by Jessica Leep Fick
When was the last time you actually felt like someone was listening to you? That they gave you their full, undivided attention and responded with thoughtful comments or questions to what you were sharing about?
Unfortunately, many of us can’t think of a recent conversation where this has been true. I was at church recently trying to engage in conversation with someone before the service. He was on his phone and I thought that once we started talking he would put it away and we would continue our conversation.
Apparently, Candy Crush was more interesting than what I had to offer that morning. He stayed on his phone the whole time, glimpsing down to watch the glowing candies disappear as I kept trying to make conversation. It wasn’t long before I disappeared to take my seat at church.
Even without the distraction of our ever-present phones, we live distracted lives. Although the experience at church was disappointing, it’s painful for me to realize that I often do the same thing. My kids want to talk to me about their day and I’m mentally checked out, thinking about the emails I need to return.
Over coffee, a friend shares with me about some work challenges and I’m thinking about how instagrammable my green tea latte looks.
At work, during long conference calls, I’ll sneak a look at my phone to see if any texts have come through.
As we follow Jesus in the day to day, our lives can look different than living distractedly. First Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
The King James version of this passage was translated as “peculiar people.” To belong to God means that we live with his full, undivided love and attention each and every day. We are eternally connected to Jesus, the source of life and peace. We can be empowered daily through the Holy Spirit to see ourselves and others as God sees them.
Through belonging to God, we become more aware of his presence, we are transformed and are able to become present to others. It is peculiar and amazing when someone chooses to shut his or her laptop, or put the phone away during a conversation. It communicates, “You are important. What you are saying matters. You are worthy of my attention.”
Recently, I was training a group of women in New York on how to share the stories of where Jesus is showing up in their real lives. As we talked about how to engage with friends who are far from God, one key point was “be present” in conversation. One of the women spoke up and said, “That sounds really simple, but it’s really hard to do that!”
Often, it’s the simplest things that feel the most difficult to do. We try to lose weight, but we eat the doughnuts left in the lunchroom. We try to be kinder to our spouses or roommates, but find ourselves quickly snapping at them. We try to share Jesus with others, but feel empty or fake when we try to speak up.
Jesus affects everything–and everyone–in our lives. As we choose to be in the presence of Jesus through reading scripture, prayer, solitude, and community, he helps us to take what he’s given and share it with others. His presence helps us to be present.
That’s conviction enough for me to put my phone away so that I can experience more of God’s presence for myself and the people who don’t yet know him.
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Jessica Leep Fick (@JessicaLeepFick) is the national director of Evangelism Resources for Stonecroft Ministries which is committed to reaching every woman “where she is + as she is.” She is author of Beautiful Feet: Unleashing Women to Everyday Witness. Jessica is married to Dave and enjoys exploring Kansas City with their two sons.