Tuesday, October 02, 2012

picking up the phone is thoughtful . . .

I don't really "journal" on this blog, but today I just feel like writing what's on my mind . . .

Sometimes I think it is quite ironic that I write a blog about being thoughtful and often fail to do the simplest of thoughtful things like call my own mother . . . this kind of had me discouraged last week/weekend.  I am not a very good phone talking person (I get it from my dad).  But one way I can show my mom and other phone talking people my love is by talking to them on the phone . . . 

The problem is, I usually miss the calls.  I hardly ever screen them; I just flat-out miss them.  I can lose my phone (or my charger!) for a whole day at a time.  Or turn the ringer off during church on Sunday and forget to turn it back on until late Sunday night or Monday morning.  Or somehow be changing a poopy diaper every single time a person calls for three days in a row (that really did happen when Roman was a newborn and Linc was still in diapers).  It seems I am ALWAYS missing calls.

Which leads to the other problem--I am NOT always good at returning them.  I have gotten better over the years, but that is not necessarily saying much.

One of my biggest wake-up calls (no pun intended. really.) in this area came several years ago when I missed about three calls in a row over the course of a few weeks from a dear friend.  When I finally picked up or called her back (I can't remember which was the case), she said, 

"You know what, I have been depressed.  
It's been a really rough time--it would be nice if you'd answer your phone or call me back."

Yikes.  I had no idea.  But of course I didn't--I HADN'T ANSWERED MY PHONE in three weeks (and obviously hadn't called back yet, either).

Sometimes that kind of feedback can send me into a downward spiral of self-reflection and condemnation or resentment towards the person who gave the feedback.  But when this friend said these words, I was just sad.  So sad that I hadn't known what was going on in her life, that the weeks that had flown by for me between calls had been dragging by for her.  That I was out-of-touch with her world.

She actually did me a favor by saying what she said (in such a straightforward, honest way).  I needed to hear it.  And I did do better from that point on.  But it remains a struggle for me to this day.

Because here's the other problem--a lot of times I choose not to answer a call because it's a bad time to talk.  I feel like we all have our own "phone philosophies"--differing "beliefs" on when a call should or should not be answered.  It seems I have a lot of times in my day that are no-answer times--when I am in the bathroom, or eating a meal, or putting the kids to bed, or talking to my husband after putting the kids to bed, or in a face-to-face conversation with someone.  So when you add all of these times to the times I completely miss a call, it almost equals my whole day.

My friend Sarah, who says she shares similar struggles with the phone, gave me some good advice.  She says that she has started trying her best to quickly answer those calls, even when it is not a convenient time.  And she will just say hi to the caller and ask if she can call back a little later.  This way she shows that she values the call and wants to talk--just at another time.  I think that's a good idea.

As I write all of this, however, I realize that the key for me is probably mainly to initiate calls more.  Even if I still miss calls or can't talk at the moment, at least my friends and family will know I am thinking of them and caring for them when I actually call them for a change.  I need to pick up the phone more often to reach out.

I know we have probably all been on both sides of this issue at one time or another.  But it bothers me that I am so often on the don't answer/don't call side.  Do you think this phone struggle is a personality thing or a phone philosophy thing?  Or both?  Got any advice for being the type of person that calls more regularly?  I would really love to hear it!
I neeeed to hear it.  Pretty please? 

P. S.  Call your mother.  
And your friend.  
And anyone else you love and haven't called lately.  


  1. Hi Amber,
    I'm not a phone caller, either, unless it is to call my family or close friends. It is easier for me to write a note and check in with people. I don't know why. On the phone, I don't know what to say sometimes and I can articulate better in letters. With all that competes for our time these days, I don't feel bad about negotiating when phone times are for me. It is always easier to do what we are good at, but the balance of that is we need to become better at that which we aren't so great at. :)

