152. What I Learned From a Year of Intentional Proximity

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My word for 2021 was Show Up. (Okay, that’s two words, but who’s counting?)

This simple phrase impacted so much of my year and served as a guide for how I lived my day-to-day.

Any time I found out a friend was struggling or discouraged or just feeling overwhelmed or tired, I tried to stop and pray, “God, how would You have me show up for her?” That sometimes looked like sending a text or checking in regularly or just stopping to pray or sending dinner or a card. But it often looked like reaching out of my comfort zone and offering intentional proximity — like showing up at her house (even if I didn’t know her that well) to give her a hug or watch her kids so she could take nap.

Here’s the beautiful thing I discovered: taking those steps beyond loving people well at a distance (where it’s still pretty safe and comfortable) to leaning in and showing up right in the middle of the mess is awkward and uncomfortable at first, but some of the deepest community has been forged in those vulnerable spaces this year.

I often didn’t have the right words to say. Many times, I questioned as I was driving to someone’s house, “What am I doing? This is crazy! What if I show up and it’s just really weird.” But then I’d remind myself that this wasn’t about me; this was about me showing Jesus’ love even if I felt inadequate and awkward.

And every single time, I would leave knowing that it wasn’t about saying the perfect words or even doing a lot to make a difference, it was just communicating to a long-time friend or newer acquaintance: I am WITH you. You are not alone. You matter. I see you.

I think that in our often-detached virtual world, it’s easy to play it safe in relationships. To hold people at arm’s length. But playing it safe never builds strong community or deep relationships.

Let’s be people who pursue intentional proximity. Who show up for others — even when it feels uncomfortable. And who keep showing up over and over again.

We were made for community!

In This Episode

[00:34] – Welcome to another episode of The Crystal Paine Show. Starting the year off with colds.

[02:09] – Finally finding our groove while traveling to Kansas.

[06:00] – How cold is cold weather to us?

[08:36] – Jesse shares what is saving his life.

[10:10]  – The lotion that is saving my life.

[13:11] – My book update and my new monthly reading goals.

[14:35] – The last book I finished in 2021.

[15:55] – We share a running inside joke about our marriage.

[17:05] – What is Intentional Proximity?

[20:00] – Don’t just say, “Let me know if we can help!”

[22:15] – Yes, it was awkward, at times. But it was worth it.

[25:35] – It was a great reminder that it wasn’t about me but about showing Jesus’ love.

[28:11] – What would intentional proximity look like for you?

Links & Resources