Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Giving Presence

     My six year old made a comment to me several months ago that went something like this: "Mommy, you play on your phone all the time."  At that moment, I was actually responding to something important, so I pointed that out to her.  A few weeks later, she said again, "Mommy, you are on your phone sending messages all the time."  Each time she said it, I automatically felt and acted defensive.  The problem?  She was right.  Don't you just hate it when that happens?

     We live in a world that is very "social"...Well, maybe we should say we are very "connected"...No, that's not exactly right either.  What are we then?  I have over 1,000 "friends" on my Facebook, and this blog has been viewed a little over 9,500 times.  Wow, I must have some social life, huh?  NOPE! 
     Social media can be a great tool.  It keeps me in touch with my family that lives 500 miles away, it helps me stay up to date on old friends from high school who I otherwise would have lost touch with completely, and it has helped me to "talk" more with people who were just acquaintances before.  However, it doesn't help me to never feel lonely, and I surely don't feel more social.  What does it do more often than help me stay connected?  It disconnects me from those who are right in front of me.

     In order for us to feel that we are "up" on what's going on in our news feed,  we must constantly check in.  That means, when I'm playing with my kids, I'm constantly scrolling my Facebook.  When I'm visiting with a friend, I'm commenting on posts and pictures.  When I go stay with my parents who live away from me, I'm seeing what is going on back in my hometown.  I'm so connected to online people, that the flesh and blood in front of me is being ignored.  It feeds a loneliness, because I leave these moments feeling unfulfilled.  We take our phones into doctor's office waiting rooms to fill the time, thus ignoring those around us.  We occupy ourselves on road trips, thus leaving the driver in his/her own silence.  Why?

     I asked myself why it is that we can't give those who are with us our presence.  I don't want to just sit in the room with someone, I want their attention.  I don't think that is too much to ask.  I also don't think that is too much to give.  It is safe to say that in my life and the lives of many of those close to me, time is as precious of a commodity as money.  Time is dear to us, yet we waste what we have by ignoring our friends and family so that we can stay "connected".  Shame on us. 

     This very post has been marinating in my mind for a while, and every time I thought about not writing it, something spoke to me about it in the form of a commercial, a Facebook post, or even an online video.  I didn't know why, but last night as I was laying in bed, it finally hit me.  God wants our presence too.  Ouch.  I spend so much time talking about and working for God, that I know He sometimes feels like that friend sitting across from me at lunch eating in silence while I scroll through my news feed.  I'm going to be honest, as I prayed, I mostly had to apologize for giving my time, but not my presence.  How hurt He must feel!  How lonely my mind and soul felt after all that silence between us. 

     I am not saying that is anything wrong with social media.  I love it.  I use it. I don't see either of those things changing.  However, let's learn to not cling to people who may or may not be sincere, who may or may not even be who they claim.  Let's give those around us the best gift of all, OUR PRESENCE!  It was not easy to set my phone down upstairs at my mother's house and go downstairs to sit with her.  What if someone needed to get in touch with me?  What if something important happened and I didn't know?  What if someone needed prayer and I missed it? You know what?  It was wonderful.  No, I didn't get to post twenty pictures of all of us sitting around chatting, but I also didn't miss half of every conversation that occurred.  They had my presence.  AND THEY NOTICED!

     As women, mothers, wives, friends, etc, let's give those around us our presence.  Let's touch the lives of those who are right here with us.  Let's be present in the lives of our children.  Let's be present in our relationships with God.  That is my challenge for all of us, here is my prayer:

God, we love You.  We love our children, our husbands, our families, and our friends.  Help us to give them all of us when we are in their presence.  Help us to give You our best attention.  Keep us from distractions, even those that are well intended, so that we can truly connect to those who are important in our lives.  We praise and love You, amen.

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