This weekend, on my way to my daughter’s out-of-town basketball tournament, I heard an interesting discussion on the radio. I’d caught a talk show featuring insight from Christian business people, and the day’s guest was a woman who apparently has done well in the business world. She was being interviewed about the secrets to her success.
One of the secrets she revealed is that it’s got to be about relationships. Yes, even when the bottom line is squarely in front of you, or a deadline hovers, or the days seem shorter than the work details that need attention, above all else it’s the relationships that must matter most.
“What else do you really take with you in the end, after all?” she asked. Challenging words from a woman who has lived a little, made some mistakes along the way, and finally come around to figuring out that when it’s lunch time, the best thing to do is turn off the computer, grab your lunch and sit with a friend for a while.
I have to admit, I was loving hearing her insist that lunch time should be about more than lunch or catching up on emails or sending Tweets. She spoke about it as if it were sacred time; time to leave the intensity of work for a while to be in communion with other human beings. And I think it’s just as important for those who work at home as those who are in an office with lunch mates at the ready; perhaps more so.
We live in a time when so many different sorts of relationships are accessible and at our fingertips in an instant. Fulfilling as our online friendships can be, they cannot replace the benefits of meeting a friend for lunch, looking at her face as she talks, absorbing her words and responding with genuine caring. There’s just nothing that can compare.
Thankfully, the radio business lady was preaching to the choir, at least the one-woman choir in my minivan. For years, I have inherently understood this important principle. Even when I had small children, I made time, a couple times a month or more, to get out and have lunch or coffee with friends. Sometimes we would take the kids along, but other times we would hire a sitter for the blissful luxury of uninterrupted girl time.
There have been some in my life who have thought this practice was a bit on the frivolous side, but I’ve always stood my ground on this point, because I’ve always known on a very deep level that it’s less about the stomachs and more about the relationships that are being fed. And I knew that without the chance to foster these relationships, I would not truly be living.
So when I heard the admonition on the radio, it was just affirmation of what I’ve already known. Work is important, whether it be housework, homework or paperwork. But it’s imperative we interrupt our work routines to take time to be in relationship.
A few weeks back, a friend and I met for lunch, even though neither of us were feeling that great. We both had thought about canceling, but decided to keep with the plan. We were so glad we did. “I just figured I had to eat anyway, so I might as well eat with a friend,” she said. What could have been a day spent sulking at home turned into a beautiful hour of catching up and exchanging pieces of our souls.
And last week, two college friends whom I hadn’t seen in many months took time to meet me for coffee, and that, too, was an hour I would never exchange for another scenario. It was gold.
So if you’re feeling guilty about pulling away from the desk, don’t! I give you enthusiastic permission to call a friend, set a date, have lunch. The work will still be there when you return, but you’ll have more energy and life to give to it. Remember, it’s about more than just lunch.
Q4U: When is the last time you met a friend for lunch? Where did you go? What did you eat?