Stop Being Typical (What I Learned From My 13-Year-Old Cousin)

This past week I got to spend some one on one time with my awesome cousin, Lily. She is thirteen years old and a total sparkler. She’s full of joy, reckless abandon and kindness. I mean, look at her!

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The first time we hung out we went to Starbucks for a couple of hours and just talked. It was at that point that I noticed something very unusual about teenage Lily. She had an iPhone with her (that’s normal), but the iPhone stayed in her pocket the whole time. She never brought it out except at the end when I asked her to show me some pictures of her friends. I can’t remember the last time I sat a talked with anyone who didn’t take their phone out at least once. Most people have them right next to them the whole time. I thought to myself, “It’s in her pocket, so surely she can feel it going off, but she’s still not checking it.” I was so impressed with her.

A couple of days later we went to lunch together. I thought the no phone thing was a total fluke and as waiting for her to bust it out. But she didn’t. Not once. Afterwards I mentioned how impressed I was with her and how much I appreciated it. I told her that it must be hard to feel it going off in your pocket and still not look at it. She looked at me and said, “I can’t feel it going off. I have it on Do Not Disturb.” I seriously almost passed out right there from the shock. I have honestly never felt so valued in my life. This thirteen year old gets it. Most people I know, including adults, don’t.

This whole thing reminded me of a quote from my favorite book, Love Does, by Bob Goff. He says, “When you decide to drop everything that’s typical, all that is left is just a big idea about an even bigger God and a world that’s worn out from the way everyone else has been doing it. The world has been shouting over the noise of our programs that it doesn’t need more presidents or organizations, what it needs are more friends. If you are a sincere friend, folks around you will quickly understand that there’s no hidden agenda and nothing on the other side of the equals sign—just you.” We have gotten lost in a world that has decided that the people who are sitting in front of us are not as important as the ones in our social media worlds, or our text worlds. We are so wrapped up in the people we can’t see, that we miss the people that we can.

I would encourage you to be a little more like Lily. Use that beautiful Do Not Disturb feature. Focus on the person in front of you for just a little while. Be a sincere friend. You will never regret making someone feel valuable.

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