Hungry for Attention
People today are starved for attention—successful people, homeless people, big people—and little people. We all want relationships with those who have a caring ear, eyes that communicate compassion and understanding, hands that touch with meaning and gentleness, and a heart that lets us feel God’s love. But how often do we meet those kinds of people, whether in person or through books?
One of my characters met a woman who changed her life by the simple act of listening. This dear woman saw a hurting single mom and showed her God’s love.
In this world of distractions, do we give our full attention to others like Jesus did? Do we really pay attention, especially to our spouse and children, our family, and friends?
Giving others our attention is an active, intentional choice to care enough to push away all the other distractions—our agenda, the noise that fills the room, the obligations of the day, and the distractions that constantly compete for our attention.
To truly give our full attention to another, we have to focus, concentrate, and block out everything else. And in this world, that sure isn’t easy.
I doubt it was easy in Jesus day either. Jesus was a busy man. He was completing the greatest ministry of all time—in just three short years.
There were the constant crowds. The Romans. The Pharisees. The disciples. All potential distractions. But He chose to give His complete attention to those who really needed it. Jesus chose to give His full attention to each and every individual He was ministering to at the moment. Jesus gave His heart with abandon. Jesus cared.
There was Zaccheus, blind Bartimaeus, the woman at the well. There were the lepers, the lame, the crippled. And how about the woman who touched the hem of His garment? He could easily have passed by each one of these individuals, not even noticed them, not even cared. He could have chosen to not give them His attention. But He didn’t.
Attention-giving touches the deep need for intimacy, for the need to feel valued, for the need to be understood. We all have these needs—from the newborn baby to the elderly person in the nursing home, and we instinctively know if that attention is genuine or if it is fake—like the attention a car salesman gives us, the kind we all despise.
I must admit that I am too often like that salesman, not out of manipulation but simply out of exhaustion or distraction. It’s all too easy to hear but not listen, to see but not perceive, to touch but not heal, to respond but without true heartfelt love.
As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” Whether it’s your spouse who is sharing his or her heart with you, a toddler needing a hug, a preschooler frustrated with putting on his shoes, or a friend who’s had a tough day, giving each of these our full attention shows him or her that we really care.
How do you give your attention to others? I’d love to know.
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