The all-too-familiar sound of my iPhone caught my attention right in the middle of our dinner conversation. Naturally, I reached over to take a quick peak– until I noticed something pretty disconcerting.
I’m not as focused as I used to be on the people that matter most. Maybe you’ve noticed it in your life, too.
Surrounded by cell phones, technology, noise, and social media- it’s easier to get distracted by what’s going on “out there” rather than to stay focused on the here and now. In a culture that seems so wrapped up in self-gratification and promotion, it’s been easy to place my focus on myself and totally forget about what really matters – the people that mean the most to me.
In this age of distractions, I’ve been challenged to get my focus back on where it belongs- loving God and loving others. There’s nothing on earth more meaningful than that. As we go through life, it’s easy to slowly and subtlety lose sight of that goal somewhere along the way.
One thing I know for sure is that it’s time for a change in my relational world. Away from the distractions, the pull, and the noise- here are some ways I hope to practically get my heart and focus back where it needs to be:
1. Talk Less, Listen more: I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself at times falling into the trap of the “Facebook mentality”. What I mean by that is an attitude that is all about the self. Putting yourself on display for all to see. I’ve found that attitude slowly seeping into my real-life relationships. The symptoms are subtle, but they are dangerous. It’s an attitude that seeks to talk more than it seeks to listen, that longs to be known more than it longs to know. This has been something I’ve been really convicted of in my relationships this year and I want to be deliberate about changing that. I want to learn to be a person that talks less, and listens more. A person that is interested in the people around me, more than interested in their interest in me. I want to be “others-focused”, and I believe that starts with being deliberate about letting them take the spotlight. (See Philippians 2)
2. Ask more Questions: I have a friend who asks a lot of questions. I mean…tons. When she connects with someone, she wants to know everything about them, what they’ve been up to, and what they are passionate about. Talking to her almost feels like being interviewed on Oprah. Now, though I think that can be a little much at times, I think she is really onto something. Her heart is in the right place because it is others-focused. She wants to ask questions because she wants to know people. I want to do that to. I want to make others feel important, and do my part in getting to know them. I want to ask more questions this year, and be sure to hear the answers.
3. Offer encouragement: I must admit, this is one that I really want to get better at. It’s not natural for me to offer encouragement because it’s not something that I grew up with consistently. Our family was one that spoke through actions, not necessarily with words. But you know, words are so important, and they are an important part of loving and being loved. They nourish, strengthen, and grow relationships faster than many other things can. Encouragement takes you out of self-centeredness and into a life that is fixed on others. Find something valuable in someone, and then tell them about it. God promises that those who seek to bless others will find that they are the ones who are ultimately blessed (Proverbs 11:25).
4. Stay in the moment: I got an email from a young women who was telling me about a gathering she had experienced at which every single person was occupied by their cell phones. Texting, Tweeting, Pinning, Snap-chatting, Google-ing and Instagram-ing…there was always something to check, someone to update, or some information to find out.
And I believe her, because almost everywhere you go now, you look around and see people glued to their devices.
It’s hard to live in the moment in a society that is calling us out of the moment.
In a culture that has created for us a “matrix-like” world, filled with false connection, false intimacy, and false pride. In a world where we gain power with a click of a button.
But in exchange for this false sense of control, glory, and value…we are missing the present. We are missing the moment.
We are distracted by things that have not earned our attention, while surrounded by people who are deserving of it.
Our families, our spouses, our children, our friends. Our neighbors, our communities, and even the strangers that may come our way. Sacred moments have become secondary. It’s time to take these moments back. It’s time to enjoy them, savor them, and experience them. It’s time to live in the moment.
I’m challenged to first transform my heart and in turn my relationships. With the new year approaching, I hope you’ll be challenged, too.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!
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