle for going halfway, or even just to expectations. Surprise people. Make them feel loved. Make their day. Do something unexpected.
Listen: James 1:19 – 20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. When we take time to listen, when we truly seek to understand, amazing things can happen.
Get off the Bench!: James 1:22- 25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Whatever we are called to do in this world, we are called to action. To do something.
Stop the worry: Colossians 3:15 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Worry and fear steals joy. How can we be truly present and focused on everything we have now when we’re stuck in the muck?
It’s tempting to think that one day, in heaven, everything will make sense. That since I’m not living in constant fear for my life and in fear of impending persecution it’s somehow okay to lose focus on God and his word. To translate that absence of urgency into apathy. But we do have a choice. To get up, and to show up – for real.