I have a few recurring nightmares.
- Seeing a tornado coming
- Navigating home from my grandparents’ house in Mississippi on various ill-equipped vehicles at night (tricycle, running, etc.)
- Needing to take a shower but they’re all full
And being unprepared for a test at school. (They say 1 in 4 people have exam dreams. You? See 8 most common nightmares.)
I’ve been out of school for 30+ years, but I still dream that it’s test day, and I never even went to class or cracked a book all semester. Which is NOT how I ever was in real life.
I like being prepared (actually, I prefer overprepared). I want to be ready for whatever is to come.
But life isn’t that way.
It often calls on us to do things outside of the time we have available or the skills we have learned or the comfort zone we’ve created.
What do we do when we’re not ready, but it’s time to go?
I’ve been sharing my Four Agreements with God this month. Today is the last one, and it’s possibly my favorite and most useful:
# 4. Just show up.
3 Ways to Just Show Up
1. Show up imperfect.
I don’t like being called on to do something I’m bad at. (I quit bowling years ago because it was no fun getting gutter balls.) Not having the skills or knowledge or preparation can make us not want to show up at all. Perfectionism can shut us down before we get to yes.
But what better way to learn something new than to show up with your inadequacy?
Want to learn carpentry skills? Show up with CASA to build a wheelchair ramp; other volunteers will be glad to show you the ropes. Want to be a better mom? Spend time with a mom you admire and see how she does it. Want to change job positions? Visit your HR office and listen to what they say.
- You don’t have to know the full plan.
- You don’t have to have every answer.
- You don’t have to be the most skilled.
You just have to be available.
You can love people without being perfect. Actually, you might love them even better when you lead with humility.
When we show up with our weaknesses, so does God’s strength.
Don’t underestimate the power of your presence.
2. Show up scared.
Ugh. I’m scared of a lot of things: looking stupid, getting hurt, even being bored. But being afraid isn’t a good reason to not show up.
I’m learning this more and more: If I’ll just get my body in place, my spirit will follow.
I’ve bargained with God on many occasions: If I agree to show up, you have to show up, too. And God always does.
God shows up before we get there, and God stays long after we’re gone.
But God wants to work through our bodies and personalities too. Relying less on ourselves, we rely more on God.
When we show up scared, we leave with more faith.
3. Show up empty.
Do you ever talk yourself out of showing up because you’re not “important” enough?
- They don’t need me anyway.
- Nobody will know if I’m there or not.
- I won’t make a difference.
- God can do it without me.
While, yes, God can accomplish what God wants to with or without us, God prefers to partner with us.
Not just for God’s sake. But for our sake, too.
When we show up empty, we’re more like Christ than we realize. He emptied himself out to put on human flesh (Philippians 2:6-8).
He didn’t lay aside his worth—he was still God—but he showed up for us here in a limited human body.
And through that emptiness, he served us with his fullness.
When we feel too unimportant to be of use, let’s remind ourselves that we, too, are chosen and holy, beloved by God, to be God’s love to other people. When we have nothing to prove, we are more flexible to help however we’re needed.
As Richard Rohr says, “It seems that we Christians have been worshipping Jesus’ journey instead of doing his journey.”
When we show up to serve others, we are following Christ.
Pass the Test
When I dream about being late for school or forgetting the combination to my locker, I usually wake up before I actually get to the classroom to take the test.
That’s okay for a dream, but I don’t want an incomplete in real life.
- Even though I may make a mess when I get there, I want to show up and grow.
- Even though I may have missed many classes, I want to take the test anyway.
- And even though I may be the least important person in the room, I want to be there with the most important—God.
That’s more than enough reason to show up.
* * *
Do you have a recurring nightmare? When have you hesitated to show up, but were glad you did? Please share in the comments.
See all 4 agreements (click on individual infographics)
- When You Show Up, You Bring Heat
Don’t doubt the potential of your presence. Showing up matters.
- What? No Plan?
We don’t have to know the plan, just the presence. With a dash of our faith, God will do the rest.
- 3 Reasons to Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism makes us say no when the Spirit wants us to say yes.
- Dear Risk, I Know We’re Not Friends
But like it or not, we’re in this together. Just for today, we’ve got things to do. Let’s get going.
- When You’re Anxious about Praying – Book Review of “Flee, Be Silent, Pray”
- 4 Books I Recommend – June 2017