Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34, Jesus tells his followers to not bother with stockpiling things that will erode and rust or things that can be stolen. Instead, he encourages them to invest in treasures that are not affected by decay. There are few things in this world that would pass that test, but in the interest of our 12 Steps to a Healthier You Journey, I suggest that relationships fit this bill pretty well.
Essentially, the true wealth of a person’s life is measured in relationships, not money or possessions.
There’s just one problem with developing 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. In fact, all of us, if we’re honest, start out with zero patience or humility. As time goes on, we mix in some un-forgiveness and a bit of self-centeredness, and before we know it, we have few, if any, treasured relationships. Sure, we might have friends we gossip with or people we follow on social media, but would you call a heart emoji every so often a form of encouragement? Does a 10-bubble text really constitute a meaningful conversation?
If you think so, let me burst your bubble. It’s not.
But you’re married with kids, you say? That proves you have relationships. Sadly, in this day and age, it does not. With a reported divorce rate as high as 40% (the statistics are complicated here) and an estimated 20% (probably more) of teens struggling with depression, many families are in shambles.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor do I even know very many of the questions. But I do know that having friends is absolutely essential to every single person’s mental health. Everyone, and I’m not being overly dramatic, needs someone to feel a connection with. As moms, we need the support to be good moms and wives. Our kids need it from us to mature into healthy adults, as well.
Rather than let the rush of life sweep us moms along, we need to stop and consider how we can develop relationships first with the people already in our lives.
Let’s start with our family. If you’re married, your husband is the most critical relationship you’ll ever have this side of heaven. Until you can get your brain wrapped around that thought, you’re probably going to feel like you’re always spinning your wheels. Yes, men are different. Like alien life-form different, sometimes, but you signed up for that when you married him. So, dig in and make it work. Don’t gloss over your own imperfections (I don’t have to know you to know you aren’t perfect) to focus on his faults. Get counseling, if you need it, but go after your marriage like you’re going after the last piece of chocolate on the planet.
Next, think about your children. While they do grow up and don’t need us to wipe their bottoms anymore (thank goodness), they still need us – our encouragement, our love, our loyalty. Getting through those teenage years can almost make toddler-hood look like a walk in the park. Almost. Neither stage is a breeze, to be sure. But for every time a teen pushes you away, think of her/him as a toddler saying, “Me do it.” That’s essentially their attitude. They want to be in charge without having any idea how that works. So, like giving a toddler the water glass and letting him spill it a few times before learning how to drink out of it, let your teen take charge and be there to wipe up the mess when (not if) it happens. Help him adjust and try again. But do it with love and complete loyalty.
We’ve had a few experiences in our parenting years where our children’s friends (and their family in some instances) ended up not being very friendly. I get that. Kids are trying to figure it out as they go, and no kid gets through childhood unscathed. Which means that a parent needs to be that loyal supporter, not with blinders to the child’s faults, but with a deep belief that all things work out in the end. This approach to making mistakes, working through challenges, and moving on to new relationships helps children develop into healthy adults.
Above all, pray. Nothing substitutes for the desperate, “God, please give me grace to not kill her,” prayer. He answers faithfully.
And remember, your children may choose your nursing home, so developing relationships with them now could potentially pay for itself a million-fold in a few decades.
So, rather than concentrate on acquiring more stuff or multi-tasking the day away, let’s invest in real-life relationships with family. 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.