I was sitting at Vacation Bible School, helping out in the nursery. One of the other mothers had just taken her daughter out to change her diaper. She left her phone on the table. It began to ring, and one of the other helpers immediately picked it up and ran to take it to her. At the surface, there may not seem to be anything wrong with this scene. I admit, I’ve done the same thing as that helper. When someone else’s phone rings and they are not nearby, I feel this urgency to get their phone to them. Do you ever feel this? It’s a rather silly thought; I mean, even before cell phones, we had answering machines for goodness’ sake!
Many of our most “useful” technologies are showing signs of increasing these feelings of urgency. By now we all know that cell phones, laptops, tablets, and social media only give us the false impression that we have more time or are able to manage it better. If anything, we are busier, more anxious, and feel more alone than ever. These technologies impress upon us the weight of urgency. Even as I write this, my phone has buzzed with two emails, a text message, and, I’m sur,e some Facebook or Pinterest notifications.
By keeping technology close at hand, many people feel immense pressure to respond right away. Drop everything for a text. Email has to be read and answered. Social-media posts have to be liked or shared. Everything needs a response. There is this insane urgency surrounding us. As I watched that helper rush out of the room, I was forced to grapple with the reality of the slaves we have willfully become.
As in all things, balance is required. There are so many good and beautiful things that have blossomed because of technology — this site for certain! There are exceptions and thank goodness we have this kind of connectivity for the times we truly need it. Balance for each of us will look different. For me, it means primarily two things:
- Doing a better job of leaving my phone in one place in the house rather than carrying it around in my pocket all day.
- Doing my best to always choose the person in front of me first, rather than prioritizing the one I am connecting with via technology.
Both of these in their own way help me to detach from a false sense of urgency. When I leave my phone in one place, I am able to focus on the task at hand, rather than being distracted by the junk mail in my inbox. It does mean that I miss calls sometimes, but hey hey, we have voicemail =)
The second one is hard, because many times the person in front of me is whining, complaining, needy, stinky, and sometimes covered with unknown substances. When given the choice between dealing with all that and reading a sweet blog post, listening to a podcast, or catching up on so-and-so’s new baby, which would you rather deal with? But, under the layers of whatever is the beautiful, cheerful, loving face of one of my children who more than anything simply wants to know that I love them and value whatever it is they have to say.
When we begin to feel overwhelmed, or feel the weight of urgency taking over, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes. We want to see more clearly our present moment instead of being consumed with the need to respond.
Copyright 2018 Kate Taliaferro