My niece called me recently and said, “Hey, I want to make a new year’s resolution.” “Ok, I said. And you want to share it with me?”

“Yes, she said. I want us to call each other more.” I reminded her that we text often. “I know, she said, but I need to hear your voice.”

Wanting to call each other more had a lot to do with what happened between us this last year.

My sister-in-law called to tell me that something I had said that upset my niece. I immediately texted her. I wanted to explain that she had misunderstood what I meant. We texted back and forth, and before we knew it, there was an uncomfortable distance between us.

Later, when we couldn’t stand the loss we felt, I called her, or maybe she called me; I can’t remember. But I do remember hearing her voice and feeling tears in my heart.

We both cried. I could hear the pain and joy in her voice that helped me understand how she felt, and my response was a lot different than our previous texts.

Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate how we feel and misinterpret what other people mean.

Between state-of-the-art technology and the Covid pandemic’s insolation this last year, I’m afraid we are losing an essential part of being emotionally connected.

And even though Zoom is a great invention that helps keep us closer to each other in our work and family connections, something is lacking.

Communication experts tell us that choosing a phone call over Zoom can help you deliver appropriate feedback, eliminate confusion, and feel more emotionally in touch.

My children know me so well that if I answer the phone when something is wrong, they immediately say, “Hey mom, what’s wrong?”

I am good with words, so I could text them right after the house burned down and convince them that everything is alright.

My granddaughter likes to tell me jokes, and listening to her laugh is a gift I wouldn’t receive if she texted them to me.

My daughter has recently had some health issues. When I texted her to see if she needed me to visit, she was fine, but later, when the phone rang, I could hear how much she needed a visit even before she asked.

Texting can also be confusing when you are needing or wanting a response or not knowing how to respond.

Don’t you just hate it when you text someone, and the reply comes hours or days later, keeping you wondering, waiting, and impatient? I do.

People postpone answering texts for several reasons: they are too busy, don’t want to seem overly attached to their phone, or don’t hear the short text alert. I do that, too.

But sometimes you just don’t know what to say.  My son recently received a text from his sister.  He said it was so kind and encouraging that he couldn’t find the words to let her know how much he appreciated those words at this time in his life.

“The only thing I could think to do was to return a :).”

My niece made me stop and think when she requested we call each other more.

I texted a dear friend this week who has been battling lung cancer for the last eight years. I told her I was praying for her and would call her soon. Two days later, she passed away. I can still hear her voice the last time she and her husband met us for breakfast at McDonald’s, just a few weeks ago. Her laughter, her wonderful sense of humor,  her positive attitude that has been a blessing to so many.

If I had called my niece that day, I would have heard the confusion and pain in her voice. She would have heard how much I cared, and we would have talked to each other differently than our text messaging.

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