By Sara Parker
A couple of weeks ago, I had a moment of sheer loneliness. E-mails were clogging my inbox. I was behind on my friends’ Facebook goings-on. I hadn’t spoken with my mom or any of my sisters for a couple of weeks. As I scrubbed gunk off of dishes before loading the dishwasher, I analyzed how I could possibly feel so lonely.
It was absurd, really. I see people all day long and have made lots of great friendships since moving here six years ago. I have a loving, very tight-knit family. But when had I last had a real conversation with any of these people? It had been since July that I had seen my family and spoken with them in person. And now I was at home, wrapped up in the busyness of life with four kiddos, and let’s be honest…I never answer the phone.
Part of a Bible verse came to mind…”Better a neighbor close by…” Of course, I couldn’t remember the verse, and I didn’t bother to look it up. Instead, I picked up the phone and called my mom. She wasn’t home. I called all three of my sisters. They weren’t home either. I called and left messages for three friends. Then I gave up, feeling just as lonely as before.
Does anyone answer the phone anymore? How many times do I hear a voice on the answering machine, but choose not to answer it? I’m in the middle of cooking or folding laundry, or reading to the kids, or whatever else seems too important to interrupt at the moment, so I tell myself I will return the call later. And I always do return the call later that day or early the next. But usually, the caller is not waiting on the other end of the phone line for my call back.
Later, when the house was finally quiet, I looked up that verse that had come to mind.
“Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you – better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.” –Proverbs 27:10
A strange verse to pop to mind, to be sure. But I liken the neighbor nearby to my telephone and the relative far away to Facebook and E-mail. So much closeness and genuineness is lost when all we do is send written words on to our friends and family to communicate with them. That same day, I made a new commitment to myself: Answer the Telephone.
Whenever possible. Even if I have to say, “I only have five minutes, but saw you calling and wanted to get a chance to say hello.” Try it this week.
Or, be bold and go a step further. Before you get on Facebook each day this week, make a phone call. Talk to a friend, someone in your family, anyone who comes to mind. I guarantee that someone really needs to hear your voice right about now. You may run out of time to get on Facebook after the phone call, but I doubt you’ll really care.