As we move through the holiday season and into the new year, my thoughts have run wild as of late – specifically as they pertain to love and legacy. Working with college students and having a 15 and 11-year-old, I do regularly think about the future and what kind of life and legacy these young people will be left with. As we close out the year and enter into a new one, my thoughts are on the future. But to think about the future, you have to be working on the present (not to be confused with the present in the title and subject below – but what a nice tie-in!).
In a week that saw me get another vehicle and give my daughter my hand-me-down, I struggle to get past the phrase that’s come to me: Presents or Presence? The car certainly seems to be more of a present for her (although she has shown little interest in driving to this point…). But the more valuable gift would be for me to have a presence with her. Why? To be an example. To be a role model. To help shape her, and build her foundation for life. To leave an impression and a piece of me with her that she will appreciate over time. Sure, the car will get her places, but the time spent with her now will get her to even greater places.
So, presents vs. presence? This is likely an age-old issue parents have had to deal with. From what I see, many don’t know how to draw a line between the two, often confusing them. In a world of distractions, it’s easy to overcompensate presents for presence – especially around the holiday season. Just check your Facebook feed…
To borrow a line from Jesus, I tell you the truth, the young people who grow up lacking in presence will be no better off to be showered with too many presents. What does this teach our young people? How does it help them cope with life? How will it benefit them? Short-term happiness is not anything close to long-term joy. What this means is: both love and legacy are not passed on by things. It’s the investments we pour into others that are non-materialistic that are more meaningful and beneficial.
Keep in mind, I’m no Scrooge and I enjoy a bountiful Christmas. It’s just sometimes the message gets lost in translation – and all the wrapping paper. My oldest daughter will come to appreciate the car when she gets her license and finds her independence, but for now, I’m happy she prefers time with her dad. Maybe some of the things I do and say will be my legacy. That’s why I will focus on the best gifts I can give her – and that begins with my presence.
One of the Psalms of David accurately describes what I have tried to put into words:
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
– Psalm 16:11
I love you all, and pray for everyone to be blessed this next year!
In writing this, it brought thoughts of a blog from November about having a bucket list that’s meaningful versus experiential. Click here