When I was in college there was this group that would meet once a week and just talk. They were called “Conversation Cafe’s” – the idea was to give international students a chance to practice their English and make some American friends. To be frank, I was naive and immature in my viewpoint at the time and I thought they were lame and cheesy. At this point in my life, looking back, I was wrong.
I think that group had the right idea. What better way to be inviting and to love on people. Everyone has a desire to connect and when you walk off that plane and into a new country, it can be quite scary. K-State had a fairly diverse student body and a very welcoming atmosphere and family feel they’ve spent years building, but I’m betting that Conversation Cafe was where a lot of friendships started. Perhaps it was awkward and hard at first to talk to people you (in that moment) think you have very little in common with, aside from your love for coffee and sugar. But after a while, as you took the time to get to know one another, I bet you discovered other similarities – perhaps you shared some fears/insecurities or maybe some personal strengths and dreams, or favorite sports. At the very least, you could probably unite about the excitement of seeing a K-State Football game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, or enjoying ice-cream. Because if you don’t like ice-cream, then there truly is something wrong with you.
As Allie and I were sitting on the couch last night watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas (no, you didn’t read that wrong – Christmas starts in October, according to her), we started sharing what was on our hearts and one of the topics that came up was the lack of open and honest communication that exists nowadays. Genuine conversation and handwritten letters have been substituted with random, quirky interjections on social-media platforms and brief check-in texts with friends. One of the guys in my men’s group was talking with me on the phone about the issue of social-media and how it’s kind of poisoned our society and he said, “It should be called anti-social-media – there’s nothing social about it! There can be a room full of people and we will all be looking down at our phones the minute there’s a brief lull in the conversation. When’s the last time we were all just present with one another?” I had found this comment convicting and left my phone upstairs in our bedroom last night which ended up being extremely fruitful as it made me entirely present – taking the time to be emotionally intimate with my wife and to help rearrange some furniture in the living-room.
One of my sisters had shared with my wife and I that whenever she doesn’t receive enough likes on a photo or status update, she deletes it. The other day we tuned into one of her Instagram Live updates where she’s in a room with her friends, sipping on iced-tea and randomly chatting. It broke my heart for her when her two friends in the room were also streaming their own Instagram Live videos – there was no real interaction or conversation or storytelling or much of a point to the interaction – and when one of her friends looks at my sister’s phone, she said “Oh wow – only 8 viewers…” What made me sadder is that my sister didn’t even blink. I don’t even think she recognized the verbal abuse that just occurred because it probably happens all the time. (High-schoolers can be ruthless. I had some friends do some extra crappy things to me as well, but still…)
Our world is attention starved. “Pay attention to me! Like me! Share my stuff! If you retweet this, I’ll do this…” Manipulative, fear-based, and lonely – the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) culture has taken over the youth culture, and unfortunately, it’s penetrated “young” adults hearts like myself as well. When a young girl feels the only way to keep her love-interests attention is to dress slutty and perform acts she would rather not participate in before marriage, it is often because she lacks a genuine connection with someone that’s spoken into her life about her worth. She’s worth more than her cleavage and high-heels. And when a young man spends his days glued to his smartphone, constantly seeking the next high of someone liking him on Tinder and wanting a one-night stand, it is often because there wasn’t a man in his life speaking lovingly into his heart that he is capable, created in God’s image, and called to something greater than what the world has to offer.
When one is tied up in knots with an addiction to pornography or the necessity of a bottle of wine “after a hard day at work” on a several nights a week basis, it’s because they are lacking. Filling emotional, mental, and spiritual voids with substances and experiences outside of their healthy limits because they’ve forgotten. They have forgotten that they’re loved. Or perhaps they haven’t forgotten – perhaps they’ve simply never been genuinely loved or experienced a genuine connection with another human-being. And Allie and I’s hearts break for those people.
One of the things that makes me swoon for Allie is her big, soft heart. An amazing listener and so kind-hearted, it didn’t take long for my family to love her. “You’ve kind of set the standard,” said one of my siblings about the kind of woman a Meyer man should marry. So when she listens to someone tell their story of being cheated on, or experiencing abuse, or their feelings of worthlessness, it breaks her heart and stirs up in her a desire to help. And I think she’s rubbed off on me. When I see men constantly chasing after counterfeit affections to convince themselves they’re a man now, or avoiding responsibility and close relationships for fear of being hurt, my heart breaks for them. Do they not know they’re loved?
So this week, I want to challenge my readers. What can you do to show someone you love them? I read an “open letter” on the NFL protests written by a former Green Beret and he said, “I would love for those two leaders (Kaepernick and Trump) to have that conversation, but more than anything I just want us to love one another again. One great thing about freedom is that you get to choose everyday how you treat your neighbor.” Preach it, Nate Boyer.
I want us to love one another again. I want us to talk without being divisive and stirring up conflict. To have a conversation without talking at each other. I want hard, taboo topics to be discussed and people to be loved even if they do not change, because only the Holy Spirit is in the business of changing hearts.
The best thing that you and I can do this week is to pray for our enemies and those that have gone missing in the Kingdom and to be vulnerable with our hearts, that the Light may come into our relationships and kill the Darkness.
So put the phone down, brew a pot of coffee, and invite your neighbors over – maybe we need to be hosting some Conversation Cafe’s of our own…