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Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to Go Deep With the People Around You

 This is the season we've been waiting for.

The season that we've looked forward to since we were children. The nights that we can stay up late, the nights that we can drink cocktails and jet of to whirlwind-far places. The time to live in wide-eyed wonder and freedom.

But here's what happens – at least from what I can tell in my limited experience in adulthood – finding and experiencing true freedom in this season: freedom from stress, job pressure, five-year plans, career goals, career frustrations, schedules, all of it is at best, manageable.

And at its worst? Nearly impossible.

Let me state on the record: I do not have a hard life. I don't have any kids to wrangle, just a few dreams and ideas I have to chase and keep at bay. I have a home, means to pay for things that I need (and what I want). When I need a time-out, I can take it. My husband holds me in his arms and I feel safe and secure. In a lot of ways.

I have a lot of freedoms as an American woman living in this century.

And I need to remember that.

But what I'm beginning to see is how the jobs, the budgets, the hunting for side gigs, the achieving, the mixing, the chaotic fray of working through life is such a distracting. Such a hindrance to freedom.

I'm beginning to see how narrow the road is to heaven. I'm beginning to see how I have a camel-through-the-eye-of-the-needle sort of life.

I'm beginning to see how this life, this wonderful, wholesome, American-dream life is, in spite of all its blessings, brings a colossal hindrance to true community. To really growing relationships with the people around you.

I met one of my favorite people from the internet a few weeks ago.

She is the co-host of a podcast I've grown to adore. And she was just as beautiful and vivacious as I expected her to be. She's the sort of person who travels. A lot.

She just happened to be in the area where I live for a spell, so, as you do when you have the chance to meet someone you truly admire, I invited her for cocktails with a few of my friends. She said yes, and we were thrilled (even if it was only because we offered to buy her a drink).

Our drinks turned to dinner, and dinner turned into shared desserts and dragging our waiter outside to get the perfect Instagram photo together. But, the night stands out to me because our conversation was so rich.

She went deep. Fast. And made me feel like a lazy conversationalist.

Which is fine if you don't have a master's in journalism, and haven't been trained to ask the right, open-ended questions. But, I do. I have. And when I found myself talking about marriage, my dreams, my past, with a one-way stranger, it was a big wake-up call.

I'd been so distracted by the achieving, the dreaming, the doing, the budgeting, the car repairs, dental work, grocery shopping, bills, that I'd forgotten that this life is meant to be enjoyed.

Not only that, but this life is meant to serve and care for others. And one 

of the most important things we can do for our friends is simply listen.

I've been walking through the conversations in my day-to-day like someone who texts and drives. Only really halfway paying attention to something really important.

I've been holding back. I've been fearful. I've been unwilling to go deep because it's time-consuming. Even a little scary. Or it doesn't match my brand. Or I can't make money from it. In a word, selfish.

This person showed me what freedom in Christ truly looks like. She showed me what it's like to have that wonder of the season. The season we've all wished for our whole lives.

The freedom to let go of your distractions, and your moments. 

Maybe not all the way – we're not perfect.

But perhaps enough to go deep with the people you break bread and clink cocktail glasses with.


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