Yesterday, we looked at connecting meaningfully with our children by reading to them for twenty minutes each day. Today, I’d like to explore how we can be more intentional about connecting with those outside of our immediate family. For those just joining us, this is part of our “Life’s Essential Ingredients” series. We have also covered Workouts and Worship, Homeschooling, Writing 500 Words Daily, Planning and Preparing Healthy Meals, and Establishing Cleaning Routines with Children. Let’s find out how connecting with those outside of our family is an essential ingredient to a fulfilling life.
8. Connect meaningfully with one person outside my family (either by phone, mail, email, or in person). I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook has become a poor substitute for real friendship. Having instant access to my friends’ goings on is not the same as being in direct relationship with them. The time I spend scrolling through my news feed easily adds up to the amount of time it would take to have a lengthy phone conversation, a coffee or park date (with the kids, of course), or to write letter of encouragement. This isn’t to say that Facebook is all bad, but this post is about intentionality in connecting with others.
A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a woman from our church. There was barely enough room in either the parking lot or the sanctuary to hold the those in attendance. As I listened to people share about the impact she had on their lives, I was struck by one common theme running through each story: she connected meaningfully with others.
Sue made a point of sending cards in the mail just to let women know she was thinking of and praying for them. She took time out of her day to meet up with women at the local coffee shops. She made meals, she listened, she encouraged, she hosted, she shared.
I remember her giving me the book Treasuring God in Our Traditions because it made her think of me, a mom of small children; I felt surprised and blessed. She also invited me to sit at her table for the Christmas Tea one year. She took time to both listen to me and share her life with me during her busy season of leading Women’s Ministry at our church. She was approachable and she was available.
The few interactions that we had made me feel like I was truly important to her. What amazed me at the funeral was how many other women felt the same way I did. How could one woman leave such an personal, indelible mark on so many others? Sue was faithful in the little things- those daily details- that, over time, added up to a beautiful collage of lives touched and changed.
I left that funeral inspired to live an intentional life- to make a point of connecting and encouraging the women around me in whatever big or small ways I could. As with some of the other things we’ve covered in this series, I have since been waylaid by life, by my self-imposed distractions, by sheer laziness, from following through with my good intentions. Starting Whispers of Worth is one way I hope to offer myself and encouragement to others, but even this is not a substitute for being directly involved in people’s lives.
1. Buying a $5 gift card to a friend’s favorite coffee shop, with an offer to watch the kids, so she can have a much-needed break.
2. Stopping by a friend’s house with a bouquet of flowers or fresh produce from the farmers market, or homemade bread or soup (don’t forget to bring a smile and a hug!) can brighten the most harried of days.
3. Jotting down an encouraging verse from a song or scripture or a funny line from a book on a pretty note card offers a welcome surprise in the pile of bills and junk mail.
4. A quick phone call (“I’ve only got a minute before I head out to [xyz], but I wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you. Is there anything I can pray for today?”) can be the answer to a friend’s desperate prayer. (I got this idea from the first chapter of the beautiful memoir Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life by Michele Cushatt.)
Just five minutes a day could make a world of difference in someone’s life.
Galatians 6:9 says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (NLT) The blessing comes from the act of giving. When we take our eyes off of our own needs and desires and look to do good in others’ lives by intentionally connecting with them, we find our own burdens lightened and our lives more buoyant.
What small thing can you do today to be a blessing in a friend or acquaintance’s life? Let’s skip the generic Facebook “likes” and be directly involved in someone’s life today. Be sure to share what you plan to do (or did) in the comments below:)