What does this mean to you? Look up the word ‘present’ – so many choices for meanings. As I consider this simple statement, I can see many grace opportunities.
We live in a time that is rushed, multi-tasking is valued, and competition for our time and attention is fierce. I’m sure we have all had the experience of trying to interact with someone – in person, on the phone, or even just trying to schedule time – and it is evident that the other person is not ‘present’. Those times when you’re pretty sure you could start spouting nonsense, and you would get nods of assent, smiles, and mumbles of agreement. Or you could get up and walk away from the conversation and not be missed? How do you feel when you try to bring up that subject at a later time and you’re met with a blank stare?
Now, maybe the harder question…how often do you do that to others? Ouch! When was the last time you put down your electronics (or, gasp, turned them off) and actually made eye contact with the person that is talking to you. Now the tricky part – did you really focus on what they were saying, or were your eyes glazed over and your mind on the next ten things you needed to do? Again, ouch! This is something that I need to work on. I know that I am guilty.
Being present – focusing on the person, listening intently, actively participating in conversation – what an awesome gift (present) to give. Think about how you feel when someone offers you the incredible gift of their time and attention. It doesn’t cost anything financially. Have you been on the receiving end of someone’s undivided attention? It can actually be unnerving – I think we have become so used to being ignored that having undivided attention can actually make you kind of squirmy.
My challenge is to be better at being present – and see how many people I can make squirmy!