Receiving Others as Gifts: Companionship Over the Long Haul


This is the second post in my series on “Receiving Others as Gifts.” Last week I dealt with the give and take of receiving service from one another–and in particular the service of accepting service. This week I’m turning to a more subtle way in which we are gifts to one another and that is through the simple act of companionship. To read all of my posts related to this subject, please click to browse the entries under the tag, Others as Gifts.

Companionship is a hard thing to quantify and all too easy to underestimate. With service we may tend toward grandiosity and may need to learn to accept a little help from others (for more on this, see the previous post, Receiving Others as Gifts: Mutuality in Giving & Receiving). But companionship is so subtle that we don’t always recognize the value of it.

As with service, companionship goes both ways. Just as the previous post dealt with the mutuality of service, that same mutuality applies in the subject of companionship. We both give and receive the companionship of one another.

I think the best way I can talk about companionship is to relate it to my word for 2014, which is “present.” I’ve shared before about some of the challenges I’ve had with depression and anxiety as well as my tendency toward introversion–all of which make it take effort to to show up and be present with other people.

What has been remarkable to me are the times when I get props for doing just that and I find that just by showing up I can be a blessing to others. I don’t always understand how that can be, but somehow people are glad that I’m there!

When I think about it though, I know that when I go to a committee meeting and a member is missing, it’s just not the same. And when I teach a class and a student is absent, the dynamic is different.

We matter to each other–just by showing up and being ourselves! Apart from any particular thing that we do, we are immeasurably valuable.

I’m fond of the observation I once heard that we are human beings, not human doings. We can be a blessing to one another just by being together along life’s way.

Companionship over the long haul is so important. Life has so many ups and downs and it is so great to have people with us through it all in good times and bad times (cue Dion Warwick & Friends).

Having people with us makes the ups that much more joyous and the downs that much more bearable. Our companions along life’s way often help to bring out our brightest and best. In some cases they may even bolster us and keep us from sinking as low as we might otherwise.

Again, companionship isn’t something we can quantify and it’s not about what we do. It is about being ourselves and being with one another.

It is easy to overlook the value of those who are there for us and unfortunately sometimes we don’t realize it until they’re not there. So, this is my call to take stock of the gift that we are to each other just by showing up in each others’ lives.


Read all the posts in the Receiving Others as Gifts series:

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by catherine on March 22, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I think Jesus really valued presence. He wanted his friends to stay up with him while he prayed in his final hours. He welcomed children who didn’t have anything of earthly value to offer to him. And let us not forget sweet Mary sitting at his feet, just hanging out! Just a few examples.

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