being there

Okay, let’s toss aside the false humility and self-deprecation for a second and shoot straight. God has gifted me in several areas. I know this. And the ones that immediately come to mind are things that come easily to me–writing, speaking, offering words of encouragement to people…

HOWEVER. There is one thing (well, one I’m going to focus on) that I am NOT good at. And actually, to say that I’m not good at it is a complete cop-out. Because the truth is: I choose not to be good at it. Because it’s hard for me. And I’m selfish.

What is it, you ask? Tell us! Tell us!

Well, if you had an ounce of sense (did I mention I have the gift of encouragement?), the title would’ve given it away. What am I not good at?

Being there.

As in, just sitting with someone and being there. Having no agenda, being in no hurry, not getting up to check something on my computer. Just being there.

I want to get better at this. Not just so I can feel better about myself. Not so I can check another good deed off my list. But because being there requires selflessness, and I want my life to be characterized much, much more by that than it is at the moment.

Because being there requires trust. Trust that God will help me take care of all those terribly pressing, incredibly urgent tasks that won’t get tended to if I’m just sitting there being there.

Today my friend Val came over for a few hours. Val is the dear girl you’ve been praying for, the one who has eight little babies waiting for her in heaven. Val didn’t need me to say one more time, “I’m praying for you.” She didn’t need an e-mail or a facebook message or an encouraging tweet. She needed someone to be there.

And I’m thankful God chose me to be the one to be there for her today. Because even though I haven’t had a chance to ask Val if the day was a blessing to her, I know it was a blessing to me.

And God also gave me an opportunity to be there for my friend Kim. She brought lunch and hung out with Val and me for a bit, then left Kara, her 4-year-old, with us while she went to Children’s Hospital to be there for Billy and Amy while 3-week-old Gregory had an MRI done. Kim has been through this many much times with Miss Kara, so she could offer words of encouragement to a very anxious Mommy and Daddy who have already lost one baby and couldn’t bear to think of losing another.

Here’s gorgeous Gregory (oh, I could just eat him!), and PRAISE THE LORD! The bump on his back was just a calcified bruise that will take care of itself. Not cancer, not a tumor, not anything serious AT ALL. PRAISE YOU, JESUS!

All that to say–I want to be there for people. People matter to me because they matter to Jesus. And I want them to know it, to believe it (especially if their love language is quality time). Yes, I realize that I’m a wife and a mom and an author and a speaker with lots of friends and tons of connections, so there are honestly times when I can’t be there for people. But if it’s selfishness holding me back? Or a lack of trust? Then I want to be done with those excuses.

I want to be there.

16 thoughts on “being there

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano | Christian author and speaker » Blog Archive » the one talent we all have

  2. Kay

    Marla, I too struggle with just being there. Actually, once I’m there I’m pretty good at it, but I have a real problem just getting there…there at the hospital….there on the phone….there beside the woman sitting by herself….there at someone’s home who is grieving (scary!) or sick (what would I do?) or new in town (does she really want me there?). I have so many doubts about whether anyone would really want me there or that I’d not know what to do once I got there, that I don’t even go there! But I’m working on that too. ..

  3. amber

    Being there. Not my good-at thing either.

    I need to be busy. Either jabbering with. Or eating with. Or shopping with. Or. Or. Or.

    But not just being there. Wonder why that is so hard for some of us?

    I’m going to try to do better, too. Your afternoon sounds simply divine.

  4. Elizabeth

    Just being there, as in fully engaging, is really hard for me too, especially lately. I honestly feel like I’m on another planet most of the time while my family and friends live life around me. I’m pretty much absent from it all emotionally, even though I’m right there (usually curled up on the couch). My biggest love language is quality time, and it kills me that I can’t give much of it right now.

    I think a few hours with a friends sounds like the perfect way to spend a day.

  5. Heather B

    Hi Marla!
    I have been following your blog for a couple of months now and wanted to finally say “hello!” I can really identify with this post as this is one of my biggest struggles. As a mom of 2 boys (7 & 9) I am constantly reminding myself to stop, look them in the eyes and “be there” with them. Especially when they have initiated a conversation! Thank you for being open and honest about this. I feel very encouraged today! Many Blessings to you!

  6. Tiffani


    You got me where it hurts today. Because just I commented earlier about snippiness with the kiddos? It was totally about this subject matter. I winced at “being there requires selflessness”. So. true. And, I’ve been very selfish with my time especially when the kids want me to do something with/for them for the 873rd time.

    thanks for being so honest.

  7. Marla Taviano

    Thanks for sharing that, Missy. I don’t think “perfect theology” matters when you’ve lost precious little ones. Praise God for blessing you with 3 beautiful kiddos here on earth!

  8. Missy

    It’s interesting how “Being There” comes so naturally to some people and for others it is a learned skill. I like to think that my schedule allows me to have things done so that I’m able to ‘be there’ when needed…procrastinating would mean I didn’t have the flexibility I needed to put something off because it had become so urgent that I couldn’t stop and just be there with someone.

    My heart aches for your friend, Val. I lost three babies and struggled for years before being blessed with my three: one for each loss. I do feel there was redemption in that process. I looked at her blog and she seems to be taking a much-needed reprieve. My advice is for her to be gentle and good to herself right now. Splurge on something you can’t do when you’re pregnant or mothering: my choice was water skiing and LOTS of caffiene. Some days I had to give myself permission to be happy, even though my arms felt so empty.

    I imagined a ‘room’ in heaven where all the grandmothers would rock the unborn babies and bathe them in perfect love, telling them all about their mommy. I used to write letters to my lost little ones and tell them how loved and wanted they were. I also planted a garden with babies’ breath and miniature (baby) roses. I know the theology of this isn’t exactly perfect, but the therapy of it soothed some of the emptiness.

    Have a great day!

  9. Stephanie your sister

    I have been SO convicted about this lately (for months, really). When I leave empty spots in my schedule I feel like I’m being lazy, but when I fill up all my time with plans I don’t have the freedom to be there for people. I hate that. I sort of tie all that in with the simple life stuff in Joanne’s book. I want to be available for people, not have to squeeze people into my oh-so-important daily planner.

  10. Jen Hanson

    There should be a “like” button on your blog. I’d “like” this. Play on words – because I would “like this” in my own life as well. To be that to others and to have that from others. We just don’t pay enough REAL attention to each other.

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