Invest in Your Relationships
Published: February 2, 2010
How are your relationships with your family, your friends? As a culture we do not have strong relationships the way that we used to. In the past there were very strong communities. Generations stayed in the same area and spoke into each others’ lives. It takes years to build the type of friendship where you can speak the truth and have it received well.
In our culture today we are bombarded with the quick, instant, and fast. Relationships are none of these things, they take time to cultivate. Being able to share from the depth of your heart takes trust. Trust takes time to build, whether it’s in marriage, parenting or friendship. The only shortcut to trust that I’ve seen is going through a crisis together. Although effective, I do not recommend this approach.
If we invest more of ourselves in the people around us, we will have richer more fulfilling lives. In the long run, with more fulfilling relationships, family (immediate and extended) and friendship we would also be more productive. Think for example how much productive time is lost due to grief over a broken marriage. It is a sobering thought.
Here is a good way to start building into the lives of the people around you:
Be the initiator. Ask someone, don’t sit back and wait for others to ask you. In my own life I am usually the one to initiate friend time. I could let this bug me, but why waste the time and energy? Instead I pick up the phone or email and make it happen. I invite someone into my life. Don’t give up, try another friend if the first says no. This works for married people too. Invite your spouse out on a date, even if it is a walk. It says “I want to spend time with you” and that speaks volumes.
Be Loving. Love is patient, kind, protects, trust, hopes, perseveres, and rejoices in the truth. Love is not envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It does not keep a record of wrongs done, or delight in evil. Compare the two lists and take inventory about yourself and what you bring to your relationships.
Be discerning. Consider your relationships ahead of time. Think about where you want this relationship to go. Sometimes you are in a relationship to be the primary giver. Other times you are the receiver. Other time it is a give and take relationship. There are some people whom you don’t want to share your heart with, nor should you. Don’t step into every relationship that is offered to you. Consider where it will go.
Be balanced in not blabbing everything to everyone, yet sharing at a deeper level with someone you trust, because they have earned it. When sharing about children or spouses, remember you are a big part of that person’s reputation in the community. What you say affects the way other treat them. You may feel better having vented, but the listener now has a new perspective on your loved one. Will you feel good about that next week?
Be real there are enough plastic people out there, be who you are and be real. Don’t be that person who is a chameleon depending on what they think the other wants to hear. No one is perfect, so be real and enjoy the benefits of rewarding relationships.