I have many things to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come to you and talk face to face so we can be full of joy. ~ 2 John 12
I have come to identify myself as a writer. More than that, people now refer to me as a writer. I use words to express myself. I use words to soothe and heal myself. I live off of God’s Word and I grow by applying His Word in my daily life. Yet no amount of writing or being read brings as much joy and contentment in my relationships as speaking to someone face to face.
A pastor once asked me if I used my exuberance to manipulate people. A pretty jaded response to an open heart, but hey, it’s New York City. My response to him exposed my own growing cynicism. After a brief pause, I told him, “No, my joy is genuine when I meet people. It’s in getting to know them that I become disappointed.”
I’ve nursed many disappointments over the years. But as I sit here thinking about my most disappointing interactions with people or my most disappointing relationships, for that matter, I realize that they were all characterized by falseness and hiding. The acquaintances that never grew into friendships and the friendships that crashed in mid-flight are the ones where the other party didn’t see fit to be truthful about who they were or where they were in life or what they wanted from me and our relationship. These were also relationships where I either didn’t feel comfortable being who I am or I simply was not accepted as I am.
I seek to model Christ in all aspects of my life. This desire is a continual manifestation. As I seek to experience, learn and obtain the nature of God, the character of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I apply the results of my search to my physical life. In this area, as I seek God’s presence, and earnestly attempt to walk with Him while speaking to Him face to face as a friend, then I have to adjust my thoughts on friendship in the natural world. If, of all the gazillion elements of creation, God still seeks intimate one-on-one time with me (me, just me! – and just you!) then one-on-one time must be important. Look at 2 John verse 12 again. Talking face-to-face can fill both parties with joy.
I’ve experienced that.
In fact, I experience joy in many of my face-to-face conversations throughout any given day.
For this reason social media has become more and more disenchanting for me. An emoticon 🙂 is nothing like seeing the answering sparkle in a conversation partner’s eye. Or the crinkle of their smile as their laughter first comes upon them or as it recedes. The best online conversations have been with people who know me personally because they will weave their personal knowledge into the virtual interaction, “I can hear your laughter,” they would say, “…. I can picture you now… I know what you’re thinking….” Such active imagery in the absence of one’s physical presence is only possible after personal time has been shared in one another’s presence.
However, even the best-of-the-best online conversations are nothing compared to the most common of face-to-face conversations. It’s an amazing thing to sit in someone’s presence and know you have their full attention and they know they have your full attention in return. They don’t have to envision your smile or tell you they’re sending one – they can simply smile and you know immediately you’ve been gifted with something precious. When you’re sitting in front of someone, you don’t have to access a memory of their laughter – you have the option of giving them a reason to laugh, therefore blessing you with a musical chorus that’s just for you…only you.
My people will be destroyed because they have no knowledge. You have refused to learn, so I will refuse to let you be priests to me. ~ Hosea 4:6, NCV
Relationships are destroyed from lack of knowledge as well. People don’t take the time or make the effort to get to know each other anymore. They seek shallow intimacies and call everyone friend. What one person knows, all people know – yet no one truly knows anyone and everyone feels the need to hide their true selves. This cycle is easy to maintain with technology, but the strain of maintaining the mask cannot be kept up indefinitely in face-to-face interactions.
I’ve been lamenting the onslaught of technology since I learned to text a few years ago. Technology can indeed be the ruin of interpersonal relationships if people attempt to communicate only via technological devices or mediums. On the other hand, technology has the potential to enhance interpersonal relationships when it’s used as a tool to fill in the gaps that can’t be accessed any other way.
I don’t mean to harp on technology, however I do hope to pound in the importance of face-to-face communication. People have been placed in your life to be a reflection of God’s glory. That reflection may not be immediate or apparent; it may be something that needs a conversation to reveal itself. I can guarantee you that a “God bless you” received via text has a completely different feel than a “God bless you” that’s spoken in the ear in the midst of a warm embrace or handshake.
Be the blessing you are called to be and go bless someone with a face-to-face conversation so you both may be filled with joy.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT