Too busy to read today’s article? No problem — listen to it here!
I rolled over to turn off my cell phone alarm and decided to hop online to find out what was going on in the world. I ended up checking email and scrolling through social media too, and before I knew it almost an hour had passed. My stomach rumbled, reminding me I hadn’t eaten breakfast so I got up and went downstairs to make coffee and toast.
When I was finished eating, I took a shower and got ready, then decided to check my work email before I read my Bible and devotional. After deleting the promotional emails and feeling like my inbox was more manageable, I hopped over to Instagram — again.
Finally, I came out of my digital daze and scolded myself for wasting most of my morning scrolling. But I knew there was a reason, and eventually when I took time to pray about it and quiet my heart to listen, I sensed I’d been trying to fill my need for real-life connections with a white screen and black alphabet keys. But my heart craved something no amount of digital interactions could fill.
That afternoon when my kids got home from school, I noticed how quickly they turned to their digital devices too, and it dawned on me that my children are dealing with the same struggles as I do.
As much as they love their screens, our kids need real-life connections and a sense of belonging that comes through relationships and spending time together. Even with their own distractions, that day I realized how much my children need my presence and my attention.
There were (and sometimes still are) times when we would be together as a family, but my mind would be somewhere else getting something done. I remember when my boys were not yet teens and we were playing a board game one Saturday night, I felt so proud of myself for leaving my phone in the kitchen. I felt like a great mom who was being fully present with my kids — until I got distracted.
Although my body was still in the living room, my mind had drifted off somewhere else, returning calls and texts in my head, making a grocery list, and thinking about all I could be getting done. I glanced at the clock across the room to see how many hours it would be before our boys’ bedtime when I could get started on my to-do list. As I looked back at the game, my younger son, Andrew, had turned his head to where all I could see was the silhouette of his face.
He looks so much older, I thought. It won’t be long before he starts counting the hours until I go to bed so he can text friends and stay up late playing video games. Lord, help me cherish and enjoy the gift of being with the ones I love while they’re still with me, I prayed silently.
Jesus knew His time on earth was limited, but He never seemed hurried or distracted. I never sense He saw people’s desire for His time as an interruption, but rather, He welcomed it as an invitation. He valued being with people over being productive.
Unlike Jesus, I tend to be a type-A, get-it-done kind of girl. Being instead of doing has always been hard for me. But I also know God wired me this way, so He’s the only One who can make me more like Him. My only hope is to take my struggles to Jesus and ask Him to help me manage the tension between desires and distractions.
When I spend time with God, He challenges me to slow down and enjoy being with my husband and children. He knows how important they are to me, and He also knows how easily I get tangled up in my tasks and to-do lists. He slows me down and gives me sweet reminders like my child’s silhouette. He also helps me come up with creative ways to stay present with my people when my high octane brain gets distracted.
- I look into their faces and remember what they used to look like. This helps me grasp how quickly time flies.
- I think back to what life was like without them. This makes me thankful God gave them to me.
- I imagine a day when they won’t be with me, the day they may live in another city with their own families. This makes me want to cry! But then I freeze-frame that moment so it will last longer.
- I sometimes imagine it’s the last time we will be together and focus on making it our best! Yes, sometimes I have to go to that extreme.
Jesus valued face-to-face connections and surrounded Himself with family and friends — spending time with people over meals, at weddings, fishing, and as they traveled together. Through His example, we see how important it is to satisfy our craving and our kids’ craving for connection by spending time together.
Lord, You created us with a longing for connection and a sense of belonging that comes when we are together. In a digital world, it’s easy to grow numb to our need for real-life relationships with screens pulling us away from what matters most to us and to You. Help me find the balance between being together and being productive. I need Your wisdom and creative ways to connect with my kids. Amen.
Gail Mattox says
I would like your new Bible materials. Empowered. I am a senior citizen and can’t afford to buy. I am wondering if I can get the materials.
Gail, I have preordered the first book for you as God has told me to do. I love following his nudges.
Please, for your own safety, never post personal information on a public site.
Renee Swope says
Thank you for sending Gail a book Donna! You are such a sweet sister in our community!
This touched my heart. Thank you for sharing.
Renee Swope says
I’m so glad to hear the Lord touched your heart through today’s post. xoxo
Leilani Christopherson says
This is exactly the message I needed to hear today. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m so thankful God is so full of grace and gentle when I fall into the distracted & busy mindset.
Renee Swope says
His grace is such a gift. And just like mercy, it’s new every morning. He never stops offering it and we will never stop needing it either. 🙂 I’m so glad today’s post encouraged your heart!
kim h says
Thank you so much for letting the Holy Spirit guide you in the writing of this. I’m sure you have touched more than just one woman with your words. I so needed to hear this. As a single mom working 3 jobs with two teenagers, it’s easy for me to unwind by plugging in instead of finding meaningful ways to connect. I want to be more intentional, and I appreciate knowing I’m not the only one.
Renee Swope says
Kim, you are definitely not alone!! There are so many times when I’ve been in the room with the people I love, but my mind is somewhere else checking emails, social media, or thinking about texts and calls I need to return. I know it’s extra challenging with teens because they can give off the perception that they don’t want to spend time together BUT they do. They want us to want to be with them and be interested in what they are into. It is something that will build a lifetime connection and so worth the time we give when they are still at home. (My boys are 24 and 27 so I see that now). And remember, you don’t have to be perfect or do it all. A little, on a consistent basis, goes a long way with our kids. Praying for you mama. xoxo
This was a really important reminder for us to be “present” with our friends and family. Thank you, Renee!
