Face to Face
by Kerry and Chris Shook
Practicing the Art of Being All There
The first art of relationships is often the hardest: you really have to be there with someone.
By “be there,” I mean really being with someone in mind, body, and spirit. The greatest gift you can give other people is your presence in their life. Offering your undivided attention to someone is hard, but it’s absolutely necessary if you truly want to experience a lasting love relationship.
The number one problem in relationships today is that they usually take place at arm’s length. We live in an age where it’s common to live hundreds or even thousands of miles away from family and friends, yet technology enables us to connect almost effortlessly.
It’s fun to post current pictures of the family or videos of the parade you and the kids went to this morning or the concert you and a friend attended last night. I’m grateful that technology enables us instantly to share the sights and sounds of our lives, but a quick e-mail or a picture shared on a Web page just isn’t the same as being there. And in some ways, our increased technological abilities work to keep us physically apart. When we can touch a friend electronically, we don’t feel as much need to touch them physically.
Our modern life and culture have led us to believe that relationships should come to us. We’re used to calls coming in, message notifications popping up on our iPhone, and e-mails materializing in our inbox. In many ways our relationships seem to arrive at our doorstep, so to speak, and we end up managing the people in our lives through keystrokes and mouse clicks.
As a result, we develop the expectation that relationships ought to be as convenient as answering a text message or tapping Call Back on a cell phone. Gradually we’re lulled into believing that creating and sustaining relationships should be easy.
I’ll be honest with you: lasting love relationships require work and effort. Rich, rewarding relationships marked by love and respect cannot be developed and strengthened at arm’s length.They require the commitment and tough work of finding ways to be there in person.
The Power of Being There
Why is physical presence important in relationships?
For one thing, just the effort it takes to show up in someone’s life speaks volumes. Imagine that you’re celebrating a birthday and one friend mails you a card, another drops off store-bought flowers, and another invites you to a special dinner and hands you a rare edition of a book you had talked about months ago. While you appreciate the kind thoughts of all your friends, you’ll always remember the thoughtfulness of the friend who gave you the book. He’s the one who invested thought and consideration as well as time and effort to make you feel special.
Likewise, our physical presence in someone’s life means a lot more than a text message, e-mail, or phone call. The cost of friendship shown in the act of being there tells a person they are important to you. Most communication takes place nonverbally through facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. So if you connect only by phone or e-mail, you’re missing out on your biggest opportunities for getting closer. Technology can be a great side dish, but the real meat of a relationship ultimately requires your physical presence. Never underestimate the power of a hand on the shoulder or a warm hug; physical touch is powerful.
Excerpted from One Month to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook. Copyright © 2010 by Kerry and Chris Shook. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.