Attenuated Attention: Relationships

“We have all been at a party and noticed new acquaintances scanning the room, looking for someone more interesting to converse with. Steven Levy says that we now live in ‘a never-ending cocktail party where you’re always looking over your virtual shoulder for a better conversation partner.’ We cannot build deep and lasting relationships if we turn away from others the moment they become boring, irritating, or challenging. Neither cocktail party practices nor television-viewing habits are helpful for growing in friendship, intimacy, and love.” (Boers, Living Into Focus, 88.)

There are many facets to the problem of attenuated attention; yet, especially within Christian circles this one manifests itself powerfully and dreadfully. The truth is as Arthur Boers says, real relationships that provide crucial sustenance and provoke personal growth occur not too far after most people give up on them. What makes a person a good friend is not that the person is interesting. The most satisfying relationships I’ve had have also been the most difficult; but they are the ones where the difficulty was born patiently and persevered.

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