Field Notes From A Prayer Warrior

Why are cell phones so great at connecting us when we’re apart, yet so effective at disconnecting us when we’re together?

–journal entry, September 2022

…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith…

–Hebrews 12: 1-2

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

–Philippians 4:8

Have you ever met someone who, in conversation, looks you straight in the eye and makes you feel appreciated and seen and heard…like you’re the only one in the room?

This is not one of those stories.

I met with a friend the other day that I hadn’t seen in months…she was out of town, or I was, she was sick, the kids were sick, or I was, and finally, finally our schedules aligned, an open space to catch up…

Sort of…

Every minute or so, she’d pick up her phone…

Answer a text…

Scroll, scroll, scroll down her Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page…

Check scores of games…

Read something and laugh (and not share the joke)…

Basically, she was in a deep, on-going conversation with another friend, a digital one, and I was the interloper, the third wheel, occasionally recalled and acknowledged, but clearly not interesting or engaging enough to hold her focus. When we hugged good-bye, I said, with all the sincerity I could muster, how great it was to see her…

Inside, I was crushed…

And she was blissfully oblivious.

On the drive home, as I replayed the events of the afternoon, my disappointment morphed into indignation…

I hadn’t taken out my phone, not even ONCE! It was on silent, in my purse, the. entire. time! How could she?…these get-togethers are few and far between and precious…it was RUDE…it was INCONSIDERATE…did she even really care, about me, about us?!…

Fortunately, when I’m diving into the rabbit hole of resentment, there’s an alarm that goes off…

Beep…beep…BEEP!!!

Pray…pray…PRAY!!!!

NOW!!!!

So I jumped in…”Lord, I love this person. I don’t want to think ill of her. I don’t want to be bitter. I want to remember, ‘fix my eyes on,’ the moments we did connect, the laughs we had, things that we shared, little gems that went straight to my heart…”

I could feel myself softening, a smile lighting me up inside and out, and then…ever so gently…the Lord asked…

“Shelbo, when you’re having a conversation with Me…do you ever get distracted?”

Thunk!

My heart took a tumble.

Ugh.

“Oh, Lord, I am so sorry. Here I am, getting all self-righteous and judgy…when I have come before You so many times and BAM! in mid-prayer, I’m making a grocery list, or flipping through my “tasks of the day,” or, uff da!, watching a scene from a favorite movie in my head…no, no cell phone, but my mind is filling that role quite nicely, and here You are, Lord, waiting to hang out and chat a while, You’re looking forward to that special time…and I’m all over the place…

That must be so disappointing.

I mean, I know You can deal with it, and You’re going to be fine, because You’re the Creator and all…

But Your love for me is worthy of my respect and time and attention

Our relationship deserves better…

You deserve better…

*sigh*

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Lord. I love You!”

When one discovers one is distracted, one must simply refocus on the Lord. Return to the prayer. No need to beat oneself up…try and try again–calmly, quietly, and without drama.–Anthony Gallegos

Only He can take one of my rants…and turn it into a beautiful lesson…

The importance of focus…in love and friendship, in meetups and prayer…

To treat others…

and Him…

like the only one in the room.

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