After the Clearness Is Gone
Hello, friends. How are you? How are you, really? We don’t answer that question honestly. We reply, “Good! And you?” and the response, more often than not is, “Good!” Except good could be better and it often signifies worse. When is the last time you asked, “How are you?” and someone replied, “I’m struggling. Life is hard.” And you stopped, touched their shoulder or — gasp! — gave them a hug, and sincerely answered, “Oh, you poor thing. How can I help?”
We must stop the fervor.
We must slow our pace, look people in the face when they speak to us, and listen.
The horrible, awful, no good, very bad thing about us is that we’ve taken to living our lives on social media. We frequent a thing called Facebook and call it friendship. We pay lip service or insults, argue and flaunt and the only faces involved are in-your-face streams of insults, political correctness and sanction.
We’ve lost our sincerity. We’ve lost our intentional loving of friends and neighbors.
We wish someone a happy birthday or tap out our sympathies, then walk along on our merry way. We leave the delivery of our halfhearted concern to Facebook’s mysterious algorithms or Twitter or Instagram or some other platform’s unintelligible hashtags, emoticons or 140-character phrases. Our children think it odd when we suggest they call a friend! Why go to the trouble of hearing their voice when they can message in moments! Write a letter? That must be what they did in the pioneer days.
We’ve made time an idol, and everyone suffers because of it.
We don’t enjoy our moments. We’re not thankful for the minutes stretched out before us. We overlook the people and passions and pursuits in our midst because we bury life in a box with a glowing screen.
I’m guilty. My work involves that glowing screen. My hobby involves a glowing screen. We can’t cut it out entirely — though we can dream of life in the woods without wi-fi — but we can be intentional. We can intentionally greet others with empathy when we encounter them throughout our day. We can create meaningful situations with the people in our midst. We can put life first, and use the rest of our time wisely. We can frequent the Internet, apps and social media … with a limit. We need an attitude adjustment. Priorities. Because if we don’t change our ways, the younger generations will never, ever know what it’s like to look someone in the eye and mean what they say. Imagine how awful THAT would be. In Psalm 31, David proclaims:
Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
People are crying for help around us. Maybe you are crying for help in a witty way on a glowing screen where no one is interested in really listening. We need to grab onto our friendships and faith in God with both hands. We need to cling to the gifts in our midst instead of paying them lip service on the world wide web. Our families and friends are the most important treasures we have on earth. We tell our friends and followers, but when is the last time we told our families and real-life friends … with spoken words and body language?
Can we return to a time of wisdom, when we were able to decipher a weary gaze or catch the sparkle in an eye? Oh, I hope so! But we must act now, before it’s too late. Before we’re sucked into those glowing screens for the rest of our time on earth. I sort of imagine it would feel like David felt in Psalm 31. He’s anguished … willing to turn over everything for deliverance and peace.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak …
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
Let’s put our time in God’s hands for the benefit of those around us, and stop wasting what little time we have on pointless nonsense. Share some inspiration, find a tip or recipe, read or create a story of hope online. Then return to the land of the living and gaze deeply into someone’s eyes. Live.