Albert and Myrtle Green recently celebrated their seventy-fifth wedding anniversary with a “honking parade” and a massive outpouring of love from their community. Although Albert can’t recall what first attracted him to his wife eighty years ago, when he was just thirteen years old, he does know one thing: their connection is as strong as ever.
When asked the key to their long-lasting marriage, their answers amounted to one consistent refrain: communication, communication, communication.
Their daughter, Alecia Green, learned many valuable lessons from watching her parents’ calm and collected approach to communication over the years. She said, “Communication is so huge and I think that’s where people often fall short because life is so fast and we just don’t take the time to communicate.”
Alone in a crowded house
This story struck me as unique, inspiring, and convicting.
I relate deeply to Alecia’s observation that people often fall short when it comes to communicating because life is so fast.
As a working mom of four children ranging in ages from five to fourteen, I live life in the fast lane. Most of my communication with my husband and children revolves around our family schedule and to-do lists. I often find myself in what I call “robot mode,” where I go days and days without real, authentic communication.
As a result, I can be surrounded by people but feel very alone.
Connection with others is a fundamental human need, and the only real method of connection is through authentic communication. Unfortunately, authentic communication is waning at an alarming rate.
We are living in an unprecedented paradox where social technology has enabled us to interact 24/7 with more people than ever before but studies show we are more disconnected than ever before. Add to that the coronavirus pandemic that is causing an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation and the problem is further perpetuated.
Are you fully present?
In Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport quotes MIT professor Sherry Turkle: “Face-to-face conversation is the most human—and humanizing—thing we do. Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.”
That’s the kind of authentic communication Albert and Myrtle have shared in a marriage lasting seventy-five years.
Maybe you, like me, are struggling to be fully present with those around you due to the busyness and distractions of a chaotic life. It is in the fully present moment that authentic communication occurs.
As my friend Jami Lee Gainey reminded me, this is best played out in our relationship with God. When was the last time you were fully present with him?
To be present, first seek God’s presence
Craig Denison, author of First15, writes that a growing relationship with God comes when you experience him daily. In Matthew 22:37–39, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Craig shares, “Nothing could be more important than living your life on the foundation of God’s greatest commandment: to love him. And while it’s incredibly important to spend your life loving God, he knows you will only be able to do so if you’ve encountered his love first.”
First John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” God’s love will be demonstrated in the way you love others. It is through the fully present moments with him that you will have the capacity, desire, and selflessness to be fully present with those in your life.
As Albert and Myrtle shared, communication is the key to success.
May you and I be spurred on to prioritize authentic communication with our heavenly Father so that we may then be fully present with those around us.
Then we may also be able to say that our connections are as strong as ever.