Is It Really Only 18 Inches?
I have felt like lately I've been going through the motions in many of the relationships in my life. Nothing is wrong, nothing is bad, but my heart and my head just aren't connecting quite like they should be. I make the phone calls that I should make, I write the emails that I should write, I show up where I should show up, I take care of the people in my family that I should take care of, but the connection just isn't quite there. This is especially true of my friendships with people/family who live other places, but it can also hit pretty close to home.
We all get busy and have "stuff" going on, and it's easy to fall into our own groove and lose sight of what else and who else is out there. We have little people to take care of, we have errands to run, we have to do those things that just keep us busy. It takes effort to carve out time for a REAL conversation even with those closest in proximity to us. Our families, our neighbors, our friends...they are important, they deserve time, real time, intentional time, time where we are engaged and not distracted by the television or our iphones or a million thoughts of things that we need to get done running through our heads.
I have found that oftentimes I don't make the call or don't write the email or don't make the lunch or dinner date because I don't feel like I am going to be giving the person on the receiving end the attention and time that they deserve. And you know what? Oftentimes, that is true. BUT I am a big fan of the five minute conversation. When I KNOW I have five minutes to write an email or to make a phone call or to chat in the parking lot and let myself have those five minutes, I sometimes find that I actually DO have more time. By engaging with that other person, my focus shifts off of myself and onto that other person and some of the "to-do list items" lose priority.
It's hard to get out of our bubbles and out of our heads to realize how much more is going on around us. We get bogged down in our day to day activities and responsibilities that we lose sight of the people who got us where we are today; those people who have taken their time again and again to get us through whatever we may be going through or to encourage us or to laugh with us or to cry with us or to tell us to "get it together!".
PEOPLE are important. My to-do list is always going to be there. Sure there are things on that list that really do have to get done in a specific timeframe, but there are things on my list that can wait until tomorrow. They can usually wait a couple of days or even until next week. I am going to have a laundry pile waiting for me every morning whether I do it every day or not. I am going to have dirty dishes in the sink whether I clean the kitchen once a day, three times a day, or not at all. My family is going to be fed dinner in one fashion or another whether I cook or not. There are always going to be things that need to be taken care of...of course there are, but there are also people who need our attention.
Our children demand that attention. Our co-workers demand that attention. Those people are people that we have to communicate with everyday. But what about those that don't demand our attention but could really use it? What about our spouses? How many times have I sat on the couch next to my spouse and not said a word because we were both too exhausted? We see each other every day, but does that mean we're connected? What about our best friend? Yes, we talk and we text, but does that mean we're connected? What about our neighbors and our friends who live closeby? We see them at school drop off or driving down the street or at children's activities or in the grocery store, but does that mean we're connected? What about our friends who aren't as close in proximity? We have those five minute conversations, we send emails, we read emails, we text, but does that mean we're connected?
The ONLY way to stay connected is to give your TIME to those people. Think about your life and what's important to you. Chances are a clean house and a nice dinner and a well-manicured yard and watching television programs are not at the top of your list. Those are to-do list items, but not priority items. I'm not saying to just let those things go, but I am saying that maybe we do need to just LET go a little bit. What if we use that clean house to invite a friend over for coffee or to invite a friend from out of town to come spend the night with their family? What if we use that nice dinner and share it with our spouses over candlelight on a random Tuesday night rather than on the couch watching television? What if we use those well-manicured yards to invite our neighbors over for a cookout and a pick up game of football? What if we use that hour of time that we spend watching a show at night calling a friend or a loved one and having an uninterrupted conversation? What if we use that same hour of time to sit with our spouse and just talk and listen? THAT's when we get connected.
Those connections are what keep us going. They're what keep us laughing. They're what keep us from going crazy in our own little bubble of life. They're what remind us of who we are and of what's important. Making and keeping those connections should be THE things on our "to-do" lists.
I certainly do not have the answers of how to balance "life" with prioritizing people, but it has been on my heart lately. I have been convicted of the feeling that I am going through the motions a little too much. I know that I am missing things. I recently was anwering a Bible study question asking about our dreams and our wants. A big part of what I want is to help people on both a small and large scale. I want to shower people with love and with the feeling that they unique and important. That is truly the desire in my heart for all of my relationships. The problem is I need to find a way to connect my heart and my head a little bit more. What's the saying? "The longest distance in the world is the 18 inches from the head to the heart"?
Maybe you all can relate in some way to this quest for connectedness...on this quest to be the friend, the wife, the daughter, the sister, the neighbor, the "helper" that I long to be? I've got some changes to make that aren't going to be overnight, but hopefully there are some good changes on the horizon for me. So, here's my encouragement for today. I encourage you to call a friend who you haven't connected with in too long. Sit down for coffee at your house with a friend who you see all the time but who you haven't had a chance to really talk with in a while. Go visit a friend you haven't seen in a while this weekend. Invite a friend to come visit you this weekend. Share you Sunday dinner with neighbors or friends. Plan that girls trip that you've been talking about for five years but have yet to get on the calendar. You know it will be worth it. Spending quality time with those that we love is ALWAYS worth it.