    1. You know what, writing is easier for me too, Lisa. I feel the same way--it's much easier for me to articulate what I want to say when I am writing. And so I naturally find it easier to write, rather than talk. I totally agree that it's important to negotiate phone times, just like you said. But I found myself almost never talking on the phone, not even to my own family or close friends. So I really needed to stop and evaluate. Thanks so much for sharing--it's nice to know I am not alone, and it's really good to hear from you! :)

  2. Thanks for another post that I *really* needed to " hear"! I am guilty of not answering calls ( even when I know a friend/family is calling) because I just don't want to spend time on the phone at that particular moment. When I stop to really consider what I am doing, it is obvious that I am thinking more of myself than others. Selfishness is just another way of being full of pride. What I am really showing is that I think my time is more important than the needs of others. Isn't pride the root of the problem any time we sin? I didn't mean to start preaching :o) but I am also preaching to myself. Thanks again for this post. I will definitely think twice next time the phone rings and I think....."I really don't want to talk now."

    P.s. I do understand about there being "inconvenient" times to answer the phone so please don't think I'm saying that you are being selfish if you continue changing your baby's diaper instead of answering the phone.

    1. I understand, Donna. And I agree--we really should think twice when we are basing our decision to answer on however we feel at the moment. :) Good that you are thinking through your motivations in this area and that you do want to put others' needs above your own!

  3. Very interesting post. This is something that has been on my mind more recently. I know a family member who calls his parents every Sunday. Simple as that. He has been married for almost 20 years and as far as I know he has tried to hold to that practice. Obviously, everyone has a different situation and times when talking is more convenient. I've recently begun to do this (call once a week) more regularly with my mother. I have found it to be helpful in several ways. I make the time to call her when is convenient for both of us (this eliminates the inconvenience factor). It is also helpful that we talk about the same day of the week and around the same time. My mother is not a believer and talking to her helps me know how to pray for her soul. Since we talk regularly (once a week or so) we don't necessarily end up with extra calls during the week when it's not as convenient for either of us to talk. This routine is also training my kids in knowing that there are others (besides themselves) that we are called to love and serve. If I want my children to call me when they leave home, then it might be helpful for them to see me calling my Mom. Now, this post is looking as long as Amber's original post...so I think I'll stop. :-) I pray that the Lord will help us all to be faithful to reach out to those we love...near and far.

    1. Laura, I really appreciate all of your thoughts on this (and I never mind long comments--promise!). :)

      Whenever I know someone or hear of someone that is very regular in a practice, I want to *study* that person. I am just so NOT regular about things, so it helps me to watch people who are! I really love what you said about your family member and about what you are trying to do with your own mother. Did the two of you agree on a certain day of the week? Did you set a time?

      We are all so different, and for some people it would not be a big accomplishment to call someone at the same time every week. For someone like me, it needs to be written down in my planner with a reminder on the fridge or something! That's why I like to talk things through with other people and hear how they do things. It really helps me.

      "If I want my children to call me when they leave home, then it might be helpful for them to see me calling my Mom." That is so true! Thank so much for your input, friend. :)

  4. Amber - You came over to my blog today and when I stopped by yours, I was SO happy to see a blog about thoughtfulness. I aspire to be as thoughtful as I have the capacity to be, by God's great grace! God gave us minds and hearts to be so, after all. :) I've subscribed already and can't wait to read more!

    1. Thank you, Katie! I am so glad you stopped by! I love what you said about our "capacity" to be thoughtful--we really do have a God-given capacity to use our minds and hearts for others. So well-put! (I am glad you are reading--I've subscribed to yours too.) :)

  5. Call me...Maybe!

    1. If you're lucky.


      That is an annoying song, and I wish you hadn't gotten it in my head. But thanks for reading. :)

  6. You guys--thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I plan to respond to each one of you soon--but for now I just wanted to check in. I am preparing to leave early, early Thursday morning to drive to a funeral in Oklahoma (for my great-uncle). Thanks for thinking with me on this! I will be back soon . . .


blog comments are thoughtful . . . :)

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