After so many years of filming weddings, I have heard a lot of wedding vows. A lot of really good, heartfelt emotions, bottled up into words, and professed in front of friends and family. They are all powerful; I love them all. Everyone once in a while, I’ll hear ones that just stick with me. It’s been a very full week, and we’ve spent some time with some married couples, who are all going through some hard things. It’s left me with a lot of time to reflect on a particular set of vows from a few years ago.
“I promise to be present. To show up.”
These words came from a sweet young bride, but they have continued to resonate with me, even more with many years of marriage. Showing up for people matters.
Most of the time showing up is easy. It’s easy to show up and be present on your wedding day. It’s easy to show up for the holidays, the vacations. To be present with your spouse on date nights and morning runs. I don’t make light of those things, because they DO matter, and are so very important. But this week I’ve been thinking about the times when it isn’t as easy to show up.
The waiting times.
When I was in college I won an award. In addition to the award, I was presented with a book. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Despite it being a children’s book, I was way to young to appreciate the wisdom of it at the time. In fact, I believe my statement on it was “Why would someone give me what has to be the most depressing kids book ever?” as I tossed it in a box. It wasn’t until almost a decade later that I truly began to appreciate the wisdom behind those rhyming words. Right in the middle of those rhymes, as we meander through happiness and success, loneliness and confusion, we stumble into what Seuss describes as “the most useless place.” The waiting place.
I have to agree; it is the worst, most useless place to be. There is absolutely nothing to do but wait. To wait to see if you got the job. To wait and see if the pregnancy test is positive. Or not. Waiting on the results of tests. Waiting on a spouse to get their head back in the game. Waiting for healing. Waiting in waiting rooms, and in living rooms, and on the other ends of telephones.
Even if you try to busy yourself through the waiting times by, you’re still waiting. You can read, or run, or work but nothing will change the fact that you’re still waiting, and the waiting has a tendency to take over your brain.
Showing up, being present….it will not change the waiting. It will not change the time spent in the waiting place, and it will not change the outcome.
The very act of showing up, of being present when there’s absolutely nothing else to do other than sit there and BE, it’s hard. You can’t fix it, you can’t change it, you can’t provide explanations or answers. Showing up during those times though; it’s what matters. It’s what gets us through. The simple presence of another human being is enough to carry us through the waiting. It’s one of the unprofessed, but most powerful acts of love we can express for one another.