Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pay Attention

Last week in our life group we were discussing a chapter in our book titled "Love Pays Attention." This quote really grabbed me:

"God's greatest commandment for building community is 'love one another.' A primary work of love is paying attention. It is such a valuable thing that we don't just give it-we pay it. It's like money."

I had never thought of it that way. When I talk to someone and give them my attention, I am giving them something valuable. I guess it makes sense, because I always feel more valued when someone gives me their attention. But the book goes on to say more:

"One of the great miracles of life is that God pays attention to us. This is partly why the writers of Scripture speak so often of God's face. The great priestly blessing that God himself taught the people of Israel says: 'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.' (Num. 6:24-26)"

How humbling it is that the God of the universe, who probably has a lot on his mind, has the time to turn his face toward us and give us His attention.

I have really been convicted about this lately, and have started to make an effort to pay attention to those I care about the most. It really is difficult, when I have a lot of things swirling in my mind, to stop and look at one of my children as they tell me some tidbit that seems insignificant. The truth is, they probably don't even care that I know the information they are giving, but want to know that I care enough to pay attention. I don't always pass the test...

Last week, we watched the tv show "Supernanny." (I like to watch that show, because it makes me feel like I'm not the worst parent in the world). :) The nanny was at the home of Wendy Wilson, daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. She made a comment that stung me. She said that her father was "not present. Whether he was at home or away, he wasn't available." She went on to say how that relationship had affected her parenting and every other relationship in her life. I want to be present for my kids...

This morning before work, I was sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and watching Good Morning America. Anne was asking me some questions when she finally said, "Mark, will you pause the show. I'm trying to have a conversation with you before you leave for the day. I've asked you seven questions and the only answer I have received is 'I don't know.'" She was right. I hadn't turned my face, or even thought about her question enough to give her an answer. The truth was, she really didn't need to know any of the information in the questions she was asking, she was just trying to get my attention. By not paying attention, I was sending the message that I didn't value her. Ouch. I guess I've got a long way to go...but I hear that acceptance is the first step. :)

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