It starts early too. In high school? Well you best be in a few extra curriculars or at least one sport. Not to mention have a part time job to fund your active social life all while pulling honors. In college? Doesn't matter that your work load for school has tripled, you still need that part time job, and you now have twice as many clubs to belong to. You finally get out of school and are working full time. You think you might finally get a break, but the truth is that if you want to succeed in your new job you need to prove that you can indeed (you guessed it!) multi task. It's a skill that is not only an asset, but a must for most jobs. We need to do more in less time. We need to succeed, we need to survive.
It's no surprise that this mentality has crept into our home lives as well. Has anyone ever folded laundry while doing nothing else? Well no, you're probably watching TV, or having a conversation with your spouse at the same time. What about making dinner? Why not clean out the fridge while you're waiting for the water to boil? Perhaps give the sink a good scrub down?
Enter the technological age. Endless emails, texts and Facebook push notifications all delivered instantly to our smart phones. We have been re-wired to do it all, and when one of these things is glued to our hand, it's not hard for everything to turn into Task 1 + (insert smart phone task here) I am by no means innocent in this. The other day I caught myself making dinner, cleaning the stove, texting with a friend and checking my Facebook all at the same time. There are many ways to spell ridiculous, of you know what I mean. Now. I didn't burn dinner, the stove got cleaned, my friend and I arranged when we would be seeing each other next and I read a funny comment someone wrote on my wall. No harm done, right? Other than the need for the deep breathe once I finally sat down, of course.
So here is where I draw the line. Relationships. Being present in a moment with another human being. Sans phone. I know I can't be the only one that gets offended when a friend is constantly looking down at the notifications that pop up, and depending what they are, even stopping for a moment to answer/read the text or email/check the sports score. The problem is that it has become a literal habit. Our hands have a muscle memory that reaches for our phone in any moment where our brain doesn't feel completely stimulated (in an over stimulated world) Watching a show? Pick it up on the commercials. Out for coffee with a friend? Pick it up when they go to the bathroom. At the movies? Look at until the previews start. I'm embarrassed to say that I noticed myself the other night picking up my phone when Chris and I had paused a movie so he could get a glass of water. We even have a rule of no phones or computers after 9 pm, but apparently in that moment I assumed it only counted if he was in the room...
Are we that uncomfortable with stillness that we can't sit and stare at the wall of Starbucks for 3 full minutes? Is it a social thing? We feel awkward? Os it boredom? Are we too used to having our mind go a mile a minute? I don't know about you, but I can tell you that my Facebook and Instagram is never that interesting.
For me, I also wonder when on earth I expect to hear from God if I am in a constant state of activity and my mind never rests. Silence and solitude are spiritual disciplines that bring us into a place where we can hear from God, but I have to wonder why it's so hard to get there. The harder I try to train myself to experience these things, the more I become frustrated with why it isn't easy. Why is stillness so uncomfortable?
I think it's time to take a little fast from my smart phone, so I'm deleting my Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone (they're the only ones I look at) for a week, and only using it to communicate with people (call/text) If the thought of doing that terrifies you, maybe it would be a good idea for you to as well. Might be interesting... I want a new muscle memory of the heart. One that desires to be fully present in moments with people, and when I am alone I want to desire nothing more than to be present with my Savior.
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