Recently, I tried to reschedule a dentist appointment. Every time I attempted to call, I got voicemail. I had to leave my name and number for them to call me back. Two days later they called back, but of course I wasn’t home. I returned the call…again…and got voicemail…again. It took nearly a week to reschedule the appointment. That seems ridiculously difficult to me.
I’ve also just taken on the role of coordinating volunteers one week a month for the children’s ministry at my church. Part of my communication with them must be email out of necessity, because the lessons get emailed as attachments. But, I know not everyone is great at checking their email, so I followed up with texts, too.
I never thought there would be too many ways to communicate, but it feels like that may have happened. I feel like I need an extra category in my contacts list that distinguishes the best method of getting in touch with that particular person. I’m woeful with texting, decent with email, and great with Facebook since there isn’t as much clutter to wade through. There are a few people who seem to despise all methods, and they are nearly impossible to make contact with. These days it feels like a monumental effort to figure out how people are best available.
I wonder how available I appear to people who need me. Am I hard to track down? Do I make my friends feel like I have time for them? Am I accessible, particularly to those who matter most? I cringe writing the questions, thinking about times I’ve dropped the ball, or simply found life too busy and overwhelming to give due attention to someone who could have used my help.
As an introvert, I hate the phone. In fact, I’ve had a smart phone for the last year and a half and I’ve absolutely hated it. In my opinion, there is nothing smart about it. Not because I don’t know who to use it, but it doesn’t work right and the extra features are just distracting. In fact, I went to the AT&T store to get a new phone yesterday and asked to be shown one for dumb people. My phone now makes and receives calls, and I have an actual keyboard for text messages. That’s pretty much it. So far, I love it.
There is another side to this, though. Lately, I’ve been reading in Luke, just a chapter a day. One of the nuggets that stood out to me was in regard to Jesus and his methods. He often intentionally made himself unavailable. He sometimes spent the whole night out somewhere praying. He withdrew from large crowds of needy people in order to rest and seek wisdom. I’m wondering if more of us should follow his example.
The “proper” amount of availability is a difficult line to walk. We can’t say yes to so much in our lives that we end up missing out on what is truly important. Yet, we also can’t withdraw so much that others see us as inaccessible and uncaring. I admire people who strike this balance well.
I’m going to ask myself some of these questions, and I would encourage you to do the same.
1) Do my friends feel like they can reach out to me if they need help?
2) Does my spouse feel like he/she is my priority?
3) Do my children feel like I truly hear them and that time with them matters? Do I give them my full attention when I’m with them?
4) How does my soul feel? Energized? Depleted? Stagnant?
5) Am I overly concerned with the needs of others to the detriment of those closest to me?
Along with so many other things, communication seems to get messier all of the time. Best wishes to you, myself included, on navigating through the maze of using your time wisely.
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