“I miss you”.
We hear this and say this more often than we realize. I can’t even count how many times I’ve texted this to someone. I tell myself that life if busy and this is just the season I’m in and it’ll slow down later and then I’ll have more time to connect with people.
Sometimes when we say “I miss you” we are actually letting ourselves off the hook. By sending someone a quick text we are letting them know that they crossed our mind, but too often it stops there. We let ourselves get by with the facade of connection by sending these three little seemingly kind words instead of actually being with someone.
At the beginning of the year, Kyle and I decided to make some changes for our family, one of which included attending a new church. Nothing happened, we still love our old church, we just really felt like it was something we needed to do. This change for our family also meant that we were leaving the convenience and comfort of the church community we had been a part of.
We no longer see the same people we love so dearly every week like we had for years before. We don’t have this weekly encounter, even if for five minutes, where we can look each other in the eye, chat about our days and hug.
To leave everything and everyone we’ve known and had been a literal weekly part of was scary. While I was absolutely sure in our decision, I felt this kind of loneliness in my need for connection. I could no longer rely on the convenience of a Sunday service to keep us connected.
I’d send a text to a friend letting them know I was thinking of them and I missed seeing them. They’d reply with the same and one of us would make a vague statement on how we should get together soon. More often than not, we didn’t get together. We’d both be busy and it just seemed like there weren’t enough hours in the week to take care of our responsibilities and make time for each other.
Once I realized the emptiness behind this statement I would get these same texts, but now it bugged me. I’d think I still live near you. There’s no reason to miss me. If you miss me then ask me to do something with you.
Then the real ugly truth I didn’t want to acknowledge suddenly hit me.
I was doing it too.
I had sent this message to people so often as if it was a checklist item. I would tell someone I missed them and feel better about myself for making the “effort to communicate”. What I was really doing was denying my responsibility in maintaining the relationships.
The truth is that we are designed for connection and we can’t always rely on convenience.
We have the beautiful opportunity to go a step further and actually make time for each other. Sometimes that means cooking dinner and inviting people into our homes to look each other in the eye, sit next to one another and actually be present. Sometimes that means meeting a friend for a walk or coffee. Sometimes that means scheduling a phone call after we put our kids to bed.
Our time and energy are limited resources and some relationships will inevitably fade with the changes of life, but some are worth maintaining. I still mess this up often, especially when it comes to initiating, but I’m learning what it looks like to put in the effort when you can’t rely on convenience.
If you’re struggling to stay connected to your people after a change, don’t be afraid to take the next step and actually make time for them. It’s trial and error, but it’s worth the work.