Monday, September 10, 2018

Our Presence Matters

A few weeks ago, I went to a concert with my family. As we enjoyed the music of the opening act, I couldn’t help but notice all the lit up screens around me. I nudged my teenage daughter and told her what I was thinking—I don’t get it.

It’s not that people were taking pictures of the performance, they were scrolling social media and taking selfies. Lots of selfies. And then quickly posting said selfies.

Thinking out loud, I whispered, “Why not enjoy the time spent with friends and family now instead of constantly worrying about what the world sees on social media?”

She said, “Because if it’s not on social media it’s like it didn’t happen.”

Oh. That’s sad.

Our time with others in real life shouldn’t need to be validated by the online world.

Selfies and goofy pictures prove we were there, but did we miss the opportunity to enjoy our time while we were there?

Having just recently lost a loved one, I know how quickly life as we know it can change. I’m glad I have the pictures we took to remember the happier times, but I also deeply treasure the time spent together, especially in the hard last days. Had I been constantly checking social media I would have missed the conversations and the gift of time I was given.

Watching the activity around me, I couldn’t help but think about the time people spend with others without really being present. Maybe you think it doesn’t matter, but it does. Your presence matters.

In Jesus’ time on earth, He didn’t have to worry about technology and keeping up with what everyone was doing. Wherever He was, He was present. And lives were changed. {Tweet this}

Our presence with Jesus and with others matters. When we’re preoccupied with other stuff, we miss the opportunity to relate to those around us. And they miss out on spending time with us.

Yes, I know, life is busy and much of the time we are trying to juggle multiple things at once. Maybe the issue isn’t all that we have going on, but how we prioritize our time. People can see what matters to us.

I remember sitting in a meeting watching team members, including the team leader, stare at their screens. It only took a few minutes to understand the priorities—screens mattered more than the people sitting around the table. It’s probably not what was intended, but it’s the message that was received.

How often do we send that message to those around us?

How often do we send that message to God when we sit down to spend time with Him, but find ourselves distracted with other things?

Our presence matters—to God, our spouse, our children, parents, friends, co-workers, and the list goes on.

Sometimes all we can offer someone is our presence, to sit with another when there’s nothing else we can do. Our presence matters. It’s what is remembered and often what means the most. {Tweet this}

I’m not against social media; it has its good points. But like most things, it also has its drawbacks. While it helps us keep in touch with others, it also takes our attention away from who we’re with right now, causing us to lose the chance to make memories today.

What we see on social media may or may not be what’s really happening in someone’s life. But those around us—our relationships—they are real whether we let others see into our world or not. And our presence in real life matters. {Tweet this}

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


14 comments:

  1. This is such a good reminder, Laura! It's something God whispered to my heart pretty much every day this summer with my kids. As I struggled to balance writing, social media, mentoring younger women, and all of the tech time that went with those things, the daily reminder was to be present to my kids. I need to keep this in the front of my mind as we dive into autumn! Thanks for these words today, friend!

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  2. It's truly the tragedy of our times, Laura. We are so caught up in capturing moments that live-and-breathe moments are passing us by. I'm sure that one day people will look back on those pictures and realize what they missed in that moment. Thanks for your inspiring words to us. We must not squander the times God gives us to be present and connect with others, rather than with our screens.

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  3. Laura, I've been mulling these ideas over for quite awhile as I use social media more. I've found I have to be intentional about putting my phone away, creating times to unplug several times each day, and purposefully leave my phone behind when I'm playing with my kids. It's harder than it sounds. Our presence matters! Love this!

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  4. Such a good word about a pervasive problem. laurensparks.net

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  5. This is wonderful. Having two teenagers and a 10 year old, we constantly feel like we have to compete with the screens. We did institute the rule of no screens at the dinner table. This is family time and we are going to talk about our day without interruptions. I love your advice on being present, not only to our families but also to God. Many times Satan tries to distract us from that worship and sometimes he even uses our own technology. We have to learn what exactly it means to be present. What does God want in our presence with Him?

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  6. These are such good thoughts. And especially this summed it all up for me: "How often do we send that message to God when we sit down to spend time with Him, but find ourselves distracted with other things?" Distraction seems to be the lifestyle for this age. It is so easy to allow any and everything to take us away from the present. Oh may I allow the Lord to help me be truly present in the moments that He sets before me. Blessings to you.

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  7. Oh, how true this is! I am right there with you, yet sometimes I'm pulled by the draw of social media. Your daughter was exactly right in her sad assessment of society.

    But this is truth: "Our time with others in real life shouldn’t need to be validated by the online world."

    Amen. Amen.

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  8. There is much wisdom in this post. Time passes so quickly. May we connect with those God has placed in our lives and make those moments count.

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  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom, Laura. Our presence does matter and it makes a difference in the lives of others. Even when we think it doesn't. Our presence is one of our most precious commodities. Let's use it wisely.

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  10. We are caught in a world that values ourselves more than looking outside to what others need. The dynamic at the concert sounds very much like what many feel is real life. However, I am with you in focusing on the gift of presence rather than who will see us in the social media world. Thank you for these wise words.

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  11. I agree, social media is a great tool and of course it's nice to have photos to remind us of special people and moments, but it's sad when people are too caught up in these things and it prevents them from really being present and enjoying the moment.

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  12. Although I have a smart phone now (after 20+ years with a flip phone) I have never taken a selfie and will probably not start now. I am 70 and realize through your words that I believe I am grateful that I am 70 and do not NEED that now in my life. I spent most of my younger life trying to please others and not myself, certainly not God. Oh, I want to please Him more than anyone, anything.

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  13. Amen, Laura! I think it's important to set aside intentional face to face time where we stop to listen and be. Thanks for this great reminder!

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  14. This is such a good reminder for me. I am pretty good when I am out and about but being present inside my house is just as hard as anywhere else. I love this. Thanks so much for sharing.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!