Renee Swope says
Irene, I’m so glad it encouraged you!!
Dawn Ferguson-Liitle says
Thank you for writing this it so good. I don’t have kids. Not brave enough to give birth. I have Nieces and Nephews. All I see them doing is looking at screens. Should it be a mobile or Xbox. Especially when of school looking at their Xboxes playing games or playing games on their mobile if old enough to have one. Texting looking up Facebook etc. It was as it is sad they crave so much of their time on theses things. So do their parents on their mobiles. I wouldn’t have Facebook about me. As it takes up far to of your time up. You go on it for nosey sake to see what this person or that person up to. Then it can tempt you gossip if you read something about someone on Facebook. God would not want you to do that. Like kids parents can use the Xbox or mobile no matter what kids do on it as a babysitter especially when of school. Or if out for a meal with the family. You see the mobiles come out just to look at it or play games while waiting on the meal to arrive. Even toddlers given parents phones to amuse them. They get they crave the connection of the toddlers things on them. All this very sad. I see it with my Niece’s and Nephews. Who are not babies now. But even when toddlers they craved it. Because their parents let them have it be on their Parents phones or iPads to keep them amused. It can become the babysitter. That sad. If parents let them on theses things for far to long. Especially when of school. They say as long as they are quite. As long as they are happy. It sad even toddlers don’t know anything outside theses things. I heard my Niece’s and Nephews before having a phone of their own. When out somewhere. Going Mum can I have your mobile. All they want to do is play games on them. That sad. As I believe when out somewhere even if out for a nice meal together. Even if child or Adult the mobiles all should be put away. Only be answered if the mobiles ring or an important text. You hear the bling type noise of the text look at it. If not important. Answer the text later when get home. Or text the person back to keep them happy. Out for a family meal text you when get home later. Parents if do let their kids play Xboxes or be in their mobile when of school or after the homework done. Limited the time they spend on them. Parents be a good example as well spend less time on mobiles to. Then they family all do something together as a family. Make memories when of school. But one thing I have learnt in my life to not let my mobile take over I would not ever have games on my mobile. I know Adults that are saved that have games on their mobile. They get addicted to them. They can take away from their time with God. That is wrong. I never had games on my mobile. As God told me Dawn. If it takes over your life. Do with out it. If have to have mobile for phoning people to let them know important things or text them. Or incase something important for an important reason they need you or you need them. That ok. But not let it take over your quite time with God in prayer and his word. We must put God first. Not or mobiles. Be a good example to our kids if have any. Kids to appreciate parents giving them a time limit when homework done on their mobile if have one and when of school if into Xboxes etc. Be a good example Parents limit their time on their mobile. Put the time into their kids. As kids will then remembered when big the time parents spent with them. Then kids will realise my Mum or Dad not stopping us having time on our mobile or Xboxes. Limiting the time for our good as kids. So they don’t take over their lives. They and Parents do something together as a family. This is Parents putting time into their kids and not saying no. Then the kids fell their parents being unkind. I believe this is what God would want. Love Dawn Ferguson-little xx
Renee Swope says
I agree Dawn, God loves when families spend time together!!
Brenda M. Russell says
This message is so close to my heart. My three daughters are lovely young ladies. I am so favored to know they understand the love of Christ. They are gainfully employed and I pray for God to promote them on their jobs and in their every day lives.
I suppose my mother and grandmother wanted the same outcome for me in my adult life. I see know that time is so precious. When will we learn the true value of time spent with our loved ones and dear friends. I know the Pandemic has taught us many lessons and I don’t need to know anymore about that.
I should have played more with my girls when they were tiny tots but I felt I had to cook, do laundry and tidy up before my husband got home to give me more things to do. Now I can encourage other young mothers to play and have fun with their tiny children, it’s worth it.
Jesus is an awesome Teacher, He teaches us by example. He took time to be with people no matter what day of the week it was when there was a need to be met. We can offer prayers for one another, smile at one another, share good news with one another and even bake cookies for one another. Life’s simple pleasures are the best. A walk in the park, a game of checkers for fun, listening to music together and having Bible Study together.
Memories help us think about our investments made for our futures.
Enjoy every day and be very thankful.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Brenda M. Russell
Renee Swope says
Thank you for your kind words Brenda. And thank you for sharing your perspective from the season of life you are in now. We all have things we wish we’d done more of. I wish I’d enjoyed the earlier seasons of motherhood more. Played more, cleaned the house less. Went on more family vacations and work trips. We can’t go back but we can make the most of where we are and do the things today we wish we’d done then. 🙂
Becky Keife says
Friend, I relate to this so much! Thank you for your honesty and this closing prayer. xoxo
Renee Swope says
Friend, we are similar peas in a pod. I’m so glad my post, and especially my prayer, encouraged your mama-heart!!
Beth Williams says
Society is all about plugging in, scrolling through social media, texting, etc. It seems we have to know the latest information about everyone. I see so many people with their heads down looking at cell phones all the time. Can’t even have a conversation with them. They are oblivious as to what is going on around them. While being productive & learning about people & life is good-it is more important to be present in the moment.
Back in the day most people had a front porch where they sat & talked with their neighbors. Now hardly anyone knows their neighbors. Life is becoming one big blur of pictures, videos & screenshots. No more having face to face conversations. That seems to be a lost art. It seems we value our cell phones & computer screens over being with people. Even Jesus took time out of His schedule to talk with people. If He being that busy could take time to be present then why can’t we? Please take time to be present with your family & friends before it’s to late.