29 July 2019

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The Art of Showing Up

“True friendship isn’t about being there when it is convenient. It’s about being there when it’s not (Author Unknown).”

The day of my son’s 6th birthday two of his friends called and cancelled. And one of his best friends just never showed up. When I called they said they had other plans and would not be able to make it. So there we were . . . after hours of planning and cooking and decorating I was pretty frustrated. But the most heartbreaking part was looking at his little face, sitting there waiting for his friends to show up. When I told him they wouldn’t make it he was crushed. Luckily the three neighbour girls all showed up and we were able to celebrate with his sisters and the neighbours. He was surrounded by girls, but someone had decided to show up…to be there for him. And that was enough.

Our society has lost the art of showing up. I read a post recently from a fellow mom blogger who shared her dread about her son’s upcoming birthday. She said every year I worry that no one will show up and he will be disappointed. We’ve been lucky I guess, because it has only happened at one of my kid’s birthday parties, but I understand how she felt. Growing up I often suffered when friends did not show up for my birthday. Being a July baby, people were often on vacation or unable to attend. Let’s blame it on a summer birthday, but I remember being pretty bummed when my closest friends could not be there to celebrate with me. It was hard not to feel hurt. It appears as if this phenomenon is only getting worse. Our schedules are so full, we have so much going on, and honestly maybe we are just becoming a bit less social… it is easier to shop online, send a message or an email, stay home and watch Netflix… because we are tired and maybe a little awkward. I admit that I will often send a message over calling, because I don’t have the time to stop and talk about whatever it is I need to say or ask. For whatever reason, people just don’t show up like they used to. Years ago weddings, funerals, anniversaries and birthdays were the social events of the town. Everyone showed up. It was a chance to be together, to talk, to celebrate, and to be a part of the big day. Something has changed in society, in us, and we’re just not very good at showing up.

Whether it’s a concert, a wedding, a play, a recital, a birthday, a funeral, a speech, a game, people are honored when we show up. Not that I am perfect at this. I think that it IS hard to balance everything and to be present at every event. . .But maybe at least for the big ones. The events that you know mean a lot to the people in your life. I remember when a friend of my husband’s and mine, who at the time of our wedding we did not know very well yet, drove an hour out of his way on a Saturday to be at our wedding. It honored us so much. I was truly blessed by his presence. Sometimes we just need to share our joy or our sorrow with the people who are closest to us. A smile as you are nervously waiting for your bride, a hug as you are saying goodbye to a loved one, a joke when you are dreading turning 50… we just need someone to share or load.

“Let love be genuine… Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor… Share with those who are in need and seek to show hospitality… Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12, The Holy Bible).”

Recently I celebrated my 40th. A huge occasion for me, and something I had honestly been dreading- the big 4-0. Yet, the thought of being with family and friends who love me, made it feel special and I was looking forward to it. As the day approached I started receiving phone calls… someone had car problems, a doctor appointment, a vacation planned during those dates, a conference to attend, a meeting they just couldn’t miss… and the truth is that I was pretty disappointed. Maybe even a little hurt. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, and I think that they care about me. But I think maybe sometimes we need to try a little harder to show it … to show that we care, that we love the people in our lives. And maybe a great way to do that is simply to show up to the important events in their lives.

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