We’ve all felt the crunch of time, especially when it comes to assessing our relationships. I recall numerous conversations with students about time/life/dating/money management. I remember an occasion where Joel* (name used to protect many students with whom I’ve had similar chats) asked me to meet for lunch in the student center.
We bumped into each other on the walk over and started normal small talk. His phone rang twice and he answered it instead of focusing on me and the conversation we had going. As he talked on the phone he walked faster and actually forgot about me as he moved on ahead. He got to the student center, tuned around to look for me, recognized he had walked hurriedly away from me and raised his shoulders sheepishly to say, “Oh, there you are!”
Once I caught up, we went into the food court area of the student center and surveyed our eating options. Joel appeared fidgety and distracted as we decided on our lunch selection and then waited for our chance to order behind seven other students in the food line. During the meal, Joel kept checking his watch and looking at his phone when it beeped, indicating an incoming text, email, or app update. He made two calls while we sat and ate, answered several text/email with a “This will just take a second, Mike,” and appeared to be making notes to himself on his phone.
He was sending signals not to worry about dessert when I looked at him and said, “Okay, Joel, now what is it you want to talk about?” He froze. I waited 20 seconds. No response. He moved back and forth in his seat. I asked, “What is the real reason you asked me to lunch?”
He shrugged and finally said, “I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything. I’m always rushing and behind, and always feel like I’m losing something. Plus, my roommate and I are snapping at each other and it’s a tense place to try to sleep and do work.” “How is your relationship with God?” I asked. Joel replied, “I’m further and further distant from Him, it seems…you know? I never seem to have time to pray, read Scripture, even go to church.”
Knowing Joel, I figured he hoped for a one-sentence solution, but I did not have one. What he had not mentioned (again), was his propensity for video gaming that he played for long hours. Even his roommate and small group Bible study leader confronted him on it as they saw how addicted he was and how it was affecting his whole life.
What I said shocked him. “When I leave, put your phone under a wheel of my car and wait for me to start the car and crush it. Let it be run over and do not replace it for a few weeks. You are a slave to what it represents.” He was not ready to follow through, so I offered to drive him back to his apartment. On the way, he listened while I spoke. “Joel, you have all the symptoms of a ‘hurry up’ life style. You are always doing 2-3 things, which is a definition of multi-tasking, but you’re ignoring the people closest to you, and that leads to a social barrier of loneliness. You have no instinct for social connection – look how you treated me at lunch – and little time for friendship maintenance, much less building anything substantial with anyone else.”
Live communally. Joel started to share life with a few guys. He applied Romans 12:10 to his weakened friendships with his parents, sibling, roommate, even God. So slow down. Build (or rebuild) some relational bridges. Walk slow. Talk slow. Eat slow. Give God, your friends, and your family some of yourself, and not just leftovers. You can escape from a hurry-up life.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz