Don’t Be Absent When You Are Present

Of the many striking traits of Jesus, one that amazes me is that he never seemed to be in a hurry.  Though he was involved in doing the most important work that has ever been done on earth, he was never in a rush.   It seems that wherever Jesus found himself, he acted like that place was the most important place for him to be.

When people met Jesus, whether in a crowd or a one on one conversation, he made them feel like nothing else mattered except them.  In this way he made people feel special and important.  No wonder people were so drawn to him!

I call this trait “being in the moment.”  (We used to refer to it as “undivided attention.”)  It is the ability to be with someone without being distracted.  Your heart, mind and spirit are totally focused on them.

With cellphones having evolved into tiny handheld computers, it is becoming increasingly rare to have someone “be in the moment” with you.  Facebook, Twitter, email and instant messaging scream for people’s attention from within their pocket or purse.  Like a two year old, the cellphone demands, “Notice me!  Notice me!  Notice me!” with its persistent chirp, ring or buzz.

And we all have become slaves to the devices.

The result is that people are superficially connected.  But at a deep, personal level there is a void of emotional intimacy.  In that way, the devices and apps that have been created to keep us connected have actually failed us.

It interferes in every kind of relationships:  marriage, parent-child, friends, and family.

Let me give some suggestions to help you be in the moment in two areas, with your spouse and with your children.

As a parent:

  • give your children 30 uninterrupted minutes a day of yourself (that’s .02 of day)
  • explain to them that you are giving them some of your time and why (that is, because they are important to you)
  • do whatever they want to do during the 30 minutes (it might be playing a game together, or reading a book, or watching them color/draw, or talking about their day)
  • try hard to appear relaxed and not be in a hurry to leave and do something else (Don’t look at your phone!  Better yet, don’t even have it with you.)

As a spouse:

  • look for a moment when your spouse is doing something that you normally don’t involve yourself with; walk up and ask them how (not if) you can help, or ask them to explain it to you
  • ask them about their day (try and see how many questions you can ask them about their day, so that they have to give you as much detail as possible about their day)
  • listen without interrupting and without thinking about what you are going to say
  • use the power of caring touch
  • in case you might miss the obvious here, be sure you’ve turned off all electronic devices that could be a distraction

I hope you’ll give this tool a try.  Be patient with yourself as you try to learn how to use it. The more you use it the more familiar you become with it and the more natural it feels.

Use it everyday for one month and I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in how you feel about yourself and how your family is responding to you.

Good luck!

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