Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Face to Face Encounters

      There's a small town that sits inside the Georgia/South Carolina border. It's a rural community.  Some would even call it country.   I was amazed as I watched them at work. 

      My father had just taken his last breath.  Within the hour the pastor, his wife, two deacons and a church member were at the door.  They stayed with us until we were settled.  The next day phone calls began.  A steady stream of visitors, food and phone calls came for days.  People wanted to see Mom, hug her, hear from her, know she was OK.  I have never been hugged and loved on by so many strangers in my life.  

     I got in my car to leave after my 6 day stay knowing my mother would not be living alone.  She would have people around her, not at a distance, but up close and personal.  Her community would make the effort to visit, call, ask her to dinner.  It makes a difference, especially at a time like this.

     I too live in a small rural Georgia town, but it's a different generation.   E-mails and Facebook messages, are often the chosen method of communication.  Technology often replaces face to face encounters.   I am guilty.

    I was born in 1957.  Though I do not consider myself old, I'm old enough to remember how things used to be.  There have been some remarkable improvements to life as we know it.  I remember rotary phones,  party lines, three television channels that shut down at midnight. 

       The first cell phone was invented when I was a sophomore in high school. It would be years before they entered households.  I didn't use my first computer until age 24 while working for a doctor.  Only the wealthy had them in their homes. There was no such thing as the internet.   

     Life was much simpler back then.  There was no such thing as electronic games.  Children played for hours outside, making up games, and inventions.  We were never at a loss for something to do.  

        We had each other, and childhood friends.  It was common to gather together with other families.  We didn't have relationships over the computer, we had them face to face.

    It all came to me as I watched this little community gather around our family.  They are the older generation. They are not hooked into technology. They live face to face. 

     I’ve often tried to find words to explain what I felt was missing for me, but couldn’t ever get it out right.  Watching what transpired that weekend, put the longings of my own heart into words.   I long for face to face relationships.  In the midst of all this improved technology something’s changed?  Life has taken over, people are busy. E-mailing and Facebooking is easier.  It doesn't require as much time or effort.   


      It makes me wonder what God thinks about it all.  After all, we were made in the image of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit gathered together at creation.  The most important thing to Him is relationship.  He invites us to relate with Him.  He tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Can we really love that person in our community through an Email, alone?  Can we weep with those who weep through a text or Facebook message?

      My husband reminds me of a scene in “We Were Soldiers”.  A taxi would drive up to the house with a telegram and a stranger.  The stranger would deliver the news of the soldier’s death.  The Colonel’s wife got wind of it.  She wouldn’t leave the women alone in their grief.  She would deliver the messages.  She would mourn with the widow, hug her, take care of her children.  She would be the hands and feet of Jesus.

     What’s happened to us in this generation?  Things that were created to simplify our lives, have stolen life’s simplicity.   We wrestle with busyness and distractions while life lived in close relationships in the flesh, slips by.  

      As I sat at home, grieving the loss of my dad with my Email and Facebook messages, something was missing for me.  I missed the face to face encounters.   I missed the hugs.  I missed the eyes that showed they cared.  

     We can learn from the small community in Hartwell, GA.   I can learn from them.   They are the hands and feet of Jesus to one another.  It makes a difference in lives.  I know,  I experienced it.    As they embraced my mother, they embraced me.  It was love at it's finest.  Well done, Hartwell, Ga, well done!

    And the second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself."  Matthew 22:39

***P.S.... Just wanted to say, I am SO grateful for my "cyberspace" friends... It amazes me that I have friends all over the world.. Though I cannot see you face to face, I see you heart to heart..a true gift!

©copyrighted:  2009 Julie L. Todd


LisaShaw said... Reply to comment

Precious Julie,

First, I'm so glad to chat with you here. Secondly, you and your mom and family are still in my prayers. Third, I can fully understand and agree with what you're saying about face to face.

It didn't really HIT ME until we relocated to Fl 2 years ago. It's very difficult to meet like minded Christians here for a few reasons. Being a fellowshipping, face to face, love on you in person type of person has made this new phase of my life very difficult in many ways but also a blessing in other ways. While I love my online family and all the people through our Ministry website that I continue to have the privilege to minister to,it's just NOT THE SAME. My friends are all in other states and it can be lonely for female fellowship at times. I notice it especially when one of you is hurting and I feel so helpless not being able to come over and pray with you, bring you a meal, love on you and all of those things I'm used to doing.

I won't go on as I could but I just wanted to say that I understand. Technology is a wonderful thing when used with balance and for right purposes but it has also created a more impersonal atmosphere for people.

Love you dear sister and thanks for writing something that speaks from my heart as well.

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Dearest Julie,
It was a precious experience, having so many people hug you and love on you at the time of grief. Nothing can replace warm bodies when it comes to conveying sympathy and care at the time we need it most. I totally agree with you that technology has robbed us of things that God considers very important -- the face to face relationship. God talked to Moses face to face, the Bible says. And this is what we as a family enjoyed when I was growing up - the face to face daily encounter at the dinner table.

