Are you Present?
Some weeks ago I found a picture I wanted to share with my husband. It had obviously been edited and I knew he would find it funny. I clicked it to forward to Shan but then decided not to. Far better to wait till he got home so I could show it to him in person. Sending it via email is instantaneous and easy to do. But I wouldn’t be present when he enjoyed it. And half the fun would be gone.
The world today is more connected than it has ever been. Phones seem to be an extension of our personalities. We use skype, viber, whatsApp and text messages. We have iPads, personal computers, desktop computers, emails. Our phones and devices use face book, twitter, instagram, goodreads, linked in ... to mention just a few. I confess I am something of a facebook addict and check in whenever I can. Perhaps people are less lonely these days, because contact with others comes quickly, at the click of a button – any time – anywhere – perhaps even in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert!
But, there’s a down side too. As a writer I've often been submerged. There are many connections to keep up with; platforms to create; blogs to read and blogs to write. I can easily spend all day in its maze and not do any ‘real’ writing at all. My inbox is always full. I enjoy writing letters – but even for an email junkie like me there are limits. There are too many connections and things to do which can result in my being far from productive.
I attended a party a few years ago where a friend hailed me across the room. I went and sat by her, ready to catchup. But she ignored me. She didn’t even say ‘excuse me’. I was taken aback! She carried on a text conversation as if I wasn’t there. After awhile, I got up and left to talk to someone else. I don’t think it occurred to her that her behavior was very rude. The problem is that there is often too much on offer. And we are all distracted. I've seen pictures on Facebook of families having a meal together – where everyone is occupied communicating with others who are elsewhere. Is that a family meal? Is anyone present at that table?
In this wonderful technology filled world, I feel I’m constantly bombarded. In my struggle with time, it’s easy to shift my moments with God to the backburner. It’s tempting to give into others who clamour for my attention. But of course I then lose out, big time. Nothing can ever replace my time with God. It is the fuel for my journey.
Here are some questions I might regularly ask myself.
Am a good steward of the time that God has entrusted me with?
Does my phone own me or do I own my phone?
Would I switch off sometimes so I can spend uninterrupted times with God?
When did I last fast from social media?
Do I need to respond to emails and texts the moment they come in?
How often do I enjoy silence and solitude?
Is my day filled with noise?
Do I know how to spend time meaningfully without computer, TV or phone?
If God sees how I use my time – what would He say?
Am I living an abundant life?
I confess I am often guilty of not using my time wisely. Of spending too much time on social media. Being present is a gift I can give someone today. How often do I give the gift to my spouse and my children? How often do I give the gift to God? How present am I in the world today? I ask myself the questions and often find myself wanting.
Immanuel (God with us) spells out to me how I should live.
The best gift I can give my world is simple but costly. My presence.
Am I willing to give it?
Am I willing to pay the price it requires?