I Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (NIV)
I have a tendency to need to hear something repeatedly, in many different ways, before I “get it.” I think that is what has been happening lately. I think God has been trying to tell me something and finally I’m hearing Him. Let me explain…
It started a few months ago when my family jokingly started referring to me as an internet junkie. Every time we would come home from somewhere, they would silently count down in their head the amount of time it would take for me to jump on the computer and “check for work.” That was always my excuse, but I would inevitably end up scrolling through email, check my Facebook, etc. at the same time. “A few seconds” would turn into a half hour, and then I would be scrambling around trying to get things done or put our little one down for an over-needed nap…always playing catch up. I think you get the idea.
Then back in September, my daughter pleaded with me to give her 20 minutes of “us time” in the mornings before she left for school. Her dad and brother were already gone and it was just her, me, and her little brother. So…I started making a point to carve out that time for her. But…laziness settled in, routines got changed, and I would end up on the internet getting work downloaded, ready to start as soon as the bus left. Again, as above, I would end up checking emails or emailing friends, looking at Facebook, and all the time I had originally carved out for her would be gone.
I have also read quite a few blogs from other people talking about how they are making a point to use technology less and instead focus on their family; to not just be in the same room as, but mentally present, with their loved ones.
The last and probably most important message that came through loud and clear for me was a devotional I read on the internet this morning – yes, that’s right, on the internet. It was titled “Keep Your Eyes On The Prize.” Let me quote a little passage from that devotional that hit home with me: “What will really matter at the end of your life on earth? Will what you are giving attention to now still be important then? Or, will you be filled with regret for what you did — or didn’t do? Distractions abound, TV, phone calls, web sites, books, movies. It might be a good idea to stop and evaluate how you are investing your time.” (aDevotion.org).
Wow – Might I add that while I was reading that, my daughter was sitting on the floor nearby, sadly resigned to the fact that she was yet again not getting my attention during what was supposed to be “our special time.” Ouch!
Let’s just say that God let me glimpse a snapshot of what my family might look like a few weeks, months, or years from now. If I continue down the same path of putting technology (never intentionally, but doing so nevertheless) ahead of my family and their feelings, then I will be more “connected” to external things and less connected to the people who really matter in my life.
However, if I make a few small changes, I can have the best of both worlds. By putting technology in its place, the same as any other chore or task in my daily routine, I can stay tuned in to the needs of my family while still staying “connected on a healthier level” with the outside world. In addition, since checking my email and Facebook constantly was more habit than necessary (my job is not one that requires 24-hour surveillance), I think it will be fairly easy to make that change and keep technology within the healthy boundaries necessary. I also think that God will honor that decision and make the time I do spend on the internet more focused and less random. I find that when I choose to honor God by obeying his commands (loving and taking care of my family before outside enjoyment), He usually rewards me in ways that I never would have thought possible.
I can see a few rewards that could come out of this conscience decision. First, I hope that my family notices the change in me versus having to be told. That would be huge. Not necessary, but definitely rewarding. Another reward could be I will possibly be less stressed and more relaxed by checking only at certain times of the day and only in certain circumstances, but maybe, just maybe I can model to my kids the balance that is required of living a healthy lifestyle. The best reward, though, that I can think of is that my husband will know he has first priority in my life, humanely speaking. Lastly, when my kids think about memories with their mom, it will be of us connecting and not just me sitting at the computer. That is probably the best reward of all.
Feel free to check back with me occasionally to see how I’m doing in this area. Accountability is a great way to stay on track!
2 Replies to “Where’s My Focus?”
Agreed, the internet is not ALL bad though. (As long as it’s not eating into family time, or what you SHOULD be doing) Sometimes it was the only place I could go and communicate with another adult, when my kids were young. I could still just be ME, not Mommy or Wife. Feeling like a part of a community, can help women immensely.
When I first joined Facebook I was contacted by several ex-boyfriends, apologizing for how things went for us. We were able to honestly explain ourselves back and forth, and it was an incredibly healing experience! (and an unexpected perk to Facebook)
Also, a female friend from the past, that stole jewelry from my Mother while we were in Jr. high. (and was caught & jewelry was returned) She had a lifetime of guilt from that mistake, and now works closely with law enforcement helping others. She wrote to me on Facebook apologizing, I quickly forgave her and wished her well. (How long had she been carrying that? I barely remembered!)
I found that I lost track of time on the computer. So, I decided to NOT check email in the mornings. Too much to do with packing lunches, and gathering homework, and getting everyone dressed. I got sick of feeling angry at myself and rushing around, like a mad person. So, I adjusted my approach and behavior. (It’s MUCH better)
I think recognizing there is something amiss is a huge gift, so many folks would NOT be open to that message. (sadly) It is a very self-actualized person who can see somethings not working 100%, and make changes to address the issue. (Or, even ASK for help with ideas for change!) I applaud your efforts. I suggest you print out the quote that gave you the “Ah-ha” moment, and tape it up right near your computer.
I completely agree with you, Maureen. The internet can be a great tool or resource or even, as in your case, a great way to reconnect, forgive old hurts, put the past behind, and maintain or regain old friendships. The same has happened to me, similarly, via Facebook, regarding old friendships, something that would have never happened without Facebook.
I love your idea of putting that quote up by my computer. I have so many pictures the kids drew, motivational messages, or messages from my loved ones pasted there that putting that quote would be the perfect addition! Thank you for that idea.
I know that for me, especially since my bread and butter is done on the computer, when I hear that “ding” in my ear that I have new mail, I have to make a conscious effort not to check it right away. I need to finish what I’m doing and then schedule times to check, especially when my family is home and I can be spending quality time with them. Ialso want to make a conscious effort to use my time wisely during the day when they are gone because if I am successful at that, it means more time with them in the evenings or weekends.
I think it’s all about balance and I was definitely getting out of balance. What better way to stay in balance than knowing I have accountability. Whether with email/Facebook, exercise, or healthy eating, accountabilty is great.
Thank you so much for your insight. As always, it is appreciated and valued. You have the greatest ideas and I love how you share from personal experience and from your heart.