You hit the nail right on the head, so to speak. You have put it so beautifully.

For us however on blogworld, I truly appreciate this kind of relationship. I am glad I met you and can relate with you through this media. You are a kindred spirit, a soul sister, and I want you to know I am holding you close to my heart and lifting you up to Jesus during these difficult season of your life.

Sita said... Reply to comment

I do so connect with what you shared. I do miss the face to face of my childhood. Technology has made it easier for those defensive masks we put on. At the same time, it has opened a new door to 'virtual' friendships, sisters I learn so much from, and know that I am not alone.
Continuing to uphold you at this time. It's hard, isn't it?

ktwalden said... Reply to comment

How comforting to know the Hartwell community will be watching out for your Mom! It is true that nothing is quite like the feeling of arms to hold you and a shoulder to lean on when you need it. Words can be so encouraging and uplifting, also. That's where this generation's technology can be appreciated. Julie, you have brought hope and peace to so many with your anointed words about our Heavenly Father and my prayer is that you will receive solace from both the human touch and the divine touch.

KimAmburn said... Reply to comment

I found your blog via a comment you left of Planting of the Lord. I'm so sorry about your dad. I see the same issues as you - I have lived on the same street for eight years and hardly know my neighbors. We all need to do a better job reaching out in person. You've inspired me - I'm going to start today!

Angie said... Reply to comment

Julie--you are a jewel. I almost called you Julz. At a certain point in a friendship---nicknames come into play. For my CLOSE friends/family at my home church--it has always been "Angieloonie of the Day". All together. Sounds CRAZY...but the preacher started it! That crazy preacher who is more like a brother than anything...the one who stayed right beside Wanda (who he graduated with) until her life ceased here. He held the hand of each of us. Sang with us..prayed with us.
I am FROM a VERY rural community---the blood in my veins flows with the red clay of the dirt roads there...I know the feeling you've just shared.
I also know the love you have experienced through your blogville/facebook friends. They are an awesome bunch. Reaching out as best they can from the far reaches of the world. God is awesome in HIS far reaching love.

I am glad to call you my friend. My Julz. Love you dearly girl.

Laura said... Reply to comment

Sweet friend,

If only! Oh, that I could be there at your side to hold you up right now. I think of you every day and lift you up in prayer. What a blessing that the Lord had His hands there to comfort you and your family. He never fails.

Love you, lady.


p.s. I haven't gotten your package out yet, still working on it, but hope to soon!

Amy said... Reply to comment


How true your words are. God used a community like you have described, a group of women in a Bible study, to love me through the darkest season of my life. For 6 years every Friday morning they were the feet and hands of Jesus to me. Their encouraging words, their prayers, their hugs, their tears of empathy, their listening ears helped my broken heart to heal. My schedule no longer allows me to be a part of this Bible study. But from time to time I have the opportunity to attend a function with this special group of ladies. Each time I see them face to face I can't keep from weeping tears of joy. Being in their presence reminds me of what their AGAPE love did for my hurting heart. God literally loved me through their actions and words. This love changed me FOREVER.

It's good to be reminded that we need to continually be seeking God for the ways we can reach out to each other during times of sorrow.

This is REALLY what life is all about...letting God's love spill out of our hearts onto others - especially those that are hurting.

Thanks for sharing the beautiful story of the people in Hartwell, GA.

I hope to give you a big hug very soon!

Love you!

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

Thank you for your kind words. It meant alot to me.hope to get to meet your man next time we are up.
God Bless you. Jeff Knight

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Julie, how I wish I could be there to give you the hug which is on my heart. To brew that tea/coffee. To listen and hear all your stories about your dad. To rub your back, send you up for a nap, while i make dinner for your family.

Jesus, please send someone in my stead...oh, how I wish.


Miss G said... Reply to comment

Julie, this is a dilemma today and I don't know exactly what to do about it except to try to be face to face whenever I can and not miss an opportunity God gives me. Kelly

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment

Wow, I enjoyed both your entry and all the amazing friends who added their perspective about technology and face to face. I'm guilty of losing some face to face. I'm guilty of loving technology and hating it just the same.

What an amazing post you wrote. So real and personal. I'm thankful for the amazing group of people who have loved on your mom and your family during this time of loss. They are Jesus in action. What a gift. So thankful to know hugs were in abundance.

I am so frustrated that I cannot be there in person right now. I'm thankful for this avenue of communication, but with you, my favorite contact is as close as I can get, phone to phone for now. Still need to get that webcam. :) Want the face to face someday!

I'm sorry for my late read with your most recent posts. You've been on my mind a lot and in my prayers. I feel like my rest is almost here. It's been a busy few weeks for me and I don't like busy. I'm a simple minded kind of girl.

I love you! You are not alone.