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We look perfect on Instagram and Facebook, right? Perfect lighting. Perfect shots. Perfect smiles. Perfect framing. Then we put the phone down and day dream about how life could be or, more often than not, we don't put the phone down and miss the beautiful now moments. We all fall short in this area. The phone is just more entertaining. But phone's offer zero connection.

It takes real effort and work to talk to people these days. There's no "swipe" or "skip" option when it comes to a conversation. There's no turning off your read receipts. What you see, how you react or respond, and your facial expressions are all real, ineradicable. There's no back button, cut or paste option, delete button or space bar. It's 100% real, authentic, and genuine. And that's what scares us the most. We don't fear perfection, because that's the facade. We fear vulnerability, because that's what's behind the facade.

We don’t fear perfection, we fear vulnerability.
— Bethany Stephens

I am a fan of beautiful framing, modern design, and gorgeous smiles. But I can't trade a beautiful picture for a moment of connection. A picture is worth a thousand words, yes. But a memory of deep connection is priceless. Pictures fade and change over time with fashion. They get lost, burned, damaged, and torn. But a true, deep connection is like the roots of a tree. It goes down deep and doesn't fade over time. It grows further and further as you feed it until it's ready to sprout.

Furthering this along, this is something that hurts my heart a bit as well - everyone thinks they're an introvert because they'd rather be reclusive, instead of vulnerable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I don't think introverts exist. There are real introverts, I've met them, and they are some of my very best friends. I value introverted people very, very deeply, especially because they teach me to hold my tongue. There are such things as boundaries, but please don't use it as a facade. I'm not here to judge you - I'm here to tell you that you don't have to hide anymore. The world needs to know you. Your world needs to see your heart.

We're more interested in the picture, the meme, the joke, the status update, the video, or the updates, rather than the person in front of us. As much as it is a wonderful tool, social media is chipping away at our ability to remember and cherish the very details of our prized relationships, friendships, and family. We're much more apt to remember and discuss the harsh conversation, the heated theological debate, or the "I put them in the right place" conversation. But is any of this the heart of the Father? This is the cheesiest thing I'll say all day, but seriously, what would Jesus do on social media? There are no virtual tables to flip, but I think He'd be pretty hurt over the state of hateful remarks and comments from His own kin towards another.

Here are a couple of things I do my best to practice daily to help me connect with the one's I love (I'm not perfect, but I'm working on it).

1. Putting my phone down and out of sight.

Sometimes I leave my phone in my room for hours. I don't need it on my person at all times. I need to present the real me, not the next meme on my phone. Sometimes I turn it off. When I go to meet with someone, it goes in my bag. I want to talk to the person in front of me, not my phone to find out how many likes I have on Instagram. I mean, it's not like those likes are going to be put on my gravestone anyway, right? (RIP Bethany had the most likes in Instagram history. Lol. That's laughable.)

Put your phone away. For real. Love and cherish the person in front of you.

2. Write it all down.

I do journal. I write in my phone. On my computer. In my journal. Everywhere about everything and everyone. There isn't a day really when I don't write something down. I record my feelings and thoughts. Find the right outlet and write. Journal. Make something that your kids can hang on to and cherish. I mean, that's how the Bible was made. Because people wrote out accounts of the stories and lives around them. And now the entire world for hundreds of years has been reading it. Just because it doesn't help you right now, it doesn't mean that there isn't a benefit to it.

Get off your phone. Write, record, and journal your days.

3. Ask people to tell you their story.

Although I really do love talking about coffee and theology, I want to know the real person in front of me. The one that has lived life. I want to know what they've experienced. How they got here. How that affects where they're going. Their process and their journey. The scripture in Revelation says, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and word of their testimony." This is story telling! It's remembering what God has done in your life. It's telling the truth about where you've come from, even if you're not proud. And standing there bravely on the day you tell it declaring who you are and who you want to be. Listening to another's story helps you write your own. And writing your own story will help another person be brace enough to tell theirs.

It's not about you. Ask someone this week, at least once, what their story is and what was the most impactful thing that has happened in their life.