Presence and Absence

I’m ordinarily very sorry when I post the blog late, but I’m not this time.

The bank I work at decided to open late Tuesday due to snow, so I was going to use my time wisely and work on the blog. The only problem was that I had writer’s block. It was bad. It’s the worst case I’ve had since college. I tried three or four different ways to start the post, and trust me, they were all terrible. I’m sorry I almost put you guys through that.

The bank opened late again Wednesday, but not as late, and I sort of slept in. Plus, I had no clue what I could write about that I hadn’t already said in a previous post. (Please note that I’m not sure that I’m not restating something in this blog, but it’s what God wants me to say, and I hope it’s a refreshing take on it.)

I didn’t have time on Thursday, and even if I did, I still didn’t know what to write about. The bank opened at its normal time, and right after work, I drove to Carrboro, accompanied by my sister, to see Aaron Carter. If Alan can move worship band practice to go see Garth Brooks then surely I can postpone the blog to see Aaron Carter, right?

Because let me tell you, about 15 years ago, my world revolved around Aaron Carter. Posters, magazines, every single CD he put out. If he was on TV, I was right there watching him. One day in the third grade, my sister got me out of school early to take me to a concert of his. It was my first concert, and I actually got to meet him. (I was speechless, which hardly ever happens.) Aaron was the only guy on the planet in my eyes. And yeah, many musicians and artists have come into my life since then, some of whom I’ve obsessed over, but Aaron was the first to captivate me and my heart in such a fashion. So regardless of how old I get or how hot of a mess he is, he’ll always have a place in my heart.

So I got home and in bed later than I usually do. I woke up on Friday morning after about six hours of sleep and was brushing my teeth when the theme of this post hit me.

I’m not sorry this is late because not only did I get to see the guy I once considered the love of my life (and am still in love with, I’ve found out), but I also have a much better blog post to share with you all because of it.

I finished a book called The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. It was a good read. It doesn’t have a spot in my top five books or anything, but I’m not mad that it cost me time of my life that I’ll never get back. As you can tell from the fact that I read it, it’s not an actual guide to hunting and fishing. Anyway, at one point in the book, the speaker says that something was less defined by her presence than it was another woman’s absence.

I thought about how sad that was, how awful that feeling is. Then I thought about what Alan talked about on Sunday.

Alan talked about how God works with what we have to offer Him, and he said that the first step to a greater life is accepting Christ as your savior.

I knew when I read that line in the book that I could use it in this post, but I didn’t know that the entire post would go back to that one part or how close of a fit it was to what Alan said Sunday.

On Friday morning, as I was spitting out a mouthful of Colgate and reflecting on the night before, God showed me how it really should be all about presence instead of absence.

First, the focus of our lives and our relationships with God should be the presence of God, not the absence of what we’ve given up for Him. We are new creatures in Christ, which means we have to change from the creatures we were. If we’re going to pick up our crosses, we’ll have to lay some things down. In some sense, it doesn’t matter what you’ve put down. All that really matters is that you’ve now embraced God instead.

I’m not saying your testimony or the details of it are irrelevant because both are extremely important. What I’m saying is you shouldn’t focus on what you’ve given up. You shouldn’t let that define you. And you shouldn’t long after it. Drugs, promiscuity, gambling, a certain lifestyle, whatever it was that held you hostage before – regardless of how much you may think you miss it – does not compare to what God’s done for you and how much He loves you.

The first way is close to the second, which is to value the presence of the person you are now instead of frowning at the absence of who you were. If you legitimately think you’re worse off now in terms of where you are with God, it’s time to reevaluate some things and talk to God.

And there are people who are not so much frowning at the absence of who they were as they are focusing on who they were because they’re so ashamed that person ever existed. If that’s you, I just want to remind you that God’s forgiven you, and He wants you to forgive yourself. That person’s not you anymore, and that is something to rejoice over. Focus on who you are and wrap yourself up in God’s abundant love and grace.

Lastly, focus on the presence of what you have and not the absence of what you don’t have. It sounds a little silly when it’s put like that, but we let what we don’t have get us down or hold us back. The Bible is filled with people who told God they couldn’t do something because they lacked something. Seriously, if you read your Bible for a little while, it won’t take you too long to run into one of those people. And honestly, God didn’t care about what they didn’t have.

God chose you for what you have to offer, not to point out what you don’t have. He’s not interested in what you lack because He knows He’s bigger than any insufficiency you could ever have or possibly think of.

“Carrie, I don’t have much.”

That’s okay. It doesn’t take much with God. He loves you so much and is so excited about what the two of you can do together that He has taken every step you cannot take and will do everything you cannot do.

Don’t let the absences in your life define you. Look at who and what are present in your life. It’s another step to making your life even greater.

By Carrie Prevette

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