Miles Apart

Miles Apart in the Same Room

Nathan Smith Life Skills, Technology

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It’s been said that there’s nothing like the gift of presence.  Sure, presents are nice and experiences are special but having someone to share those gifts and experiences with are what make life full.  Most of us have had those moments where we witnessed something amazing or had something cool happen to us and we found ourselves looking to our left and right, trying to find someone with whom to to share the experience.  It’s in those moments we realize just how important it is to have people in our lives sharing our good times and bad.  The challenge these days is even when people are in the same room and same moment together they may or may not be sharing the experience.  They are texting, or tweeting, or streaming on their smartphone and are miles away in their mind.  It’s lonely enough when you are on your own and have no one present.  It can be an empty feeling to have people with you and still have no one present. So what do we do?

It is my guess that the Smartphone will, in time, be looked at as the most innovative and yet most divisive devices in modern history.  We can do so many amazing, productive and entertaining things with our smartphones and because of their portability and connectivity, they are always available to us.  The apps are endless and it its limitations truly seem to be contingent on imagination alone.  However, with all of that entertainment, productivity, potential and power in our pocket that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people to restrain themselves.  And, can we be honest?  Restraint is not something Western society is particularly fond of.  It can seem like a ‘catch 22’ when the skill most needed to navigate these challenges is the thing our society professes is completely unnecessary. (Click Here To Read My Post Called ‘Are You Strong Enough To Use Restraint’)

Can You Hear Me Now?

No one is denying all of the valuable things our smartphones enable us to accomplish.  For that matter, you may be reading this on your smartphone right now (thanks for taking the time to do that!).  We have to recognize, though, that our ability to do all of these helpful, productive things at any point in the day from nearly any location forces us to a place of decision (and let’s be honest, not everything we’re doing on our smartphone is helpful or productive).  As much as we’d like to place all of the blame on the device in our pockets, the truth is our phone is not in control of our decision making process.  We are.  Or, at least, we are supposed to be.  And this will be the hard part.  We have to realize that we are living out our values every day by the moment by moment decisions we make. We can blame the pop up notifications, or the barrage of emails from the office or our powerful need to see our friends vacation photos as the reason why we are so unavailable and ‘non-present’ in the moment but the reality is that we value productivity or our own entertainment above being available relationally.  (Click Here To Read My Post ‘Relationships Aren’t Efficient’)

It may seem like an over-reach to you to be labeled as ‘unavailable relationally’ simply because you have to catch up some emails from time to time while there are people in the room.  And I would agree.  However, you must be also be willing to recognize the difference between ‘every now and then’ and every day.  The accessible, connective nature of our smartphones aren’t really prone to ‘every now and then’.  They are built for ‘all the time’.  And if you don’t willfully and strategically limit yourself and clarity your values each day then you will default into what is most convenient.  And guess what that is?

There are amazing stories in the room you are in at any given moment.  There are people needing encouragement.  There are people needing to see your face and experience your smile.  There are friendships to discover and divine appointments to share.  Value that above reaching the next level on candy crush.  Tell yourself when you will and won’t be on your phone and stick to your limits.  This will give you room to be more available for the Lord to use you in the lives of the people He has placed around you in any given moment.  It won’t be as efficient.  You may not lead 100 people to the Lord every time you decide to be ‘relationally available’ at the family reunion or at the school assembly.  But, you will be present.  And more people recognize that than you may realize.  Don’t underestimate how valuable you are.  Your presence makes a difference.  So be present without distraction.  You’ll share some special moments with both friends and strangers when you are.  You may even share a powerful moment with the Lord that you would have missed otherwise.  (Click Here To Read ‘My Smartphone Ate My Prayer Life’)

From The Bible

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10 ESV

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3 ESV

Let brotherly love continue. – Hebrews 13:1 ESV

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