As I lay in bed last night thinking over my day, I saw snapshots of me being with my family – but not fully there.
I asked my daughter to feed the dog . . . while I was staring at my computer screen.
I played with my daughter in her play room . . . while I thought about something I needed to get done later.
I kissed my husband when he got home . . . while I calculated how soon we needed to leave in order to deliver a piece of furniture on time.
I listened to a friend talk about her day over the phone . . . while I scanned my email for new messages.
I heard Rob Bell speak once, and a statement he made returned to me. He said something to the effect of “I learned about being fully present one day when I was playing with my young child and realized he had just said my name three times before I even realized he was talking to me.”
Oh, I mourned those lost opportunities to really connect within those relationships that are most important to me! It’s not that I need to be playing with my daughter every second of our day together; she needs to learn how to play on her own some. But when I’m with her, I want to be fully with her. When my husband tells me about his day, I want to be completely present. When I have my quiet time with God, I want to be focused on him and not thinking about the other things that need to be done during the day. We say relationships matter, but what are we communicating when we don’t really give them our full attention?
Being fully present. In an age where we place a high value on multi-tasking, and we aim to do too much in one day, it’s difficult to do. A couple months ago as I tried to simplify my life, one thing I committed to doing was turning off the TV when I was not actually watching it. I was amazed at how much more productive I was without having the extra noise in the background. Although I could indeed multi-task, I didn’t realize the effect it had on my ability to work. I think it’s the same way with relationships.
So my goal today is to be fully present with people: to stop what I’m doing to engage with my daughter when she comes to talk with me, to look people in the eye (and not look at other things . . . like the computer!) when I’m talking with them, to do nothing else but listen while talking on the phone with a friend, to actually think about how amazing my husband is when I welcome him home with a kiss.
How can you be more fully present with people today?