If you’ve been following along for a while now, it’s probably becoming pretty obvious that I like to dive in head-first to heavy, deep conversations and interactions. I struggle with small talk, and quite often, if things don’t quickly progress to the “meat and potatoes,” I’ll check out and keep to myself. This has, at times, led to me struggling to stay connected to people.
“Where is this going?” you might be asking….
Well, it took a long time to come around on this, but during a conversation with my father, regarding building a bridge and reconciling, he dropped the little gem I included in the title of this post: “You know son… surface can be deep.”
When he said it, my head spun. “What?!?!” Echoed in my mind.
You see, what I hadn’t considered, was that not everyone was ready to go all-in on every conversation. Admittedly, it’s my “drug” of choice. Until that moment, I hadn’t considered the intensity that presents, and that most people are not as willing to “go there” as I am, or as routinely. Whether it’s because of insecurity to share or be vulnerable, or just simply not the way they show their interest and care, it was a new insight I needed to hear.
Now, bringing it back to his point, he acknowledged the simple things he does that, at first glance, seems “surface” (and to me up until that moment closer to “meaningless”). From the quick text, to sending a picture of the dogs, to hitting the “heart” button on a message in the group chat, to sharing a funny meme, to a 1 minute video call to say “hey” and talk about the game, he listed off an array of quick “pulse checks.”
So simple. At times ridiculous and silly. But at its core, he was saying “I’m paying attention and I’m still thinking about you.”
I don’t know why it took me so long for that to “click.” As someone who readily studies and pontificates on the importance of love-languages, it baffles me that I failed to realize this sooner.
For me, one of my greatest struggles was feeling the need to have to help solve someone else’s problem to be seen as of any value in people’s lives. Friends, family, acquaintances, and all.
(Hi my name is Caleb and I’ve struggled with a “Savior Complex.”)
To me, that meant that unless I was “called up” to help move heaven and earth on someone’s darkest hour, I should just stay in my corner of the world. Yes, that was a lonely place (have I mentioned that learning how to “connect” with people has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve worked on in my life?...).
It never occurred to me that “just checking in” and acknowledging that “I’m thinking about you” on a semi-regular basis could mean the absolute world to someone. (Mind-blown)
When I consider now that most people go about their day, without anyone ever truly acknowledging them or showing any real consideration for where they are at mentally/physically/emotionally/spiritually/etc., his seemingly paradoxical statement becomes even more apparent. A simple act of recognizing and/or appreciating your existence can be all the difference.
Whether it’s a smile and a nod as you pass by someone on your walk through the park, sending a funny picture in the group chat, or sharing a quick 5-minute call to get a pulse check on a friend, these are all little deposits in the “I care” piggy-bank of life. It sets the stage for welcoming further conversation. It increases the level of comfort and familiarity between two parties, and opens the door to when something more “heavy” comes around.
For a longer relationship, these small, consistent acts of love and care, build and reaffirm the bonds of trust. It’s more about the effort than the actual vehicle of delivery.
In the end, it is the persistent effort that says: “You matter to me.”
THAT, my beloved reader, is deep.
Until next time…
Love. Every. Body.