Thursday, January 10, 2013

a new year.

the time between my blogs keeps getting longer and longer....

I can't even begin to recap the time between now and my last post. I will just say that the holidays were wonderful, and I got to spend so much meaningful and amazing quality time with Ryan and my family. 
since it is January, most people are starting to make New Year's resolutions. I usually stay away from making any in January. Maybe it's the rebel in me that doesn't like to follow the crowd too much, but I have made my goals for the year and "vision" on my half birthday in August for the past few years. It's something special I get to do with just me, and it keeps me from losing my individuality at the beginning of the year.
with all that said, i have actually been thinking about what this year will be like for me. it seems like i have hit all the high points so far that a girl can hit in her 20's (besides having babies - no, stop thinking that. it's not happening right now). There's no wedding to plan, school to finish, or job to attain. I've done all that. I'm in the hum-drum, scheduled, routine life of a full-time working wife. There's not too much that's exciting or noteworthy about it.

So back to this year - what's my focus? 

Last year, there was a big focus on healthy living and activity. I am still planning on maintaining that focus and continuing my healthy choices there. But I'd like to focus on something a little more meaningful this year (especially since everybody will be trying to lose weight - that whole individuality thing again, remember?) 

So here's what I've decided and you can let me know what you think:

Genuine, authentic relationships with God and others. 

So there's the final product. Let me Tarantino this thing and give you the first part of this story. For the past few weeks, this has been on my mind. Maybe it was Christmas where all the family gets together or hanging out more with friends because ryan and I actually had time to spend with other people... whatever it was, it got my brain a'thinking (it doesn't take much). 

I want real relationships with other people... not just surface level, "Hi, how are ya?" relationships. Solid, authentic relationships, including my own with God. 

My brainstorming and critical thinking piqued just a few days ago when I got to go eat and have real conversation with a couple of my dear friends, whom i used to have the utmost honor of leading in our small group. I made a conscious decision to be engaged and sincere with these girls (they seriously mean more than words can say). What do you know? We had some amazing conversation. It was like food to the soul.

One small way I feel like I helped make those genuine conversations happen? -- i left my cell phone in my purse. I didn't need it on the table. No instagram picture or notification was worth my attention in that moment. I didn't need to keep up with anyone on twitter or check my email or sports score. My attention was set on on my friends and trying to be an open heart and listening ear to them.  

to me, that's a pretty small decision. But how many times have you gone to hang out with a group of people and spent time in the room with everyone looking at their own screen or the TV? I've been in that situation more times than I'd like to count. Is it too much to ask to keep the phone in your purse/pocket and make some eye contact and have a conversation? I think we're missing something nowadays.  

Side Note: Here is my rant about technology
I'm genuinely concerned about the upcoming generation as well as my own generation when it comes to technology. I remember growing up when we couldn't just look up a question we had on a phone or a computer. We were forced to ask someone who knew more than us, read a book, or to wrestle with the answer ourselves. There's something to that, I think. Lack of technology forced us into contact and connection with others.  

Now you may say, Oh carrie, technology INCREASES our connection with others. I'm able to talk to my grandma's sister's niece in Hawaii that I've never met before. 
Sure. Good point.
What about your next door neighbor? 
What about your brother who lives down the hall? 
What about all the people who you could be interacting with who you miss because you're walking with a screen in your face? 
What about actual, genuine connection?  

I also remember a time when we used to say, "I heard that you lost your grandfather last week," for example. We talked to each other back then; so we "heard" things. How many times a day do I hear, "I saw that ___________ happened." We leave our connections to others as a headline on our own "page" or as a blurb in a tweet. I bet I know more about my friends' lives because of what I've read on social media that actual conversations with them. How sad. 

I worry about these kids growing up with screens in their faces 24/7 from less than a month old. I remember when I went outside to play and used my imagination... I fought with my brother playing basketball, and we were forced to work it out on our own in the driveway. Now, kids can be on their own screens in the same room and never interact with their siblings. There's absolutely something necessary about interacting with others and what that teaches you about life, relationships, and yourself that's so important for healthy development.       

Not to mention the research. Here's where I get nerdy: research shows that the increase in social media and time spent using technology in this younger generation has a tremendous impact on development, mainly on the formation of empathy. 

Does that not grab anyone else's attention? Maybe it's my profession as a therapist that makes me think about this and cringe, but I can't imagine living in an entire generation of my peers not having the skill of empathy. I can already see the unhealthy effects in younger kids' social skills, confidence, and interactions with adults in general. It's scary! But empathy is extremely important, to say the least. These kids are getting dumbed down and hardened by too much technology. It's worth weighing if you've got kids. I know we've discussed how much it too much and what's appropriate for our future kids.  

With all of that said -- putting my phone away shouldn't be very hard to enhance my relationships with the people I'm attempting to connect with. 
  It is sometimes. 
Why is that?
 Is it just easier to text and message than to look someone in the eye and share something difficult? Maybe.
Is it more convenient to post a picture of a vacation than to invite family over to retell the memories?
Does it save time to only type something out once and know that most people you know will read it?
Makes sense. 

There are endless ways that technology makes relationships easier; I get that. For me, this year, though, will hopefully mark a change in the way I "do" relationships altogether. I hope to have more of these meaningful times where I get to share my struggles and victories with those close to me. 
Most of all, I hope to deepen my relationship with God this year. 

In many of my previous posts, I've shared how difficult connecting with God again has been for me given a lot of hurt and bitterness I've felt in the past few years.  You can go back and read those posts if you like because I won't go in much detail here... but back to my meaningful conversations earlier this week. I could share my whole heart with these girls that night. I felt safe and connected to them, and one of us ended up saying, "I'm scared to start connecting with God again. I really don't even know where to start." That turned into "I can't even remember the last time I opened up my Bible," and I felt authentic vulnerability and openness with other people. We shared our hurts and struggles and past memories that were extremely hard for us... but we did it together, looking each other in the eye and even crying at times. There's no value that can be placed on moments like that. It made me hungry for God's Word and brought me back to His grace and redemption in my own life.

It made me realize that God lives in relationships. Genuine, authentic relationships and conversations with others push me toward God, and time with God pushes me toward genuine, authentic relationships and conversations with others. What a beautiful cycle and balance that it. It's one I'd love to be in, and it's one I'm definitely working toward this year.

I hope if you're in my life you can help keep me accountable to this focus this year. Ask openly about how I'm doing with it, and I'll give you my word that I'll answer honestly and ask for encouragement if I'm struggling. I also hope to keep blogging semi-consistently (not just every 3 months) and give updates on my life and journey with this new focus this year. 
im thankful.
carrie anne  



Post a Comment