Multitasking vs. Being Present

Oct 21, 2019

Our attention today is liable to go in many different directions at once. Fear is omnipresent as the backdrop of our lives which we can ignore or we can face. One way to face it is to practice being present to God. To be present means to pull all the different components of who we are—body, mind, emotions and spirit—together into one focus, one awareness, regarding one thing, in this case, God. To be present means to entirely focus on the present moment, to be aware of all that is happening right now, to sense the presence of the Spirit of God right here and now. It also means that we can hear whatever He is saying to us, discern His thoughts and impressions He is giving us, differentiate them from our own thinking. It means to be in the fulness of what is happening right now. This is the major way that we love God with all of ourselves—heart, soul, mind and body.[1]


Being present to God is not the only value of presence in this world. If we are present to the people with us, we don’t miss the nuances, the subtext, of what they are telling us. We are engaged with them in our hearts, minds, souls and bodies, and we can see so much more about what they are saying and know who they are, whether it is in a business context or with family or friends. Our presence means that we are totally engaged with who/what is before us.


Contrast that to multitasking where we might be typing up something on a phone or computer, or talking to our spouse, but our minds are on a problem we need to solve or an insult we want to answer, an anger left over from some other situation, a fear that won’t leave us. How much do we miss when we are not fully engaged in our lives, in our conversations, even in the more intimate moments, like in our marriages? Or with our children? How can we help meet another’s needs when we are not really listening to the other person? Multitasking means another person on the phone or in the room with us gets only 10% to maybe 50% of our attention. And doesn’t the other know that we aren’t really with them? And don’t they take in the slight?


How much more affective we might be if we gave each task or person our full attention? Surely, our ability to tackle a problem or task would improve greatly. And our relationships at work or at home would benefit a lot. We would be totally present to the other. And wouldn’t they notice the difference when we are totally with them? Wouldn’t that so improve our intimate relationships?


Being present, in any case, means working in trust, at peace, knowing that what needs to be done will get done. It helps if we are in a relationship with God, because how else could we trust what we or anyone else is doing? The world is not built on trust, but relationships with God are. With a lot of trust in God we are free to focus on the present moment, knowing full well that He works with our agendas and to-do lists and needs as well as with His plans for us. With our faith anchored in Him, we are freed of so many burdens and cares, so that whatever work we are doing, whatever fun we are having, whatever duty we are obeying, we can be fully engaged with it, and carry the load easily. “My yoke is easy, my burden light,” Jesus said.[2] Life is much more delightful when we allow God to carry the main load.


Here is a prayer that could help us engage fully with God, with our lives:


God, cleanse me.
There is so much fear, so much fear.
I don’t learn because I don’t look.
I don’t look because I’m afraid.
I don’t see who people are, hear what they’re saying,
and hear what they’re not saying.
Something like scales cover my eyes.
I want to see.
I want to see myself, God.
I want to notice my fears so I can face them
and allow them to be healed.
Help me to believe in this,
to believe in myself, to believe in your grace.
Give me courage to look, and wisdom to see.
With the eyes of my heart enlightened,
may I go slow enough to see clearly, eyes open, all day;
to pray always: to listen without ceasing.
Open my eyes, Beloved, to see you here.

Open my eyes…
Open my ears …
Open my heart… [3]



Questions to ponder over the week: Am I present to anyone, to the beauty of creation, to my own state of being, to God? What would I have to give up or do to be present to my life and to God? Do I really trust that God will take care of me, meet my needs? Can I envision what that would be like? Will I pray for that ability?



Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are present to God throughout our days. May we be present to every person we meet. May we live in faith and trust.



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[1] Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27

[2] Matthew 11:28-30

[3] by Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes, daily email of 8.4.19

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