• Joelle Steffen

The Power of Presence

So, I thought I wanted to write about our summer vacation to Mexico when I scheduled myself for the August God Moment. I thought, I’ll have lots of time to read, and executive director Jim had given me a book that I had been meaning to read for far too long. I thought, I’ll write about what I gleaned from the book. I thought, maybe I’ll have a joyful experience with our family in Mexico that I can weave in. I had lots of ideas, but I wasn’t prepared for what God had in store. I haven’t told many people, but while we were in Mexico, my sister-in-law was viciously attacked. She’s a kind-hearted woman who had, just the day before, walked in a parade with the local church to celebrate a feast day. She had volunteered with other family members to provide bread for the church throughout the year. Since I've known her, she’s been warm and welcoming to me, which has meant a lot especially when I first married her brother. So, to say the attack was unexpected doesn’t quite capture the shock. Her wounds are significant, and while some will heal, some are permanently disfiguring. It’s heartbreaking to write this even, so why do I share? Because of my husband. I have lots of reasons to be proud of him, but how he behaves in a crisis, when things are hard and sad and even scary – it’s when he shines most brightly. The day of the attack, he met her at the hospital, drove with to the police and then to they eye doctor. He ended up spending the night with his sister and her family to make sure there were no problems through the night. The next day, he went with them again to the police. He brought breakfast; he picked up the check for lunch; he was generous with his time, with his emotions, with his money, and every step of the way, was a shoulder to cry on and a force of determination to see her well and see justice for this offense. On the day of our flight, it was hard for him to leave his sister. Although she’s a grown woman with grandchildren, this sister is the baby of the family, and seeing her in need brought the family together in a way I haven’t seen since my husband’s father was alive. Since we’ve been home, my husband has sent money for another hospital stay and has called every day to check in. I admire that steady presence he provides. What a comfort it must be to her to know her brother will support her through this harrowing experience. I wish everyone had someone as brave as my husband in their life. Because that’s what this is – bravery. He’s not afraid to be uncomfortable, emotional, or called upon to provide. He doesn’t show up one day and then disappear. He’s willing to go deep, feel grief, entangle himself in the messy business of loving another person, and I could not love him more for it. We’ve had our own hard times, and this consistent, steady presence has been a buoy for me. Even if it’s just seeing me struggle to find something and looking for it with me.


“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2:1-7



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