Friday, July 22, 2011

Investing Time: The Secret to Ending Lonliness

Ever feel like the world would keep spinning without you, but nothing would get accomplished without you either?  Sometimes I think I live in a world of contradictions, that I am a walking, talking contradiction. 

This past week I did not write as I was out of town playing the role of Maid of Honor to an old friend from college.  I purposely left my computer at home so I could enjoy the slow pace of what is Northern California.  I landed Thursday night with no plans (other than to fix a dress, which turned out needed no fixing), and enjoyed a quite night with my sister’s family and my mother. 

About an hour into my visit, when the hello’s and hi-ya’s ceased, and the baby was enjoying the new freedom of walking, I noticed my companions had pulled out their phones and were working.  I commented that I should pull my own phone out and play a game or something and was told my brother feels the same way, but that they were all still present in the moment, just getting work done.  All of them had work to do. 

Now, I am not saying doing work is not good, as I am the first to say I am a work-a-holic.  However, I have begun to learn that working does not necessarily mean productive, and that there is a time and a place.  At that moment, the selfish part of me, believed working was not the appropriate thing to be doing in my 48 hour turn around visit.  It felt nice to know my kid brother gets bothered by the same thing. 

I thought to myself that at that moment I could have, and should have, been working on an article for the paper, prepping for the auction for our combat human trafficking campaign, and probably over at the church helping with last minute decorations for the wedding the following day (not to mention writing a blog for my six adoring fans!)  But instead, I went up to visit with the intention of investing time with those I love.

Investing time…not spending time.  I felt at that moment I was spending time, shelling out hours. I know my family is excellent at multitasking (after all, they taught me), but I am learning that sometimes multitasking is not what is beneficial. 

My parents just bought this property in the country (literally, well water and no street lights).  I enjoyed the slow pace of the country, and harkened back to a time of simplicity, where books by the fire and conversation over the dinner table were the norm.  Not that I ever lived in that time.  But I thought we are missing something in this day of technology.

Sure, technology allowed my brother-in-law to come visit with me while he was on-call for work.  And technology keeps me in touch with those I love (and sometimes those I would prefer not to be in touch with).  But is this connection really making us more connected?  There is a higher divorce rate, depression and suicide in the age of technology that is suppose to connect us than at any other time in history.  The complaints of loneliness are astounding!  There is something to be said about remembering to stop SPENDING time with people and start INVESTING time with them. 

We invest our money into stock and bank accounts because it gives a higher return rate.  Why do we not carry that same principle into our relationships?  Aren’t relationships why we are on this earth, not money?  If we want a higher return, to feel connected, why not invest?  Why not pour into others instead of ourselves?  Why not listen more than we speak?  Why not comfort more than we complain?  Why not rejoice more than we than we wallow? 

We need to push ourselves to unplug and connect – face to face.  The best memories are made when we are present with each other, not over Facebook, e-mail, or Twitter (although I have an account for all of those).  The strongest connections are made when we turn off the tv, put our phones down, and enjoy the time with the people we are with, otherwise, why are we with them?  Let’s stop checking to see if we have a text message from someone just to prove we are not alone, when in fact, we are not. 

This week, I challenge all of you to turn your phones off when you come home and have dinner with your family, spouse, significant other, or friend, to fast from things like Facebook and Twitter, and enjoy the simplicity of friendship and familial relations as they were intended to be…fully present.  It is a present you will not want to return.    

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