Your Unique Presence in your Family and Community
People live in community. You might not be a Jesuit or Augustinian, but you belong to some kind of community or several communities. You belong to the family which is one kind of community. If you’re reading this, you likely belong to a parish. You have a unique role and presence in your community. What role do you have in your family, your community or your church? The following article brings an Augustinian perspective to these questions.
You are a unique presence in your community. God calls you to be present in a distinctive way in your family, community, church. God arranges that different people have different ways of being present. That is why discernment on what that presence looks like is so important. What is the effect of your presence in these communities? What are your goals? What are your responsibilities?
Start with your state in life. What is your vocation? Are you married? Are you single? Are you widowed? If single, are you dating or engaged or considering an engagement? Once you have an understanding of your true vocation, you have a point of orientation. That will help you make decisions about your presence in the family, community, church. What tasks should you do and what tasks do you want to let go of? When do you speak and when do you remain silent? When do you go out and when to stay home? Which people do you allow to be around you and which people do you avoid?
When you get exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, or run down, your body is saying something to you. You might be doing things that are out of God’s plan. God wants you to live for others and to live well. Doing so might include suffering, fatigue, and even moments of great physical or emotional pain. Yet, God does not require of you what is beyond your ability. God asks nothing of you that will take you away from God, or what makes you depressed or sad.
Your family and community also need your creative absence. Your way of being present to your family, community, or church requires times of absence. These would be times of prayer, writing, or solitude. These are also times when you are with your family, community, or church. They allow you to be God’s presence to your people and speak words that come from God when you were with them. It might be part of your location you offer your people of vision that will nurture them. For your family or community to thrive, this vision needs to be internalized. It is critical that you give yourself the time and space to let that vision become an integral part of you. Only when fully vetted and developed can you present a vision that will feed your family or community.
You might need certain things that a community cannot provide. You may have to go away from family from time to time. This does not mean that you are selfish, abnormal, or denying your need for community life. This is another way of being present to your people in this personal, nurturing, and special time. Do not be afraid to ask for this. Doing so allows you to be faithful to your vocation and to feel safe. It is a service to those who want to be a source of hope and was giving presence.
Your community might need you as a presence that offers courage. Perhaps your family needs spiritual food for the journey. Possibly you create a safe ground in which others can grow and develop – a presence that belongs to the matrix of the community.