Thursday, October 25, 2007
I've been thinking lately about the concept of "practicing presence" or living in the moment. It means being interruptible--setting my agenda aside for someone else, putting others' needs ahead of my own, truly listening when someone speaks instead of thinking about what I might say next. Responding with compassion and not judgment.
Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, and she told me about some struggles her fifteen-year-old daughter is having with mean friends. Her words reminded me of a statistic I once read that singled out teen girls as the cruelest, most conniving, most unforgiving people on the planet.
I know that's not true of all teen girls, but the nice ones have to live in the same world with the mean ones. And sometimes they're the favorite targets.
High school provides lots of opportunities for mean teens to practice their art. Competition flourishes in academics, social relationships, sports, fashion, clubs and activities. Who has the best figure? the best clothes? the best-looking boyfriend? It's a never-ending comparison game with no winner.
In the middle of all that craziness, it's hard to silence critical voices and be still enough to hear God. And yet He's there all the time, saying He loves you and created you the way you are for His glory.
After I left my friend's house I wondered what a different place high school would be if everyone practiced presence. If they considered others as more important than themselves. If they really listened, not to judge, but to offer a compassionate response. If they stopped comparing themselves to others and started letting God shape them into the image of Christ.
I realize not all teens are mature or spiritual enough to make those kinds of choices. But I know some are. It's not easy to walk against the current. And it makes all kinds of ripples. The nice thing about ripples is they spread out. They can reach far corners we don't even see. And they cause change.
Are you brave enough to practice presence and be a ripple maker? If that's what you want to do, let us know. We'll pray for you and cheer you on.