How many moments are we wasting by not being fully present?
How many opportunities do we miss by wishing we were somewhere else?
How much of our life’s work do we neglect while we dream or long for something yet unrealized?
Toward the end of my stint as a ICU nurse, my only thought most days was when do I get to go home? I was completely burnt out- physically, emotionally, even spiritually unable to connect to my God given gift of compassion. All I wanted was to be home. Not at the hospital. Not in the midst of all the intense suffering, the raw grief, the pain that swirled endlessly around me. Please don’t misunderstand, I gave comprehensive, kind care to my patients daily, but my passion, my eagerness to save the world a patient at a time had long been lost in the soul stealing world of hospital nursing.
During that time, I was anywhere but the present. I lived for the day I could have an emotional sabbatical, for the four days off in a row. Anything to recharge, refresh, and renew myself. My excuse for living for the future was the difficulty of that particular season in my life; however I’ve noticed lately that my desire to live anywhere but the now is a habit not dependent on the current circumstances of our life.
We all, in some way, live for the future, for when we’ve accomplished this or earned this much money or attained this status in life. We all long for the next season, whether that’s marriage, the next promotion, babies, the next big deal, or retirement. We never stay in the “now” for long, as we run from appointment to meeting to social events, frantically adhering to our culture’s mentality that busyness measures self-worth. And in that rare moment of silence or free time, technology and social media eagerly jump in to fill the potentially quiet moment that’s a rare opportunity to process our own thoughts or communicate face to face with other human beings.
For Lent, I wanted to take steps to be more in the now. For me, this means no more social media. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter. A blog feature allows me to still update my Twitter and Facebook blog pages with new blog content without having to actually go to the site; and so with that taken care of, I have signed off. (Full disclosure — when our puppy comes home, there will probably be one introductory picture on social before Easter… 🙂 ).
This fast has been simmering for a while now as I mulled over how easily distracted I’ve become and how continuously distracted everyone seems around me. Social media also — as I have mentioned multiple times before, and wrote two posts about (part 1 & part 2 of my previous social media fast) — affects my emotions SO much. To a sobering extent really. Even though half of the articles, links, and pictures posted now on Facebook don’t even belong to my friends with all the advertising and promotion — what I see, read, and absorb affects me more than I truly comprehend until I’m irritable and constantly distracted from over stimulus.
So that’s why — no more. I desire more in my life than to look back and think about ALLLLL the time I wasted scrolling through news feeds and using my precious emotional energy to react to the drama of unknown individuals. Think about when you’re unplugged on vacation — everything seems sharper, more intense, more exciting, and more intiguing because you have a chance to soak it in.
That’s what I want my everyday life to be like.
A week or two ago, we had the opportunity to host a college friend as she drove through the area on her way up north. As we were catching up on life, we suddenly realized that her final destination intersected with some dear friends’ church plant. She hadn’t found a church yet and was hoping to find a community to plug into. We shared our friends’ church with her, and she put it on her list to visit. I had not seen this friend in years, and it seemed completely coincidental that she would be in our area; however, I love the thought that because our paths crossed again, she may be able to find a community quicker in her new home. This “coincidence” happened from being in the now — reconnecting with a friend face to face not on a screen.