Nashville: Where I rediscovered intentionality

How hard is it to be real with people? How hard is it to look someone in the eye and say, “you know what I’m not okay because…of this or that? Its tough because so often we as society tell people that they have to be good or great. But when did conversations become such small talk? Society has become so entrenched with our phones that a conversation cannot be more than than small talk. People ask a few questions and then become lost in what Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and anything else that is on their phones. But sometimes people want so badly for the person that they are hanging out with to just put their phone down and just listen to them.

People are hurting all over the place. There is real pain in this world. But sometimes people are so engaged with what is happening on the 5-6 inch screen to realize  that people in front of them are in pain. They are so consumed with the phone to see that the people in front of them need them to be there to listen. Sometimes people don’t even see that the person in front of them could use a day that you put down the phone and just go with the flow.

I am very blessed that I was able to work at a place the past few summers that pushed us to be intentional with people that are in front of us. Kanakuk Kamps changed my mindset about being with people. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t have my phone all the time. Maybe it was the fact that I spent every waking hour with kids and college staff that was in the same spot as I was. Maybe it was the fact that once you put down your phone real life conversations can begin. Conversations that involve people talking to others and wanting to get to know that person genuinely. I can tell you that these were the best summers of my life. I have people all over the country that I could call at a moment’s notice and they would drop everything to talk because we forged those bonds without that thing society has been so attached to, a cell phone. But I can also go to their town and they would put the phone down and be ready to make memories immediately.

For awhile now, I have felt like I have been missing out on intentional conversations. So many people keep it so surface level and sometimes it is frustrating. For the past few months I have been frustrated. I have been frustrated by just the lack of depth that I have had in my conversations, mainly because people are so engaged with their phones. And this does not mean that I don’t do it. I am just as guilty about looking at my phone to avoid a deep conversation or an awkward conversation. The phone sometimes is my safety net. But why? Why do I look at my phone to avoid things? Why do I look at my phone to get out of having real conversations?

As most of you know I have traveled a lot in the past 5 weeks. I went to Chicago, KC, OKC, Chicago, and Nashville. I have traveled thousands of miles in 5 weeks. I have spent many weekends away from Memphis. I have gotten back to Memphis late Saturday nights and early Sunday mornings. I have found that so many people just want to talk and want me to listen or just talk back. But it wasn’t until last weekend that I made a day trip to Nashville. I made a day trip to Nashville that really has been such a blessing.

The trip to Nashville was to see a friend that (surprise, suprise) I met at Kamp. Catherine Simmons is a girl that goes to Lipscomb University that I met my first week on Kampout leadership last summer. Kampout is a traveling Kamp that is a day Kamp that partners with the local church to provide an experience for kids that would never get to go to Kamp. Now that I live in Memphis, I only live three hours from Nashville so it is an easy day trip. But back to the point of the blog post, Intentionality. I had been in a little bit of a funk by just the shallowness of conversations that I had been having. Last week I asked Catherine if she was free this weekend and then the ball got rolling for my Saturday trip. I was pumped to see her because she is a familiar face. We had an incredible day of running around Nashville. We were incredibly spontaneous, we ran around downtown, got hot dogs from a street vendor, randomly got free snow cones, explored buildings that neither of us had ever been into, thrifted and got some steals from Goodwill, ate crepes, and went to a Cowboy singing show. Yes a ton in 12 hours but it was an incredible day.

In the middle of Nashville Snow cone in hand

In the middle of Nashville Snow cone in hand

But what made the day one of my favorite days that I have been apart of was not all the random things we did. It was the time that was spent just being incredibly intentional. We asked real questions, some of them were deep and some of them were not so deep but rather fun questions. She asked hard questions that I didn’t want to answer but I was so thankful that she asked me them. But we put our phones down during meals and enjoyed each others company, and it was AWESOME! We had real conversations and they were a highlight that made my SportsCenter Top 10 list of the month. So thank you Catherine for showing me true intentionality at a time that I truly needed it.

So challenge for the blog today. When you are out with friends at dinner or something, put your phone down and enjoy the people that are there in front of you. People need it more than you need to scroll through Twitter or Facebook. They need it more than you want to see what everyone else is doing on snapchat.

Some food for thought

Some food for thought

Thad Ernst

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