My new season of life has meant scaling back on a lot of things. You’ve probably noticed how limited my blogging has become in the past six months. Entering this phase of life has also seen cutbacks in almost every area of my time. Less coffee dates with girlfriends. Less volunteering. Less free time. Less saying “yes.”
But in my exhaustion, I think I ended up scaling back WAY too much. The first few months it makes sense to pull back when your main goal each day is to survive and maybe shower. But I’ve put a lot of my relationships on hold and I’m ready to jump back in.
Lesson learned: Facebook and Instagram are no real substitutes for actually being present in relationships.
There are definitely positives to be found in social media. I can connect and share with hundreds of friends and acquaintances at one time. I can literally watch my college roommate grow with her children in California. I can stay in the loop with my childhood Girl Scout troop. But there’s no real substitute for a phone call, snail mail, or in-person communication. I just skyped with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. I met her daughters and we laughed and reminisced for over an hour. It was so much better than writing “I miss you” notes on a social media wall.
I have a list of excuses a mile long for choosing ease and convenience over authentic and present:
“They didn’t send me a card last year, so I guess we are phasing that out.”
“I’m sure they are out to dinner with friends celebrating. I don’t want to interrupt.”
“A text is less intrusive.”
“I don’t think adding one more person will make the event that much more special.”
“They won’t even notice I’m not there.”
This weekend I flew to San Antonio to attend my cousin’s wedding. I was in the state for less than 24 hours. My husband stayed with the baby, we juggled schedules, and just decided I should go.
I love all of my cousins. That alone is incentive enough to attend a family wedding. And sure, Grant flew to Arizona to come to my wedding a few years ago. And also, he was in an accident three years ago that makes his very presence on this earth a miracle. Every indication pointed to making this wedding a priority.
I spent less than 5 minutes total conversing with Grant this weekend. There were lots of guests at the wedding and I know he would have understood if I couldn’t have attended, and yet every challenge to be there was worth it.
I am so glad I went.
**But trust me, this is not a bragging moment, because I deeply regret NOT going to several other life events for friends and family.
Sometimes I let the excuses win out, and that’s a shame. I’m trying to think of an instant when I regretted showing up. I honestly cannot think of a single instance.
My surprise 30th Birthday party was just about the best of all my birthdays. The thoughtfulness of my husband was evident. He kept an incredible surprise, planned the event, and ordered the food. The gifts, cookie cake, and even favorite restaurant didn’t touch my heart that evening, although they were all wonderful. My tears fell that evening when I looked at the wide array of friendships represented in the room. I was astonished that several knew no one but me and yet they still came. Their presence was a huge gift and meant more to me than any wrapped present on a table.
Loving well may take extra time and effort, but it is always well worth it. Loving well doesn’t have to be poetic, perfect, profound, or even alliterative. ;) Simply be there.
This week I hope we all take the time to show up.
Send the card.
Make the call.
Clear your afternoon.
Invite them to lunch.
Ask them into your mess.
You won’t regret it.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV)