Better In Person

 

Sue and I at Silver Creek Falls

 I sat across from Sue at one of my favorite places to eat breakfast – the meal I most enjoy sharing with a friend. Though a work day, Sue had the day off (mostly) and I enjoy a flexible work schedule. As the woman I work for had commented to me just that morning, it was great to be able to shift my work around for such things – a perk I know not everyone has. Still, I was deeply grateful for the gift of time with my friend as we had both been going through very hands-on lessons of how short life can be and we appreciated having each other there.

In the last two and a half years, I have lost four grandparents, a great-great aunt and a great-uncle who was very much a part of our family. Death has come intimately close. A month ago, I was also helping friends who are very much family cope with my two year-old niece’s frequent hospital stays to treat a newly-discovered heart condition. Just two weeks before my niece’s first hospital stay, Sue’s parents-in-law were involved in a head-on crash when another car crossed into their lane, likely due to the other driver suffering a stroke. Her mother-in-law, also named Sue, is also a friend of mine and is sunshine and love itself. Both her and her husband suffered grave injuries and I cried for those first few days until we knew Sue especially was going to pull through. My friend and her husband traveled for weeks between hospitals in two different cities while living in a third. Pretty soon after both parents were finally back at home, Sue was told her dad has cancer and is going through a dangerous surgery in a few days. (Please join us in praying for him.)  So there we sat looking at each other, knowing full well what a gift breakfast between two friends can be and how quickly we can lose those we love. Going through such times, you learn to take a different perspective on life, conflicts, and the petty squabbles and differences that can so plague our lives. We both knew it. We both share it. We’ve both had recent conflicts with people that upset us but we now look at those issues and shake our heads for we’ve seen what’s precious and taking time to engage in those conflicts is not it. Working things out with those we love is one thing, arguing over inconsequential issues never is.

What we told each other we do want to invest our time in, is love. While fully acknowledging we both have jobs and responsibilities, we talked about how we also have to make time to be with those we love no matter how busy we are. We have to make time for what is truly important or we will forever be chasing after busy nothings letting life dictate to us what we need to be doing instead of us deciding what to do with our lives. Sue told me the lists will always be there. There will always be more things to do, more work to complete. But the people who are important to us can be gone at any time. Each moment with them is a gift and it goes all too soon.

I look at those I love and am constantly in awe of how beautiful they are. It’s extraordinary – like lifting a flap, as pretty as it is, and seeing this breathtaking soul underneath. It amazes me every time and inside, I just fall to my knees in gratitude for getting to walk with them here. Every minute I get to spend with them is the best of my life. When I think of what I’m grateful for, it’s nearly all faces. No matter what else I have, it is absolutely incomparable with the worth of another person and getting to share love with them? Wow. I am so humbled by the friendships God has given me.

I know many of you while reading this will wonder how in the world I make time for people as, at least on Facebook, I always seem so busy. It’s not true. Yes, I have activities I go to for part of an evening, but you don’t see the other twenty-two hours of my day. There is always time for people. It’s one of my life rules. If my hobbies or my job interferes with my relationships, then it’s time for a change. No matter how busy I am, I strive to keep God and my friends as my #1 and #2 priorities. I may have to schedule out a little bit but even while juggling multiple jobs and hobbies, I know what is precious and those people come first.

And here is something also incredibly important: Facebook doesn’t count. It’s nice to keep up with people I normally wouldn’t see as they are acquaintances or those people who live in other parts of the country or the world. It takes more planning to visit them. By all means, like their posts and comment on their photos. But if that person is important to you, you need to pick up the phone and call them. Texting doesn’t count either. Arrange a time to see them face-to-face! Hold them in a hug. You have little to no idea what is really going on in their lives unless you sit down with them. I never posted about any one of my six family members dying. I only shared that with close friends in person. Don’t think because you’ve seen photos from their vacation or texted them hello that you are investing in the friendship. Relationships, just like plants, need time and attention to grow. In person.

We are heading into the time of year that most aggravates me as far as this topic is concerned. Culturally, this time of year has a special emphasis on spending time with those we value but we rarely actually do it. We are so busy doing things for people, we forget to be with people. I listen to friends say how they’ll have so much more time to get together this next month or next season, once “this” is over, but I hear you say this every month, every season, for every event. It will never happen – you will always have something more to do and will never have that time for those you love, friends especially since they are often left out, unless you choose it and make time for them. If you really value them, you will make time for them. It’s that simple.

To my friends who know me as more than a writer – I love you. I really hope you know it already. I hope I’ve had the courage to tell you out loud. I hope you can feel it when I’m with you and I hope you can feel it when I’m not for in my heart, I often think of you, hold your face in my hands, and wrap you in love. You are the best of my life.

Let’s get together soon and often, for I love you and love is always better in person.

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