The Power of Presence

by Pat Kuykendoll

We are physically present for many events both small and significant for the motherless daughter in our lives. We spend much time shuffling to doctor appointments or attending school functions, which is a necessary part of our role. But we have another, far deeper need, one we all yearn for and never outgrow. We find it within the power of emotional presence. I learned this so well one day.

Before that day, the motherless daughter in my life would not be able to return to a ministry group that had become the focal point of her life in so many ways. She had bonded with her fellow students who came from diverse backgrounds. She had spent countless hours sharing experiences with this group that stretched her beyond her comfort zone. These were her people. Not returning meant loss. Loss meant grief. Grief meant great sadness. While I knew this in my head, there came a day when I understood it in my heart and learned the power of emotional presence.

I searched for her one day when she was at my house. Being that my home is rather small it shouldn’t be that difficult to find her. I opened the closet door where she stored some of her possessions and there she was…seated on the floor in tears. “What’s wrong,” I asked. “I’m not going back,” she said. All factual. She would indeed not be going back. There were many possible responses I could have offered. Again, all factual. Among them might have been, “It will get better,” “You can stay in contact with your friends,” “We can look for something else you can do,” or “Look at all the other things that are good in your life.” But she needed presence. She needed me to feel her experience, and I needed to know how to be present.

The next few actions would be pivotal. I stooped down to where she sat and uttered a few little words. I did not propose solutions. We cried together. Perhaps that day was more for me than for her. I felt something within myself. Presence. Powerful presence. It did not require words.

Jesus offered many examples of emotional presence. “Jesus wept” from John 11:35 is one of the most prominent ones. There are various explanations of this verse which go beyond the scope of this blog, but an interesting point is that Jesus wept even though He knew Lazarus would die and live again. He knew the facts. He could have offered the facts. Instead He appealed to the connection point…the loss and the accompanying sadness. He offered His healing presence through His communal weeping with those who mourned. He was powerfully present.

Powerful presence is a gift we can give to the motherless daughter in our life. We can learn to read the emotion underneath the facts of the situation. It becomes our opportunity to provide the motherless daughter in our life the power of emotional presence and heal her wounds. And somehow in doing so, we also become a beneficiary of the gift of emotional presence. I learned that while sitting on the floor of the closet with the motherless daughter in my life.


Pat is spearheading the development of a Caretakers Support Group. If you are interested, please click on this link.

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