Do you ever feel like you are pulled in so many different directions that you are spinning in circles?
I often feel I’m in way over my head. At first, I think I’ve got it mastered: my daily planner spells it out in black and white. It looks so simple, as if there is so much time available for each thing I have to get done, for each event I have to attend.
I’ve said before, I’m a nut for lists. I sit down at the beginning of each week, list out everywhere we need to be each day of that week, and sometimes I get so OCD about it I make sub-lists for my master list that organizes all the items I will need to take to each event.
I know: just describing the list itself is exhausting. What my safe little planner doesn’t account for are the hiccups.
Hiccups are those unexpected, often annoying, and sometimes even painful, glitches that inevitably occur in the schedule. You know the ones.
Monday night’s game gets rained out so it’s moved to Thursday. You were planning on grocery shopping Thursday, so bump that to Monday. Tuesday you have to work later than planned, so hubby has to pick up the baby and doesn’t have time to get the oil changed, which will have to now wait until, well, oh, who knows? It will have to wait. Again. Saturday is jam packed with a wedding, birthday party, and laundry… until your six-year old gets sick. Laundry and RSVPs it is.
It’s life, right? We’ve all been there.
But, have we actually BEEN there?
In the midst of all those busy schedules and hiccups, did we remember to enjoy our lives and take it all in?
At the risk of getting too philosophical, I’m going to ponder “presence” just a little bit. I may have physically been at the t-ball game, but was I really there? I saw my little man get up to bat, but was I focusing on how tired I was and what a busy day I have tomorrow instead of that sweet fist pump after he made it to first base?
Jim Elliot said something so profound. In researching information on this topic, I saw it over and over again. He said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Wow. Clearly, Elliot wasn’t talking about our physical being when he told us to “be all there”. He was talking about our mentality.
We are more productive when we have it all together physically and mentally. If we are at work physically AND mentally, we will be more proficient. If I’m not worried about the next item on my life’s to-do list and actually buckled down on the job, I could probably double my effectiveness.
If I make the effort to be mentally present in my relationship with my husband, I will be able to learn more about him. I am showing him the respect he deserves, because he has my attention. I can engage in meaningful conversation rather than superficial chatting, which leads to a deeper connection with my spouse. And, (bonus point!) he will be more willing to listen to me when I have something to say.
If I make the effort to be mentally present in my relationships with my children, the benefits are nearly endless. I will build their confidence, because my “presence” and attention assures them that they are valuable to me and that their concerns are important to me. I’m teaching them how to listen to others by being a good listener. By being attentive to my children, I am soaking in every little detail of their precious voices, faces, expressions, and mannerisms, all of which seem to change by the second. By making the effort to “be all there”, I am ensuring that when they are grown and gone, I will never regret wasted time.
There is a difference in spending time together and spending quality time together.
I will say this once, and then I’ll get off my soapbox.
PUT. DOWN. THE. PHONE.
Disconnect. We can get things done and put everything else on hold one task at a time. We have become a generation of multi-taskers that has become so skilled at multi-tasking we’ve taken away the value of being really good at one thing at a time. In the aftermath of all the multi-tasking, we are left with a completed checklist on paper and an empty heart where precious memories and deeper meaning should reside.
If we got better at one thing at a time, multi-tasking becomes so much less meaningful and so much more unattractive. Savor the moments. Breathe in deeply and etch those memories into your heart.
It’s that blur I was referring to earlier; that spinning in circles that makes you forget in which direction you were going.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, am I mentally present in my spiritual life? Do I attend worship services physically and mentally? Just sitting in the pew is not sufficient. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
So is he.
Do I apply to my life what I read in the pages of my Bible? Do I teach it to others? I can’t if I’m not mentally present when I go through the physical act of reading or engaging in Bible studies.
Every aspect of our lives. Every facet. Don’t be a superficial robot. Be a person.
Slow down. Take it in. Be all there. 100%, unapologetically, fully engaged and undeniably present. I know you can’t clear your schedule. I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to show up to every scheduled event, physically and mentally, and see how much more accomplished you’ll feel.