And, like many things, this starts in our own families.
Of course, that's easier said than done, especially now that families tend to be farther apart geographically. I have relatives from Pennsylvania to Colorado to Tennessee. Connecting with far-flung family is a tricky thing, and if you're not intentional about it, can easily get pushed to the back recesses of your mind.
I'm a forgetful type of person. I never remember that we have extra shoelaces in the drawer in the back bedroom. And now we have lots of extra shoelaces in the back bedroom, because I never remember and always buy more.
That forgetfulness extends to relationships, unfortunately. If I don't have someone right in front of me, I don't remember to connect with them. Thankfully, I've been blessed with a few dear friends who know that if I don't call, it's not because I don't care- it's just because I forgot.
But just because that's the way I am doesn't mean that's the way I'll always be. Putting on a new self and all. It just takes some work, some prayer, and some grace.
With family far away, I have to be very intentional in order to maintain relationships. So, as silly as it seems, I schedule it. I actually write down, on my calendar, when I'll be making phone calls, and to whom.
|Connect with your roots! (Terrible pun, but just go with it.)|
And if you're not sure about what to talk about?
I'll be honest, I run into dry spells in conversation, too, especially with my grandparents. I don't really have a very interesting life, and hearing about Bingo again isn't necessarily relationship-building. Don't get me wrong, just making time for one another matters quite a bit, and the Bingo stories can be pretty funny.
Sometimes I plan "I was just thinking" calls- when I call and ask a question. Usually with my grandma, I ask about a recipe. My aunt is a dental hygienist and a great shopper, so I ask her about gift ideas or any tooth-related questions. You get the idea.
Generally, when I call to ask a question, the conversation shifts into something more. If I call to ask about a casserole that freezes well, my grandma may tell me about when she made a particular recipe for a cousin of mine when she had a baby... and then we're talking about caring for those in need, the struggles of raising newborns, and how that cousin's baby is now in Kindergarten and lost a tooth the other day.
Creating community is important, but it's also vital for us to nurture the community we already have!