Sit Down on the Ground with Your Friends: The Ministry of Presence

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”- Job 2:13

I’ve always loved this scripture.

I remember when my Dad passed away just over 10 years ago now. I was walking in a bit of a cloud for a while. Grief is strange like that. It can make you feel everything and feel numb at the same time.

It’s heavy.

Both of my best friends were out of the state when it happened, but God in his sovereign will, and them in their love for me, had their family members or friends come by and check-in.

One brought pasta salad, a huge bowl of perfectly cut fruit, and chocolate cream pie.

Another brought flowers and a card.

One brought bottled water.

Though I was grateful. It wasn’t the things they brought that mattered. That only gave a reason for the visit, and to be honest I didn’t even know them all that well.

But, it didn’t really matter that we weren’t close. Each time they came, they sat for a bit and held the grief with me for just a moment. Lightening the load.

Then people who I hadn’t seen in ages, showed up for the viewing and the funeral and they collectively shared the grief and lifted the burden for a brief time. Enough for me to catch a breath before continuing on.

I’ve seen quite a few people on my timeline dealing with the death of family members and grief in other forms and it was really weighing on me.

Then I read this passage this morning and was reminded of this simple wisdom.

The power of “The ministry of presence” cannot be understated.

Everyone is at a different stage of life (I have a 2-year-old who has my phone disabled 75% of the day so I know), and “presence” may look a little different.

But if it is in your power, “sit down on the ground” with the people around you who may need a little break from carrying the burden of grief. A short “drive-by” hello, text or phone call can do amazing things.

Wrap Up! My First Year of Seminary

Last week, I wrapped up my first year of seminary. It was both a beautiful and challenging year. 

I worked full time during the week…then wrote Hebrew Bible Exegesis papers until 2 am.

Alvan and I took Aria to visit parks and birthday parties on the weekends…and I read essays on Paul and Womanist Theology on Saturday nights.

We navigated Covid closures and daycare isolations… and I processed the fact that there are multiple theories of atonement.

We cared for a baby with RSV, and then a stomach virus… while I wrote a paper on Gustavo Gutierrez and Liberation Theology.

We hosted Christmas, Easter, and a Birthday party at our house….Then I studied for Greek verb conjugation quizzes.

I cooked countless meals, (that my toddler threw on the floor)…then reviewed Hebrew vocabulary flashcards.

On our way to daycare dropoff, Aria and I listened to songs from Encanto… and on the way home, she heard my Christian History textbook on audible, and learned the history of the Nicene creed and the stories of the early church martyrs.

I missed spending time with some old friends… But gained time with new friends who have easily become “my people.” 

I lost some orthodoxy that I’d held on so tight to…but gained a deeper sense of the vastness of God and His kingdom.

I’ve learned that we can believe scripture is true, but need to regularly be reminded that it is not simple.

My faith was shaken, but “the things that cannot be shaken, remain.”

At some point during the year, I began to think that all of this was crazy and that I should probably stop and do something more reasonable….

And the next day a received notice that the faculty awarded me with a fellowship that would pay for the remainder of my MDiv. 

It was a beautifully challenging year, but God is still good, and I am grateful. 

Looking forward to next year!