Gracing with Your Presence

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

When a person comes seeking help for some sort of relational or emotional issue, our mind quickly shifts into problem identification mode. We analyze their life searching for patterns or themes, attempting to find snug categories, and then implementing the appropriate truth to negate the problem. Truth is good!


Psalm 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. 


However, we tend to oversimplify our implementation of truth. How often, do we go into automated mode in quickly scanning the set of concerns or symptoms, diagnosing their source idol or unresolved wound, and swiftly transition into sharing a conceptual truth that clarifies or corrects their issue. We view people as equations to be solved. Eugene Peterson says it well, “People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored.”


If people are not problems to be solved then simply giving them a fact or truth does not necessarily rectify the situation. While it’s of vital importance to recognize various points of tension, people are more than a set of variables in a math equation. It’s as if we believe reciting truth at a person will instantaneously heal suffering or induce change.


So what are we missing? Again, truth is of crucial importance, but it’s how we communicate truth. Truth is conveyed within the context of relational presence. This act of being connected in the moment provides the conducive atmosphere for issues and truth to be discussed. It’s a dialogue. And it requires a level of trust in the goodness of the truth speaker.


Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.


This is ultimately portrayed in Jesus…the Incarnate Word…who literally embodied truth. He also has graciously given us the Scriptures, but the Bible is not an outline of facts to remember, but a story that skillfully embeds the truth into the flow of the narrative. Think about that. God has all the right answers, He could have easily given us the Cliff Notes version of the plan for our life, and yet the way He implements truth in our brokenness is through relational presence. Even Jesus’ method of communication utilizes this relational presence by sharing what is true through stories and parables. There is a weightiness that comes when someone is actually present. There’s a warmth and authenticity, when someone is paying attention, and not plotting their next move. We intuitively recognize this in friends. We are attracted to those who are ‘all there’ as we interact with them.


We must strive to be more gentle, patient, and careful with our words. Allow authentic and vulnerable dialogue to develop out of genuine presence. This is a difficult shift from our culture’s predominant logical approach. But it is a shift that creates time and space for the Spirit to work, both in leading the direction of our words and helping us to absorb words at the heart level. Language is powerful. With words, God spoke creation to existence. With words, relationships become marriages and produce children. It is through God’s very presence by the Spirit that we are able to embody faithfulness and steadfast love in the way we care for people.