Our technological world breeds distraction. Our televisions or IPods draw us during dinner, whether at home or in a restaurant. Our phones interrupt us with calls and texts. There is always a fresh blog to read. If we miss anything, it usually isn’t from lack of trying.
What happens to our relationships? It’s difficult to have in-depth conversations and caring relationships when we are distracted by other things instead of being fully present.
Last night I observed two groups at the restaurant where we were eating dinner. Whereas people at other tables were enjoying both food and conversation, these particular groups rarely looked up from their texting to converse with each other. I wonder what potential connection was lost. It is impossible to have the same meaningful conversations by text as we can in person. Texting is great when we are alone, but how much deep friendship is replaced with surface relationship when we don’t give our full attention to those right in front of us?
Jesus’s focus was on the person before him. In the midst of a very busy day of ministry a suffering woman neared him and dared to touch the hem of his garment, and he stopped everything to talk with her (Luke 8:43-38). He interrupted his plans for the least of these— blind, maimed, and sick people. He lived out the belief that every person is valuable and worth hearing, just as God does when we pray. No one is refused attention; no one is overlooked; distraction isn’t an option because Jesus gives the gift of his total presence, which is a form of love.
Far too often I have failed to turn my full attention to others (usually my husband) because my mind was on my stuff, not their needs or value. Hopefully my observations last night will make me more aware. I want to gift others with my complete presence, knowing that opportunities to initiate meaningful conversations won’t always be available.
What about you?