By Libbo Crosswhite
I have written the opening sentence for this month’s column four different times. I rolled my eyes at the red line under the word “column,” because you would think at age 29 I would be able to spell it without hesitation. If we are honest, most of us are far more comfortable in front of a screen or on paper than we ever are face to face. Why? Because of the backspace button.
We can edit, arrange, correct, reconfigure, take back things we didn’t mean to say, or rephrase to make us sound smarter or wittier. We can filter our pictures, we can cut out parts we don’t want the world to see, we can come up with clever captions to narrate our lives. When I taught 9th graders, I remember overhearing a conversation one time between two girls planning out their weekend. One detailed what she would wear, who she would be with and what her caption would be on Sunday when she posted her picture at 9 p.m. so that she could have the highest volume of likes on Instagram. I’m sorry, what? I can’t act too appalled because I think there is a part of all of us that can identify—looking for love, affirmation, and the feeling of worthiness in a very calculated way.
And that’s exactly why my new year’s resolution this year is different. Yes, I need to drink more water, wake up earlier, get all areas of my life together, spend less, exercise more—the list literally could go on and on. But I have finally decided that this year is going to be the year that I propose something that I just may be able to stick out for more than a week. Connection. I love a good irony and it’s not lost on me that in a society that is so unbelievably connected, we have completely lost the ability to connect with people.
I got slapped in the face with this reality a few weeks back while I was sitting in my chair mindlessly scrolling through my phone. Instragram. Done. Facebook. Done. Twitter. Done. Someone is mad, someone’s at Disney, someone shared a recipe. Same stories, different people. I heard this distant, “Mom! Mom!” Almost like it was in a tunnel, and then I realized it wasn’t a tunnel or distant, it was Mary Thomas and Russell right in my face, rocking my chair. “Stop looking at your phone and look at us! We’re your kids!” Nothing like being reprimanded by your 4-year-old and knowing she was right. I find myself being so disconnected sometimes. I spend a lot of my time observing other’s masterpieces and not enough on the one that’s right in front of me, in my kitchen writing on the kitchen table with a Sharpie.
I still have a lot to learn about Jesus, but one of the many things I love about Him is his ability to connect. So many times in Scripture we seem Him gathered around a table doing what so many of us love to do—eating a meal and experiencing life together.
One of my favorite stories occurs in Luke chapter 24 when the two villagers are walking to Emmaus. They encounter this “man” who just so happens to be Jesus. They don’t recognize him at first and invite Him to walk with them. They tell Him of all that has happened since the day of Christ’s crucifixion. They continue to talk with him and invite him to dinner. When they gathered around the table and Jesus broke the bread, Scripture tells us their eyes were opened. They realized who they were with. Can you imagine? They had spent all this time talking about Him and listening to Him but weren’t aware it was Him until they sat and ate with Him. They couldn’t really see Jesus until they were connected with him at the table.
It’s a beautiful image really. And I think it’s what we all need for our 2018. Being real and connected with Jesus and with each other. Inviting those that we haven’t seen in a long time and want to reconnect with to a meal instead of just scrolling through their latest vacation. Or inviting those that are hurting and broken instead of just reading their posts.
Technology has allowed us to stay connected with more people now than ever before in human history and I am not saying it’s all bad, but we cannot lose our ability to personally connect with other humans. We must allow our children to see what true connection looks like. That’s my New Years resolution—to gather around the table more as a family, as a church body, as human beings who share life together, to connect to my kids, my husband, my neighbors, and friends.
I want my kids to see what happens when the phones are put down and the mac and cheese is passed around. When conversations are had about who Jesus really is and what He looks like in our daily life- that’s when He begins to show up in our homes and at our table in more ways than we could ever imagine.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 3 years old and a son, Russell, who is 11/2 years old. She is the high-school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.