The things we took for granted now have a whole new meaning. I went for a walk with a friend of mine, and upon parting, my friend said, “I needed this.” I understood one hundred percent what she meant. There is no substitute for face-to-face human interaction. It builds trust, understanding, and conveys significance.
As much as I appreciate Zoom and Microsoft Teams, so much is lost when you are only seeing a person’s face. Writing has caused me to be acutely aware of other people’s mannerisms. Stating she said, or he said, is like the Zoom call of writing. When authors use action beats, it draws readers deeper into the story. For instance, here’s an exert from The Sugar Baron’s Ring releasing June 23rd:
Using he said: “I knew you were playing matchmaker,” Colin said. “Whether or not I marry Miss Barrington will be my choice.”
Using action beats: Colin lurched upright. “I knew you were playing matchmaker.” He jabbed a finger into Bradlee’s chest. “Whether or not I marry Miss Barrington will be my choice.”
See the difference?
The Definitive Book of Body Language holds a comprehensive arsenal to reading nonverbal cues. For instance, men who don’t want to participate in conversations will often stuff their hands into their pockets. A woman will place her purse next to a man with whom she feels a personal connection and communicates emotional distance when she keeps her handbag away. How we hold our coffee cup can depict two different attitudes. If the coffee cup is placed on the opposite side of the body, creating an arm barrier, it shows they are unsure or not liking what you are saying. However, if they place the cup on the same side of the body, they are displaying an open attitude.
Alan Teo, the lead author of the study “Does Mode of Contact with Different Types of Social Relationships Predict Depression Among Older Adults? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey,” published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that depression rates can be reduced by half when a person met regularly face to face with friends and family compared to those who spoke via phone or email. I’m always awed by how today’s research tends to re-emphasize wisdom the Bible has proclaimed for centuries. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching,” [emphasis mine].
I realize that recently meeting has been challenging or near impossible in some instances, but we shouldn’t underestimate the power of gathering together, even if it’s in smaller groups. This past weekend was Pentecostal Sunday, which celebrates the beginning of the church when Jesus’s followers met together to celebrate the feast of the harvest, and the Holy Spirit fell upon them. They began speaking in all different languages and brought 3,000 new believers to the faith (Acts 2). There is an impact that we make assembling together. Jesus, himself, tells us he will be in our midst in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Jesus proclaimed to Peter that, upon this rock (meaning Peter), He (Jesus) “shall build His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail upon it (Mathew 16:17-19).” We need not to give up meeting together in times like these. We need to be meeting more. Doing so may mean thinking outside of the context of a building, but the church was never a building, it’s always been the people.
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