Tag Archives: listening

My Phone Is Smart But What About Me?

18 Jun

People with smart phones often come across as distracted. I see them in the elevator at work, in the lobby, walking down the street not paying attention to traffic. Eyes glued to a screen, squinting, often looking perplexed. It’s for this reason that I’ve avoided getting a smart phone for so long. In a culture that has us traveling at a break neck pace toward individualism instead of community, we can easily create our own little worlds with our favorite music, background, photos, apps, contacts, Facebook page, blog, and more. And in that attempt to connect us quicker with our favorite potential Amazon purchases, we lose a piece of ourselves. That is concerning.

And yet today, after years of postponing, I got a smart phone. I did it in a way that I’m proud of because I bought a used phone at a cheap price and I got a plan where I can get everything I need for less than I was paying for my dumb phone and still have no contract. It’s not an iPhone, but I’m using my new Windows phone as a training ground for now. And I feel good about my purchase. Except for my hesitation. What if I lose my awareness and become a drone hooked on the piece of metal and gorilla glass in my hand?

I just came off of a weekend where I spent a ton of time talking to people in face to face conversations in the car. We talked theology and played games. We told heartbreaking and heartwarming stories. We hiked the Grand Canyon and didn’t fall in. We discussed this hypothetical guy named Bob and wondered aloud about his soul in different scenarios.  I saw live elk and watched them eat leaves off of trees in our campsite for 30 minutes. And at no point when I took that self-induced break from my computer and phone did I feel like I was missing something more important than the moment I was in.

And that’s just it. As I embark on my new journey of having a smart phone and trying not to get obsessed with it, I want to remember to take time to step away. I re-learned yesterday in a moment of humility that God is so much bigger than I am. Than all of the little pieces I try to control. Bigger than the Grand Canyon. Bigger than the stars in the sky and our questions about aliens or angels. Bigger than our feeble attempts to control our little worlds. Even if we can do it in the context of our hand held computers, God is ultimately in control. And that is very comforting for someone like me who likes to pretend I am when I can make my background purple or download a panorama app to take amazing pictures.

So here’s to owning a smart phone but being smart about that ownership.

Here’s to taking time out to notice the little moments and continuing on my journey of awareness.

How Do I Love My Neighbors If I Don’t Even Know Their Names?

22 Nov

Note: I’m writing this after reading Kristin’s blog about how we’ll go far away to serve people we don’t even know but the people who live among us, we really have no clue about.

I have to admit something that I’m not proud of. I don’t know my neighbors. Considering I’m a follower of Jesus and Jesus said to love your neighbors, I find it embarrassing that I only know of Susan down the hall from that one time I was trapped in the laundry room with her when she was blocking the exit.

I live in a condo (apartment for me) and I don’t know very much about any of those who live amongst me. I find it sad. Sometimes I try to wave at people when I’m leaving. But is that really enough? I’m not trying to be hard on myself, just trying to figure out how I can spend months trying to go to the Czech Republic where I met amazing students and yet, I have no clue who lives next door to me. My mom went to the movies with one of her elderly neighbors the other day because that lady was lonely and having a hard time. I see people near the mailboxes sometimes but most of the time they are on the phone or I’m about to go back to my very important task of Facebook stalking so I’m too busy to concern myself with them.

This Thanksgiving I’m asking the question, “How do I love what’s right in front of me?” It’s so easy for me to get all excited about the possibility of loving people across the world. I talk to a few friends in the Czech Republic frequently. And, I have to admit I was totally jealous when my cousin who is a pediatrician, told me that she was going to Kenya in a few weeks on a medical mission! Oh how amazing that would be! Of course it would in my idealized mind. I’m sure it’s going to be hard. But when you go to Africa to serve others, it’s definitely seen as selfless. I’m guessing the harder work, and the work that I’m now being called to, is checking on my neighbors and actually forming relationships. It’s investing in my co-workers. It’s not being too tired to listen to a friend who really just needs my ear and not my well-worded answer about how she should do this or that.

I don’t have any easy answers. I’m just wondering, how do I tangibly love my neighbors more? What does that realistically look like? Is it a knock on the door? Is it more than a wave? Maybe I could just bake some cookies? Could being a neighbor really be that simple? I think it might take time to become a good neighbor. Maybe I should ask Mr. Rogers. Or you. What do you think it means to be a good neighbor? How do you love your neighbors?

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