I hopped on a flight home from the Midwest dressed in comfy clothes and ready to sleep the entire way. Little did I know I’d be making a friend on a flight that day who’d stick with me for all this time. We found out we happen to share the same beliefs and musical abilities (thanks to the Tim Keller book that got me talking). Christian and I spent the entire flight talking – yeah, four hours – bless his soul. Toward the end of our flight, he asked if we could stay in touch, and I was absolutely up for it. I pulled out my phone and asked for his Instagram handle, to which he quickly replies, “I don’t use any social media”. Shocked by this, I asked why and he said, “I didn’t like that every time I thought about a friend, I went to their social media account instead of calling and finding out.” — my eyes lit up. I had a feeling that this guy was true to his word, and well, three years later, we’re still intentionally here without trying to prove ourselves to each other. It is the most freeing thing.
In the three years of knowing him, we’ve probably had about five in-person conversations, a few back and forth texts, yet, we’ve learned so much about each other because we’ve made it a point to sit down when he flew home from Nashville. We’d dish out our stories, ask so many questions and laugh at the facts we’d find out about each other. After about two years of near-silence due to our busy lives, I recently received a random text from Christian. He moved back to LA, and I was grateful that I was his first phone call when he was back on the scene. We ventured through LA on a Sunday just before church, and dug deep with the questions after the passing years. “You’re a writer?! I had no clue you had a blog! Awwwwwww…” as he chuckles to himself. “Haha, yep, writing is sort of my thing” I sheepishly reply. It was nice to get back to the place of allowing myself to be discovered and not try to display as much as I could to be understood. We later would find that our family stories run similar too; who would’ve thought.
It’s really easy to assume we know someone because we keep tabs on each other via social media, but maybe it’s draining us of beautiful facets in this life called curiosity and discovery.
There is one thing we all desire as people; a God-given trait that is woven into the fabric of our being, and it is to be close. We desire friendship, companionship, and deep whole love. We long for a depth in a relationship, exposing all the nitty gritty of who we are and finding that the person who hears it will only show us grace. We are all mysteries wrapped in skin, beauty breaking through our humanity, wisdom through our chaos.
We all long to find each other, but we often forget how to.
Someone once told me, “Your relationships are only as deep as the questions you ask” I dare to add another thought to it; it’s also your willingness to be vulnerable to the person asking the question. In hopes that they are a trustworthy, intentional individual.
That will make you ponder for a bit, huh? Go grab some water and start reading again when you’re ready.
It’s easy to assume that friendship is forged or deepened because we know a lot about each other via social media. I’ve always tried to keep my life as an open book as much as I can. My goal has been and will always be to leave you encouraged and take you on this journey of learning (#sheiscaptivated). Still, I have been thinking about the beauty of mystery and discovery. In all of us, there are so many layers, and so many things that make us who we are; trials and triumphs, quirks and habits, events that have happened and events we’ve hoped to happen. From the things that light up our eyes to the things that cause us to weep.
There is a difference in being observed and being known. Oftentimes, people confuse the two. In a digital age, we expose what we want, we reach out to each other across the world, and we think we’re being known when, in fact, we’re being observed. Two must engage continually to deepen the roots of any relationship. Completely willing to be vulnerable and graceful.
“So what if I know thousands of people? Does that mean I can’t have those people for friends?” Not at all. You’re talking to a girl who talks to the world and does her best to manage those relationships. By a miracle, I have been able to maintain a lot, and sometimes the reality is giving more than receiving. I’m okay with it.
I work in social media, so I’m going to break it down in two terms as an illustration: Impression & engagement
Impression: the number of people who saw, who were affected by you.
Engagement: the people who interact with you.
In marketing it’s a really good stat to read how far your content reached, but the REAL stat is your engagement. It’s the part that really makes or breaks your legitimacy with your people.
In life, we will make an impression on a lot of people and it’s an amazing thought. Our paths will cross, and we’ll never forget each other. It takes two people to commit in order for more depth and that commitment is continuous (ask any married couple). I dare ask, who is actually engaging with you on the day to day in your real, imperfect, mundane and beautiful life? Who are you curious about and who is curious about you? Maybe that is where the true investment of your time and love should go. Everyone else, well, LOVE everyone else without condition! Leave a beautiful mark on the world, but don’t do it because you want something back from everyone. You can only handle so many deep relationships and maintain them for decades. Those people will find you and you them, so steward them for as long as you can.
PRACTICAL STEPS (some of these are a given):
- If you’re thinking about someone, call them or set up face-to-face time. Try not to open up social media.
- You don’t need to share all of your detailed life on social media — I mean, have fun, but stay balanced.
- Look at who makes the time to call you or see you — invest in those people.
- Be a friend, not an observer.
- If you meet someone ask for their phone number first instead of their social media — maybe then it’ll spark your curiosity before you go insta-stalk them.
I guess I want to remind us all that nothing beats an old fashioned phone call or visit to the people we love. Observing someone’s life on social media isn’t engaging with it. The context isn’t present and the brevity of their life couldn’t be expressed in years worth of images. I’m grateful for the friends who get away from their screens and make the effort to actually make contact. I’ve had friends drive/fly hundreds or thousands of miles just to dig deeper or take a minute to stop, sit and open up. We’re all a beautiful work, and I hope we take the time to think about who we want to know better (even if they’re a long-time friend already) and go for it.
Now, go live your real life with a break from the screen.