I was just talking to a client the other day about our holiday. I was sharing that we couldn’t remember the last time we went on a holiday that was just that – a holiday. As far back as we go, virtually every holiday we went on had another purpose. Visiting family, here or in Ireland; Mission trips to various parts of the world; going to conferences and adding on a few days. My clients response was “is that possible?”, “you’ve got to write about that in your blog”.
We had the same revelation some time ago in the middle of dinner with close friends, that this was the first time in whenever we were catching up with these friends for no other purpose than to catch up! We realised that virtually every social interaction had a background purpose. It wasn’t awful or anything – it was good – it’s just that there was usually a reason. It might have been pastoral, or business, or about an event or an organisation we were involved with. It might have been networking, supporting through crisis (ours or theirs!), visiting someone who was unwell, a bible study, committee meetings. The list goes on. We don’t have children, but I can imagine for parents that would be a huge list of its own.
Don’t get me wrong, all of this is a wonderful part of living in community and it is rich and rewarding. But, boy it can get exhausting!
I still remember the amazing feeling of just being together at a great restaurant by the ocean. And it was making my spirit sing – the pleasure and enjoyment of just hanging out together and sharing and listening. We came away from that dinner refreshed, energised and closer.
It is one of the wonderful paradoxes of life – we are born for relationship and connection. And in our lives we are interacting with people all the time and I wonder are we spending more time ‘transacting’ than truly connecting. I wonder myself are my relationships deepening over time? Am I taking time to truly listen with my heart as well as my ears? Do I truly know where my closest friends are at? Do I take time to listen past the “I’m fine” or “Not bad”?. My answer for me is I can do a lot better.
So my moment of clarity this week is to make a date. Time IS precious, and there is so much to do, but I encourage you to make a date – with a spouse, your family or friends for no other purpose than to spend time together. I think you will be so glad you did.
All the Best, Brian