Connecting

It’s amazing what happens when the TV is off and the computers are closed and the phones are in another room.

In this last couple of weeks I have had several really great talks with 14 year old Nazareth.

And some infuriating ones, naturally, because we’re still us.

I love the person who is in there wrestling hormones, expectations, dreams, relationships, and navigating a world more complex than the one in which I was 14. I love that he is more capable than I give him credit for. I love his fears and I love the sweetness that makes it to the surface sometimes. I love the ways in which he is different.

Different has no value at 14.

At 14, ordinary is somehow seen as a compliment.

Thankfully 14 year olds don’t rule the world.

Yet.

We Will…

We need help. We will help others.

We need kindness. We will be kind.

We need love. We will love more openly.

We need friendship. We will be reliable friends.

We need acceptance. We will be accepting of others.

We will read books, watch movies, and watch TV shows about nice people who do nice things.

We will work to recognize our own selfishness.

We will not leave each other behind.

We will use gentle language and gentle voices.

We will choose to believe that we are capable of unending goodness.

We will accept that we don’t have to be defined by our worst choices.

We will do a minimum of 1 kind and selfless act every day.

It might all go to hell tomorrow, but today was a good day.

#NiceInNashville

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Need…

It costs us nothing to be kind. Simple acts of kindness radiate. They change our lives and the lives of others. This is the least complicated truth we’ll ever experience.

Knowing that, why do we so frequently choose harshness?

Because as broken humans, we need all of the other broken humans to look up from their brokenness and recognize our brokenness. We all carry our questionable decisions and relational failures and lifetimes of inflicted and received hurt on our skin, on our countenance, on our souls. We spend our lives silently begging the world to say “We see that you’re trying. We see that you’re doing your best. It’s good enough, we promise, it really is good enough. In fact, it’s awesome. You’re awesome”

If you’re looking for disappointment, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for fuel for your anger, you’ll get more than you need. If you are looking for evidence to bolster your most recent dissertation on how much people suck, you’ll be quite chuffed indeed.

How do we look past all of that and see the slivers of good? The earnestness? The crumpled goodness?

We become what we need.

#NiceInNashville

 

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Thinking…

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking over here….

We’ve been thinking about how hard the last four years have been. Honestly, I was not prepared for what my family would experience in middle school. Now we’re in that summer before high school starts and we’re thinking in THAT direction.

And vomiting. And regularly assuming fetal positions. And really doing some championship drinking. Is it just us?

Everybody at my house has been in a pretty hard place for a while now. When my friends get together, we talk about the strangers our sweet children have become to us. We leave those meetings full of truffle fries and tequila, with the assurance that, yeah, our kids can be our biggest challenges, but at least we’re all living the same surprise reality.

What’s crazy is that in the moment, that feels like good news.

I get it, it’s hard being a teenager. There are clumsy, blind jabs at independence, the even clumsier attempts at appearing mature, the sexual awakenings, the matter of their brains NOT BEING DONE YET…

But what is missing?

I recently read that all relationships are based on either power or connection. That was a GIGANTIC revelation. But why does the needle seem to point so overwhelmingly in the direction of power-based relationships when it comes to teens? Where’s the connection?

That’s where it gets interesting. Let’s talk about smart phones.

Teens think of 300 likes on an Instagram post as connecting, even though many of those “people” who like their posts are not actual humans.

Teens don’t talk to each other much. They’re convinced that emojis and word abbreviations sent by text are examples of “talking.”

Teens think gaming with strangers in other states and countries means connecting.

Teens have unlimited access to really adult stuff in their pockets all of the time.

And regarding that “adult stuff,” many teens lie about the amount of time they spend on their devices, what they’re doing there, and they know how to cover their tracks. Look up some stats on that one, friends.

At our house we’ve weathered bullying, meanness, power struggles, all kinds of ugliness-from both the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat-much of it playing out on Google Hangouts and Instagram. There are few parental sorrows that compare to knowing that your child has been the recipient of planned episodes of unkindness…

Unless it’s knowing that they were the ones being unkind.

So here’s what we’re going to do, we’re ditching the teen smart phone for a while. It’s all Flip Phone City over here. Maybe it’ll be the new cool.

And also, we’re going to do a daily practice and a deep dive into what it means to connect and what it means to be nice.

I’m not an expert on any subject, but I’m pretty damn nice. I live a beautiful life with the assurance of dozens of beloveds who would answer my call in the middle of the night. That has almost nothing to do with me and a lot to do with the fact that each tiny kindness creates ripples that wash over our families and communities, multiplying and rippling even farther.

#NiceInNashville

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