Hey, Pay Attention To Me!

The Awesomeness That Is Me?

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(If you haven’t been to The Sacred Sandwich yet, go now! I’ll wait for you here.)

Craving Attention

When I was a toddler, or perhaps as old as 4, we visited some friends with a swimming pool. My Dad had been in the water with me for a while, and some of the older kids – teens or so – had taken turns with me as well. After a while everyone got out, with the grown-ups gathering near the grill as they cooked dinner. Me? I wandered back to the pool’s edge.

Then I stepped in.

Splash!

Down I went, but soon I felt myself being gripped and drawn back to the surface, and my Dad unceremoniously plopped me on the pool deck.

“What were you doing?” he asked.

“You guys were supposed to watch me.”

I know the dialog is accurate because my Dad has gotten a lot of mileage out of that story over the years.

***

Coolness was not one of my childhood attributes. Simply put, I wasn’t one of those kids in elementary school. So in fourth grade when I thought I might get to join in with the cool crowd, I jumped at the chance.

We were supposed to be working on a list of questions about something we’d been studying. The teacher wasn’t in the room at the time, and a few of the kids started doing a different list of questions: something about your likes and dislikes.

One boy asked, “What about getting the questions done?”

A girl said, “Let’s get Tim to do them.”

What I thought I heard, though, was “Let’s get Tim to answer these questions.”

So I set down the worksheet and walked over to the small group in the back of the room and waited for my turn. Eventually the boy who wondered about getting the work done said, “So are you already done with the questions, Tim?”

I told them I hadn’t even started. How could I, I thought, they haven’t asked me yet.

“Shouldn’t you get on it? The teacher will be back soon.”

It dawned on me. And so, rather than admit I thought they had invited me in – and still wanting to be part of their group even if not in the way I’d hoped – I said, “Yeah, it’ll just take me a minute.”

I hurried through the worksheet and gave them the answers.

***

I got into student government a bit later on. I even thought I might get elected senior class president, so I put my name in for the election. When it came time for the candidate speeches, my ambition to make it into the top post of the inner circle got the better of me.

I trashed my opponent.

Not badly, but I focused more on him than on my own qualifications. It didn’t go well.

Being Attended To

What is it about wanting attention? Even now when my introversion seems to grow stronger with each passing day, I still crave attention at times. It might be from the crowd (and Jesus had a lot to say about that type of attention-seeking in Matthew 6:1-18) or from individuals, but in either case it’s wrong if I am seeking approval from anyone but God. (Galatians 1:10.)

And yet God attends to us in ways that should satisfy us completely.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18.)

With our God whether asleep or awake: is there any better person to be with? The company of the coolest of the cool kids is insignificant in comparison. And on top of that, did you know that the original Hebrew of verse 17 could be translated:

How amazing are your thoughts concerning me! How vast is the sum of them!

Seriously? The sum of God’s thoughts about me are vast? Even if that is not the intended original meaning, the answer is yes. God is an infinite being and his thoughts on everything are without number.

The same psalmist, David, recognized how incredible it appears, that God would give us a thought:

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4.)

Yet God does care for us, he is mindful of us all.

So rather than have everyone to pay attention to me, I think it’s better that I pay attention to the One who is always attending to me, the One who thinks about me all the time.

That’s the attention to crave.

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24 Responses to Hey, Pay Attention To Me!

  1. Trillia N. says:

    Good stuff, Tim! God is infinitely better, isn’t he? Wow! If only my heart could remember that every minute.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks Trillia. I am so glad the Holy Spirit remembers this for me in those moments when I’m not mindful of God myself!

    • Adriana says:

      It’s hard not to pay attention to you,Trillia! You have one of the most radiant smiles I have ever seen! 😀 God has gifted you with a unique ability to communicate joy with your countenance. Thank you for using your smile and your words to glorify our Lord!

      • Tim says:

        Here’s a picture of me checking out my own smile in the mirror, Adriana!

        • Adriana says:

          Oh, Tim! 😀

        • Adriana says:

          Seriously though, I used to use a profile pic on Twitter that was introvertish. I was looking down at my newborn baby. Then one day I saw Trillia’s face and it was just glowing with JOY! I think we all need a person with a smile like hers in our lives! I asked my son to take a picture of me smiling for Twitter and FB. I guess I’m a copy-cat. But smiles ARE contagious — even on the web!

  2. Aimee Byrd says:

    Amen, I love that verse. Our posts compliment one another today, Tim 🙂

  3. Adriana says:

    “The sum of God’s thoughts about me are vast.” Wow. What an encouraging thought to ponder!
    This post made me think of similar childhood experiences I had. Thanks for sharing these memories and vital truths!

    P.S. “You guys were supposed to watch me.” — That sounds like something my 4th child would say — he’s almost 4. 🙂

  4. Bronwyn Lea says:

    What an amazing thought that God is more mindful of me than even I am. After all, he watches over us even while we sleep and thinks of us then. What a tender Father. Thank you for a beautiful and encouraging post.

    • Tim says:

      It’s hard for us to imagine anyone who thinks about us more than we do, but God really does and his thoughts about us are always good and right. I can’t say the same for my own thoughts about myself.

  5. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for this, Tim. When I meet someone who doesn’t assume everyone’s paying attention to him/her, I admire it. My husband is that kind of person. I appreciate your reminder that God’s attention to us never wavers and that His thoughts about us are infinite.

  6. marsdenmom says:

    I’m trudging through this right now, actually. My last post, statistically speaking, did astronomically well in comparison to anything else I’ve written. It was also my first attempt with a new style. Now I’m sitting in front of an empty screen, torn with how to proceed. “The crowd” obviously liked that post, so I’m tempted to produce similar, but is that me writing for approval or latching on to what’s effective? Thanks for this reminder that whatever I write, it’s for my biggest fan.

    • Tim says:

      Os Guinness wrote: “In working out our callings, we are to perform for one audience, the audience of One.”

      That said, it may very well be that your calling is to write in a style that reaches people in greater numbers than your original style. I think that as long as you do it all for the glory of God you avoid any risk of setting up your blog numbers as some sort of idol.

      The blog number thing can get awfully intoxicating sometimes, though, can’t it Aleah?

  7. Nick says:

    Really great word, Tim. Appropriate for blogger-types like me who want attention (slash oldest children…). Great application; it’ll stick with me.

  8. I love all the different stories you have shared. I really think it would be fun to just listen to you talk for hours about things haha. I am sorry to hear that you trashed your opponent so badly though. Have you ever apologized to them? Just an idea. I know that a lot of things said to me as a kid sticks with me even though it is covered by His blood. To hear an apology is always a blessing.

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