This is going to be a shorter one.
Beautiful things that happened today:
I woke up.
A student I’ve just started mentoring trusted me by opening up and sharing freely, even though I haven’t earned that trust yet.
Our soccer team played really hard and showed themselves what they are capable of doing.
A taxi driver was kind to me. He scared me when he picked me up: Once I get in and we start driving, I always begin the conversation with “¿Cómo está usted?” and his first response was to shake his head, put his hand to his throat, and then give the international sign for drinking. But he did not act drunk (I’ve had that experience at least twice) and we had a friendly conversation. He overcharged me, but I was in a hurry (see above) and decided not to care today.
My wife let me sleep an extra half an hour this morning by not waking me and making breakfast when it was my turn.
My son showed me proudly how well he did on his math worksheet.
My children laughed at my joke.
Now I’m tired and I’m hoarse and up too late again (after falling asleep while getting my son to bed) and a man was killed by police in Tulsa on Friday and my dear college friend’s mom died last week and my friend’s wife died yesterday and I just read an article about internet addiction. http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/09/andrew-sullivan-technology-almost-killed-me.html *
I’m really grateful to use the internet because it allows me to stay connected with my friends and family who live in other countries. Last week I reconnected with a friend from my hometown who is struggling and wanted to talk because he’d seen what I write. Several days ago, another beloved college friend started supporting us and said, “Consider this my appreciation of your writing gifts as well.” Some people listen to my sermons who wouldn’t get to otherwise. I always hope to encourage people and this is another means to do so. One of my lifelong friends–the kind who stick long after living in proximity, and we’re still close many chapters later–just encouraged me that my preaching helps him. He’s been encouraging me for almost twenty years now.
In case you missed the cohesion, here comes my point: Life is short, and when it’s over and people are gone you can’t believe they’re just gone, but they really are. You won’t see them again on this side.
Time is precious and I don’t always spend mine well. I know the internet is both a gift and a danger to me personally. I’m thinking carefully about how to use it well, to offer my gifts, love others, and stay connected without getting consumed or missing my life. Too many times lately my son has said, “Dad? Dad?” because I’m looking at the screen while he’s talking to me.
One of the biggest dangers, to me, is getting consumed with the horror and ugliness and tragedy. I want to be informed. I want to speak up. I want to seek justice and, honestly, see my blind side where I’m not doing so. Reading and learning and understanding are important.
But I have to find the balance between knowing what’s going on and compulsively checking. I’m learning to keep out of political arguments that will bear no fruit and leave us even more polarized. My resolution to pray first instead of responding to political posts has gone well. I’m still making mistakes. I’m still figuring out the good of using this forum for discussion and the limits it has. I’m still trying to discipline myself not to read the comments!
I appreciate that you read what I write. I put a lot of time into it and I want never to waste your time. I want to be a voice for hope and grace. I do not want to add to the noise.**
I want to live my life in the real world, loving my wife and my children, mentoring the young adults who trust me, preaching and coaching and making really good jokes. I want to use the internet to love a few more people, to improve the reach of my love and mentoring, to listen to some music and get a few laughs.
Life is too short and precious and beautiful a gift to lose it to any addiction, including this one.
What beautiful things happened to you today?
*”Am I exaggerating? A small but detailed 2015 study of young adults found that participants were using their phones five hours a day, at 85 separate time. Most of these interactions were for less than 30 seconds, but they add up. Just as revealing: The users weren’t fully aware of how addicted they were. They thought they picked up their phones half as much as they actually did. But whether they were aware of it or not, a new technology had seized control of around one-third of these young adults’ waking hours.”
**Thank you, Switchfoot.
6 thoughts on “Beautiful Things”
Great blog Mike! Too often I put limits on my God give free will to the simple choice of sin or not to sin. It is much more than that, your description of the struggle to balance time, priorities and even being grateful in the midst of challenges are powerful examples of free will. Again, great blog!
Thanks, Dan. And you’re right, we should definitely think of this in terms of free will. It’s easy to look at our internet usage as something that “just happens,” instead of choices–ten or a hundred–we’re making every day.
Hi Mike – I too appreciate the words you share and the brief time I had to meet you and your lovely family in Nica while we lived there to adopt our son. Our family recently moved out of our house in transition for a new season of ministry in Peru…We are currently raising support and while I often see this as a negative, there are so many positives that have come from it. I have also reconnected and maintained connections with many friends. I received a message from a good friend who is inspired by our faith to raise support and she shared one of her prayer requests with me. That would not have happened otherwise, and it is reminding me to fight to maintain real, authentic relationships.
Thanks, Laura! I am excited for your transition to Peru and I’m also remembering what huge challenges these transitions are. Good to hear your experience of reconnecting, too. I would say that has been the best thing for me about being on social media. I hope you can continue to see what God is doing through raising support. Please keep us posted!
Very insightful, and well written, thank you for putting it into words. Life IS SHORT, and looking at it with a positive attitude helps those around us and ourselves.
Thanks! Someone taught me a lot about having a positive attitude.