Here on the blog last week, I promised that I would share some ways in which I attempting to put my one word, present, into action so far this year.
So let’s get right to it…
The first approach is something I’ve been trying to incorporate since the season of Advent, prior to Christmas. Each morning, I set my alarm at least fifteen minutes before I need to get up and I spend some time reading the gospel for the day. Now I’m not going to lie; the scene looks a little different than it did initially. During the holidays, I semi-willingly got up and out of bed to snuggle on the couch with a warm cup of coffee, the glow of a lit and fragrant candle, and the Christmas tree shining brightly in the early morning darkness. However, post-holiday, I now simply turn on the lamp on my nightstand, prop my head up on a pillow, and read from the comfort of my own bed. Not nearly as pretty, yet I claim either method to be a magnificent success in my humble opinion.
This simple act of just fifteen minutes allows me a few, quality moments with God, one on one, as I begin my day. The house is quiet and serene and therefore, being present surfaces more easily. I might read over the gospel once or twice, and then continue to lie there, or I may grab a pen and paper to write down a few words that jumped out at me. The point is that it doesn’t matter when or how or what I do; the point is that I just do. That’s all God asks of us, my friends. The God who gave us His son to die for our sins only asks for a little time in return; even if it’s just fifteen minutes every morning. And not because we feel obligated, but because we are grateful. There is always a difference.
The second way I’m choosing to be present is by eliminating social media after 7:30 p.m. every evening. Take note, my social-media-obsessed-friends…this is not easy. Yet in all honesty, I came to the obvious realization that if anything of great importance were to happen, someone would notify me in other ways. For example, via an actual phone call. This addition (or subtraction) from my life has proven to be very fruitful. I’ve spent my time organizing, reading, journaling, and yes, even just watching TV. The difference is that I am focused on the moment at hand. Because tell me, how often are you watching TV while simultaneously looking at your phone? It’s simply not feasible to give 100% of your attention to two things at once, no matter how often we utter the words, “What? I’m listening!” I encourage you to try this on your own (really…try it!). Take up a hobby that doesn’t require you to pass individual levels on Candy Crush. Read a book, color a page, or journal. Believe me, social media can wait.
And finally, the last promise I’ve made to myself in the pursuit of being present is to put my phone out of sight when in the company of others. I am increasingly saddened to see families out to dinner together where everyone at the table is looking down at their phones rather than at each other. Conversations seem to be a lost art, don’t you agree? I recently read an article which said a lot of us use the excuse that we need our phones in plain view in case of an emergency. Well I can guarantee (because I am guilty of this myself) that if I receive a phone notification of any sort, you can be sure I’m going to look and see what or who it was, regardless of whether I think it's an emergency. But here's the thing - what we see as just a minor inconvenience can be a major disappointment for the person who is in the midst of sharing a story with us. Let’s be kind to one another, my friends. In word and in action.
Will all of these endeavors be easy, all of the time? Will I always be able to pull myself out of a sleep-filled slumber to pray in the morning? Will I be able to resist the urge of social media every single night? And will you never again see me seated at a table without a phone by my side? Well, I think you know the answer to each of those.
We can’t strive to be successful 100% of the time because we will continually fail. But the hope is that eventually, these aspirations will become more of a habit as time goes on. And if that is the result, we will have achieved what we set out to do.
Time to share....how will you be following through with your one word?