Today is Day 18 of the 30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life Challenge. If you want to jump in, go get the book at Amazon, Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life.
There is more to life than stuff. That’s a no-brainer, so let’s talk about relationships today. The true wealth of a person’s life is measured in relationships, not money or possessions.
So, rather than concentrate on acquiring more stuff or multi-tasking the day away, I want to invest in real-life relationships. Such an investment won’t fade in the sun, wear out with over-use, or go off the financial cliff. The bank cannot foreclose on it. No one can steal it. It is recession-proof, idiot-proof (well almost), and ages well. No other investment in the world can claim such great dividends.
The problem is the investment and cultivation of relationships. It’s hard work. It takes time and patience. It requires forgiveness and humility. Unfortunately, the average human does not possess any of these qualities in abundance. It’s also important to know which relationships are worth investing in…know when to hold and know when to fold, in other words. Because, just like poker, relationships are a gamble.
I have a general philosophy on relationships that I’ve refined through many, many, MANY good and bad relationships.
- Some relationships are not meant to be. At All. Walk away and don’t look back.
- Some relationships are inevitable but not easy. Do the best you can and pray a LOT. Try to avoid the bone of contention, but when it’s thrown at you don’t be afraid to throw it back with as much grace and kindness as possible. Forgive the offenses and don’t dwell on them. Things might not change, and that’s just the way it is.
- The vast majority of relationships are with acquaintances. People you can only spend a limited amount of time with in relation to mutual activities, friends, and family. These people are great to know, and it’s easy to be friendly, even helpful. But you can’t pour your life into getting to know them, not because they aren’t worth the time but because they are not your ultimate priority. The people in this group will change over time as you or they move or change activities.
- The inner circle of relationships has to be small. The ultimate size is up to you. Jesus chose twelve. I don’t think that’s a magic number, but it feels about right when you’re really investing emotions, time, and energy in a relationship. The people in this group need to be your spouse (above all), children, perhaps some extended family, and a few close friends. Choose this group well and invest your resources with them wisely. In the case of children, they will choose your elder care, and in the case of friends, they might share your nursing home room.
Right now, my inner circle includes my husband, my children, and my dad. These seven people take about all the time and energy I have for this season in my life. I have a good group of acquaintances through homeschool, work, and church. People I care about greatly but don’t have anything left to offer. Most of them understand the toll and offer to help and pray anyway, knowing I may not be able to reciprocate. Those are great friends and runners-up to the inner circle. I hope that I can be that kind of friend for them one day, one who tries to help without expecting anything in return.