As someone who often encourages others to disconnect from their work and smartphones in order to rest and be present with God, their families, and their own souls, I have a confession. It is hard for me to take my own advice. Allow me to share a recent story that exposes my problem.
As I was walking along a favorite trail at Eagle Creek Park with my two year old son on a day off, my smartphone vibrated and I noticed a non-urgent work message come through. Instead of putting my phone back in my pocket, I considered the message for a few seconds and responded. Meanwhile, my son was enjoying retrieving and throwing rocks into a little stream along the trail, fully present in his surroundings. Several times I noticed him looking at me, observing what I was doing. The second time he did this, he grunted at me and kept picking up rocks and throwing them. His grunt was a message to me to put my phone down and be present with him. I did so, besides capturing the above photo! We really enjoyed the time together.
This experience has made me stop and think about what he is observing in me as a two year old, and what I am communicating to him when I lack presence. Is there anything more important than throwing rocks with my son on a beautiful day at Eagle Creek? The answer is an obvious "NO!" However, my actions communicate otherwise. I have somehow convinced myself that I need to carry and be attentive to my smartphone on a one hour hike with my son, when humanity until approximately the year 2000 has existed without said devices and walked in much more remote places than Eagle Creek.
This bad habit of mine is one that needs to be unlearned in order to practice my own soul care, resting and disconnecting from work. Being fully present without distraction is also an essential ingredient that cannot be left out of the recipe for healthy relationships with God, my wife, my son, and others. If we are so distracted and consumed from awareness of our own health, how will we be present with others? As I am convicted myself when I go on my weekly hike with my son to not carry or turn off my smartphone (even to capture great pictures), how are you convicted to practice full presence and attention?