The Dying Art of Truly Living

Originally published Wednesday, 08 February 2017.


I remember the first time I saw a cell phone. Actually, I’m not certain it was called a cell phone. It was an analog, portable phone. At the time, I worked for a small furniture store, and there was an analog phone in the delivery truck for drivers to use in case of emergencies. It was stored in a large leather bag and was approximately the size of a large briefcase. I’m not kidding. It was huge and heavy and awkward. Sometime later, my cousin got her first cell phone. It was large and had limited features compared to today’s standards. I didn’t even know she owned one. We were standing at a checkout counter at the grocery store when we both heard a strange noise for several minutes. Not knowing what it was, a customer behind us tapped my cousin on the shoulder and said, “Miss, I think your purse is ringing!”

Cell phones have come a long way over the last 20 years, as has all modern technology. We don’t have to wait until we are home to call a friend for a quick girl chat. We can do that in the car en route to our next destination. No longer do we access the internet with a 20-minute dialup process, hoping we get some use before being kicked offline. Cars are faster and practically drive themselves. Computers can now be carried in our purse.  Encyclopedias are something of the past, and we have access in a matter of moments to almost any facet on any topic we could ever want to know. We no longer lose touch with childhood friends, thanks to social media. The list of advances in the modern-day world that make our lives more convenient is endless. And I’m thankful for them all, as they have certainly enhanced my life and ministry.

But in an age where technology has given us access to almost anything within moments to make life easier, we have slowly stopped living. Have you eaten in a restaurant recently and took a look around the room? It is sad to see the number of patrons who are buried in their phones, endlessly scrolling status updates of others’ lives, completely ignoring the guest they dine with. Somehow, along the way, we’ve become so obsessed with having “followers” on social media that we stopped making friends.  We’ve become walking zombies, glued to our phones, and obsessed over perfecting the next update for others to read.

We don’t value the art of conversation, the joy of sun shining on our face on a beautiful spring day, or the freedom of skipping hand-in-hand with our children. Often, we can’t put down technology for fear we will miss something. Meanwhile, we miss life.  There’s always a new project – whether ministry or work or school-related. There’s always a task to be accomplished. We’ve lost a sense of self, the meaning of life, and the art of simply living. 

Living is about serving that homeless man a warm meal. It is looking a friend in the eye as they share their heart and soul. It is holding the hand of a loved one. It is enjoying a fresh breeze on your face while taking a walk around the neighborhood. It is laughing when your children laugh. The art of living is grace and joy and forgiveness, and tears. It is feeling and doing. It is resting. It is being fully present in the moment. It is knowing the depth of the love of a Heavenly Father that created you for His enjoyment. And the best way to honor that Father is by fully living, each day, in the glory of his honor and name.

And I’m on a mission to help you (and me) combat the dying art of living and begin to embrace life, living it to its fullest every day.  Here’s a short list to get started:

  1. Put down technology every day for a set amount of time.
  2. Fast from social media on a regular basis.
  3. Refuse to access social media when you are eating with friends or having a conversation with others.
  4. Schedule extended times of rest from technology.
  5. Establish strong boundaries for work, including the times you will take calls and answer emails.
  6. Make it a priority to get outside on a regular basis, leaving the phone indoors.
  7. Opt for board games or a book, instead of the tv or cell phone.
  8. Commit to having one real conversation every day with a friend, neighbor, family member, or stranger in the supermarket.
  9. Create a bucket list, as a family, and do it!
  10. Write a letter to 5 people who have greatly impacted your life and send it to them.

What others can you think of?

I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about living recently. Maybe it’s because I’m quickly broaching a milestone birthday. Maybe it’s because my parents, grandparents, and most of my aunts, uncles, and extended family are all deceased. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had more and more friends recently diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Whatever the reason, I’m thinking about it. And I hope I get you thinking about living.  But more than that, I hope I encourage you to live!

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

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