How many times a day do we try multi-task under the guise of getting more things done?
And how many times does that multi-tasking take away from the people around us?
Answering emails while talking on the phone? Check.
Listening to the latest Serial podcast while writing Christmas cards? Check.
Thinking of the grocery list while you're chatting with a friend at lunch? Check.
Even as I sat down to write this for all of you, I was watching episode 4 in the first season of Gilmore Girls (oh Netflix - you win all the prizes when it comes to best distractions). The society we live in tells us not to be still, not to accomplish less than 35,892,938 things per day, to check our phone constantly, to scroll Instagram all day to keep up with what is going on in the lives of people we only know on the Internet (or at best, folks we haven't put actual effort into speaking with in months or even years).
Now, do me a favor, and really think about this question: what would happen if we gave those in front of us the gift of being fully present?
If instead of checking Facebook, we actually put down the iPhone and truly listened to our husband tell us about his workday. If instead of paying bills while on the phone with a friend, we listened to her tell us about her dreams and ideas and responded with encouragement and thoughtful advice. If instead of getting caught up in what's next on the to-do list, we actually saw the person right in front of us and cherished that time with them.
How would it make the people with us feel? Probably pretty important. Loved. Heard. Respected.
How would it make us feel? Probably like a better friend/wife/mother/daughter. Less stressed. More grateful.
This quote by Jim Elliot is one of my all time favorites. It often rings in the back of my mind when I feel myself getting caught up in the whirlwind of distractions that comes with simply being alive.
Call me crazy, but I believe will all my heart that the gift of being fully present is one of the kindest, most respectful things we can do for a fellow human.
I want to be the best friend I can be to the people in my life - the person they can depend on to be a listening ear or give sound advice. I want to be a great wife - for my husband to know I'm in this with him - not on the sidelines only cheering when I hear something that sounds interesting to me. I want to be the person who sees someone who looks like they could use a smile and a kind word in the grocery store parking lot and asks how they are instead of being wholly consumed with me and where I need to go next.
For these next couple of weeks, I challenge you to do one of the most difficult things of all during this highly Instagrammable, Facebookeable, chaotic, to-do-list-a-mile-long holiday season: PUT THE PHONE DOWN. See the full picture - not just the 3x3 square image. Actually look people in the eyes as they speak to you. Tell them you love them. Smile at strangers in the mall. And give your fellow humans the best Christmas gift of all - better than expensive toys and Anthropologie clothes and power tools - your undivided attention, a present that only you can give.