Embrace Today

“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot

During my college years, one of my bosses challenged us with this phrase. Asked us what it meant to “be all there,” at the time my answer was easy, enjoy college. Don’t wish for the next stage of life, just enjoy where I was at that day. But as I’ve graduated and spent a couple years in the workforce, I’ve come to realize just how important this phrase really is.

“Wherever you are, be all there.” 

Every day I get up and go to work. At that time I have a choice to make, I can drag my feet through the day and wish I were working full-time in my desired career field, or I can “be all there” and embrace the people I’m surrounded with and the job I have right now. I can choose to be annoyed by the elementary kids who don’t behave, or I can choose to “be all there” and listen to their stories, laugh at their jokes, give them hugs, and make them feel loved. When I go to my afternoon coaching or my high school youth group, I can choose to put up with the girls knowing it’s an extra paycheck or a good deed to do, or I can be a listening ear, an encouragement, an older sister type mentor, or whatever it is they need. I can “be all there.”

Too often, I hear people (my self included) wishing to time travel to some other stage of life. They wish to go back to the good old days where their family was all together around the kitchen table, or where their college friends were right down the hall. They wish to fly to the future, having their spouse, career, or own family all figured out. Some wish for retirement or a new location. Whatever it is you find yourself wishing for, I challenge you to ask yourself — In the midst of my wishing, am I still “all here.”

You see, when we wish for the future or the past we often neglect the present. We don’t see the neighbors, students, patients, or others right in front of us. We fail to realize who we are right now is needed right here right now. Maybe my future spouse won’t come along for another few years, or maybe not at all, but if I neglect my opportunity to love on the elementary kids I see every day and the volleyball girls and youth group girls I have the chance to lead, then I’m wasting my time. If every Sunday I’m not “all there” with those girls, then I’m depriving them of the opportunity to have a leader who is fully invested in their lives.

Let me take this one step further, when “being all there” that means ALL: mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc. This doesn’t mean being with someone and being on your phone wishing you were with someone else. This doesn’t mean being at church but thinking about the pile of work sitting on your desk at home. This doesn’t mean showing up at your kids soccer game but wishing you were at home with a good book. No, this means be engaged, be involved, be THERE. 

The other day, I had my volleyball team over for an end of the season cookout. Yes the 7th graders are crazy, but I love those girls. As they were all hanging out in the living room, my mom pointed out something wonderful — all nine girls were laughing, talking, and enjoying each others company WITHOUT any phones. Not one. It was such a refreshing sight to see these girls being able to have real conversations and to know they were “all there.”

These days, I think America could use to be a little more “there.” Put the phone down. Listen to the conversation. Better yet, turn the phone off for a while. Understand the emails will get answered in time, the social media world will survive without an extra like or favorite, but kids can’t go with out a present parent or teacher or coach. Go out with a group of friends and be there, be an invested friend not a distracted one. Go to a kids sporting event and be there, not just physically, but mentally, without the work phone.

When we start being where we are, not the future, not the past, not in the technological world, but right here right now with those who are with us in this moment, imagine the impact we could have. Imagine the problems that would dissipate when we started being fully present in the lives we lead. So…

“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot

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