This is a picture of my small group from when we met the other night (with a few missing).
Yep, these are my people. Ready take out drones (which one of us is sure are pervasive and always spying on us).
In addition to gun-popping, the evening included a potluck of appetizers, brainstorming about beer sleigh-rides, hysterical laughter, and prayer.John can’t get over how loud we are and how we are able to talk over each other in excitement, but still hear and respond. These are the same yahoos who joined me in an “experimental mutiny against excess” ala Jen Hatmaker. They are gamers for sure.
But what we were talking about the other night was relationships. We’ve been using Donald Miller’s Creating Your Life Plan, which is a great set of ten modules looking back to evaluate different areas of your life, and looking forward to set intentional goals. So this week we were mapping out the most significant relationships in our lives and analyzing them.
“The people you hang out with the most over the next 10 years, will determine the kind of person you will become.” Donald Miller
Two of the questions we talked about were:
- What relationships are positively affecting who I’m becoming?
- What relationships are negatively affecting who I’m becoming? What changes can I make or boundaries can I put in place?
I’d encourage you to go through the exercise yourself (or order the whole deal!), but actually it was the tangential conversations we had that have kept me thinking this week. In addition to getting side-tracked onto talking about beer sleigh rides, we noticed these things:
1. We all experience loneliness to some degree, no matter how healthy or friendly or connected we are. We long for meaningful relationships and can find them, but no other person will completely satisfy our desire for knowing and being known and completely accepted. We were made for God and only are complete in Him. But we are made for each other too, so doing the hard work of finding and investing in meaningful friendships is worthwhile.
2. Different seasons require different degrees of intentionality. When we are young and/or single, or older and empty-nesters we have more freedom, more choice in our relationships, but we also have to do more initiating. There aren’t as many relationships naturally built into the rhythm of our life.
For those in a season with kids, there are many years when community is comprised of “have to’s” – the people who are there at the soccer games, or on the PTA committee with you, or parents of your kids’ friends. You have a lot of relationships built into the rhythm of your life, but not as much time to choose who you’re going to spend time with. It’s important to identify what choices you do have.
3. There’s a wide variety of relationships where we need change. They may be family members. They may be unhealthy people. But they may also be great people who just bring out the worst in us – tempt us to compare or reinforce the negative voices in our head. It’s important to ask both, “What might God desire to teach me through this relationship?” and “What boundaries might make this relationship healthier?”
4. No matter how extroverted we may be, we all have a limited capacity – a limited number of relationships we can maintain healthily. And that may differ according to the emotional needs of family in different seasons. It’s good for us to acknowledge our limits, adjust our expectations, and be gentle with ourselves.
That’s a little of what I’ve been learning about relationships. That, and pop-guns make any gathering more fun. What about you? What are you learning or struggling with in this area?