This summer, I often struggled with the central theme of the book of Ecclesiastes: vanity. As I began working summer jobs, dealing with personal finances, and preparing for college, I felt more deeply than ever before the meaninglessness and repetitiveness of life when my focus strays from Christ.
Yet even in my “desert” of a summer, there has been scatterings of refreshment. It seems that the Lord handpicked an assortment of customers, as unbelievable as characters straight out of a Dickens novel, to hammer home truths through humor.
Albert: Things Yet Unseen
Albert* is a regular. As such, Albert knows which times he can get tasty treats without having to wait in line. But don’t be fooled; Albert is still a stranger to the menu. Even when the patio is empty, he creates the illusion of rush hour by standing at the very edge of the parking lot and squinting at the list of flavors. After all, a menu he cannot read cannot limit his options!
Or so he believes, that is, until I remind him that we still do not serve French fries on Tuesdays!
Similarly, we can fall into the habit of “squinting” at God’s Word from a distance. We will listen to ten-minute sermons, dabble in various shallow devotionals, and maintain a safe distance from serious understanding. But ignoring the menu does not change it. We still suffer the consequences for sin, even if we avoid reading them.
Banana Split Lady: Splitting Attention
Taking Banana Split Lady’s order was always a bit of a challenge. She would walk up to my window, eyes glued to her smart phone, and ask politely for a flurry and a banana split. But as anyone who has ever visited an ice cream shop knows, that simply isn’t enough information.
“What size is the flurry? What type of candy do you want in it? Would you like soft serve or homemade ice cream? Just plain vanilla or something else? Sorbet? Ok, mango or mixed berry? Any toppings for you?”
Each time I asked her a question, Banana Split Lady would stare up into the heavens with bewilderment, respond to me abstractedly, then immediately resume scrolling through her phone.
The ordeal of coaxing the necessary information out of her was draining —and humiliating. Not once did Banana Split Lady make eye contact with me. I was invisible, a voice speaking from the clouds. It made me feel subhuman, not being allowed the dignity of a face to face interaction.
Gradually, I became accustomed to her distracted manner and learned not to take it personally. Then one day, the miraculous happened. Banana Split Lady walked up to my window, set her phone down on the counter, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “I would like a large cookie dough flurry and a homemade banana split with mango sorbet, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream, please.”
I admit with some embarrassment that this moment was the highlight of my day (ok, week).
Distraction is often fatal, both to drivers and to relationships. When we fail to give each other our full attention, we usurp the omnipresence of God and corrode the dignity of individuals made in His Image. True relationship means forsaking the illusion of multitasking. So this week, let’s not split our attention and the joy of friendship. Instead, let’s put down our devices for a moment, look each other in the face, and see the glory of God reflected therein.
*name changed to protect identity