Today’s blog is written by another best friend of mine, Tyler Chernesky. He helps pastor a church in Kansas City, and his insights on friendship are so important especially in a distracted age.
When I was in college, I discovered the captivating German board game Settlers of Catan.
My friend and roommate, Wes, introduced it to our house. Soon, we were hooked.
We’d play together late into the night. Rivalries developed. Tensions flared. And it was a blast.
Then, one day, we discovered that Catan had an online world – PlayCatan.com – where you could play Settlers anytime, anywhere with strangers from all around the world.
No longer did we have to wait until all the roomies were home to get started.
No longer did we have to clear the table and bust out the board.
Now, we could play catan online.
The truth is: it wasn’t long until I became an addict. I logged on to PlayCatan as soon as I woke up and didn’t quit until bedtime. I was on it all the time.
I played Catan while my roommates shared stories about their days.
I played Catan when I was back at home, visiting my parents.
Wherever I was, I played Catan.
And, one of my little habits during those days was to take a screenshot as soon as a Catan game ended – to celebrate a victory or to document a loss.
One morning, I looked in the folder where I stored these screenshots, and I realized that I had over 750 screenshots of completed Catan games.
And it was then that it hit me.
I’d allowed myself to get so wrapped up in this online world that I was missing the life that was happening all around me.
I was giving my roommates, my parents, and my classes only partial attention. I was settling for online diversion when I had real life people to my left and to my right. I had allowed something insignificant to keep me from what matters most.
Have you ever been there?
Have you ever been so caught up in something trivial, in something addictive, in something that starts satisfying but becomes an all-consuming habit?
Have you ever been distracted?
The answer, if you’re honest, is: Yes, I’ve been distracted.
And that’s okay! Distraction is a human phenomena. Distraction happens.
And it’s happening with greater and greater frequency in our increasingly busy and connected world.
The problem is: Distraction destroys depth. It keeps us so busy skimming the surface, that we never take the time or effort dive down for more.
And distraction destroys friendships in two key ways: 1) Distraction can keep us from good friendship, and 2) Distraction can make us stale in friendships.
Distractions can keep us from taking time and making effort to cultivate soul-enriching relationships. And distraction can plague relationships we already have – focusing our attention on topics of conversation, and cultivating habits of interpersonal relation that ultimately lead to shallow connection.
So how do you combat distraction?
Here’s what I’ve learned: It starts with rest.
Unplug. Stop. Breathe. Sit. Listen – to your own heart, and to God.
Where do you need to slow down? Where do you need to dive in?
What habits of behavior or habits of conversation are keeping you from intimate relationship?
What relational connections are you missing because you’re too wrapped up in things that do not matter? What friendships need revitalized ways of relating?
Distraction makes us miss what matters most.
As you think about your life and friendships during these 31 Days for Friendship, what destructive distractions need to be minimized so that the goodness of friendship can grow?