PRESENCE

Modern times demand a certain level of skill at multi-tasking. The introduction of smart phones and immediate access to information that constantly comes at us has all but demanded it! It’s hard to imagine that we used to survive without texting, googling, and gaming! (I mean, what did we do with all those “dead minutes” in between actual activities and conversations?) All this added to the regular pressures of our jobs and family, whilst trying to throw in a little recreational time, means our minds are rarely singularly focused.

Think about the number of times you check your phone just to see if someone has sent you a message. The number of times you look something up just because you are curious to know some facts about an event or person. The number of times you check emails, news headlines….. AAAAAGH!

This is a subject that may seem overstated at this point, but I feel it’s so important. It takes effort to be single-minded and to focus on one person or task at a time. I have discovered in my own life that this effort is worth it. Studies show that millenials are actually more stressed than the generations before them, and most of that extra stress is due to the constant barrage of information that they allow into their brains at one time.

If you are Gen X or older, you will remember that we had just a few TV channels. And on top of that, if you didn’t catch your show at the time it aired, you just missed the show! Phones were attached to the wall, and if you wanted privacy you had to get a REALLY LONG cord so you could string it down the hall from the kitchen and into the bathroom or your room. We actually had to FACE people to talk to them for the most part. When our parents did something with us they were singularly focused ON US. Even if they weren’t there as much as we would have liked, when they were there they weren’t busy posting pics of us and half-listening to whatever we had to say. Everything else had to wait because they were with us, and everyone survived!

So here’s what I observe these days, and I’m sorry again if you feel you’ve heard it too much. We all have relationships with other humans, and those humans deserve our FULL attention when they are in our presence.

I think we think we are present sometimes when we actually aren’t. Technically the definition of present is to “be in a particular place.” So, I think that we have tricked ourselves into thinking that because our body is physically at a child’s soccer game, or at the dinner table, or on the couch while the family watches a movie, that that is actually BEING PRESENT.

Multi-tasking is an amazing ability that we have, but it should be left for work and other activities. It shouldn’t take the place of single-mindedness and focus on a person that is sitting with or beside us. Especially our children.

A child knows when you’re pretending to give your attention to him when he’s explaining his artwork, or talking about the scene in the movie that just happened while you were checking Instagram.  A child knows when you have actually put your full attention on him and have fully engaged in his story or activity. We only absorb part of the information he is giving us if we are simultaneously absorbing information from someone online. We miss A LOT. It’s the details we do remember and notice that make the biggest impact.

How would we feel if God constantly put his finger up and told us to wait just a moment more while he reads a message from someone else or has to go “like” a post he missed yesterday? What if he had to finish posting his selfie with so-and-so before he could get to what we had share.

When we speak to Him, his attention is not divided. We are front and center, and he is single-minded.

Single-minded is an adjective meaning: committed, unwavering, resolute, devoted, dedicated, persistent. It’s antonym is: half-hearted. I think when we multi-task we are basically half-heartedly doing each thing. For laundry, making coffee, checking emails… sure…. BUT….

Let’s try a little harder to put our devices down and be more single-minded when we are in the presence of a loved one. Every effort surely makes a lasting impact, and it is freeing to loose the chains!

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