Sunday, July 3, 2011

Just show up, Part 2

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15 (NASB)

Since I was a teenager, I have heard people give inspirational speeches and testimonials about giving 110%, going the extra mile, doing more, pushing harder than anyone ever thought imaginable. These talks are always admirable and frequently moving. And yet, the logician in me often has been left with this embarrassing thought: I don’t get it.

How do you divide up a whole and end up with more than you started with (well, ok, unless you're performing a miracle like Jesus with the loaves and fishes)? There really is no more than 100%, is there? And isn’t 100%, well, er… enough? Or, maybe even – if all of us really tried – more than enough?

Recently, though, I have found that there is something much harder (and more important) than all this doing. In fact, I believe so much of the doing is a self-imposed distraction from the difficult work of just showing up.

When a writer or speaker repeats a point, it is generally worth paying special attention. In the short couplet in Romans 12:15, Paul repeats the almost invisible words “with those who.” I say almost invisible, because I often skip that bit to get to the meaty stuff: Rejoice! Weep! That’s where the action is, right?

No. I humbly admit that I have missed the point, until recently. And by missing the point, I have missed so much action by not showing up to be “with those who” do/feel/are whatever “those who” are. Oh, I have been physically present, for sure, but a million miles away on next week’s to do list. I have achieved a lot by most measures, and I can multi-task with the best of them. But I am awakening to a painful reality: I could have been more useful by doing less.

I am allowing myself this season to rethink what life might look and feel like if I just show up. Maybe when I play with my son, I don’t stop mid-giggle to check on the laundry. In conversation with my husband, perhaps I let him finish his sentence instead of hurrying him on by finishing it for him. As a friend weeps on my shoulder, just weep. When I write, allow the words to tumble onto the page before editing myself.

This “just showing up” business could change everything.

Imagine with me for a moment… a meeting at work in which everyone is fully present, not checking email or texting, listening to each other, not worried about the next meeting or deadline. In over twenty years of meetings, I can count on one hand those in which everyone “showed up” in that way. And they were amazingly productive and creative meetings. Game changers, if you will.

You can keep your 110%. Just show up to that one meeting – really BE there – and see what happens.


  1. This is rich in both wisdom and beautiful writing. I welcome hearing this today and send you thanks for it!

  2. Excellent. Something I needed to hear

  3. Lancia and Malcolm, thank you both for your kind and encouraging comments. I'm so glad my words connected with you. ~ Kelly