Meaningful Relationships

It’s Friday evening, and I haven’t written since last Sunday. This week’s post was to be the final one in my series about True Discipleship. My day job was chaotic, demanding, and very stressful all week. I came home each evening totally exhausted. I went to bed but sleep eluded me. Every night I woke up after about four hours of sleep then was awake, then asleep, then awake, then asleep until the alarm startled me at 5:30 AM. I stumbled through the day and repeated the same cycle every day.

Intending to write about meaningful relationships, I didn’t put one letter to paper all week.

My intention was to create a scripture-laced post that would encourage all readers to seek relationships that go beyond the surface. Deep. Real. Close relationships with those who share our faith and with those who don’t. The goal of those deep relationships is to be aware of the needs of others.

Good intentions don’t create anything.

Each evening I didn’t have the motivation to do anything, so I vegetated on Facebook. The first of this year I joined a Facebook group called 30 Days of Hustle and a subgroup called Hustle Writers. Over the past three months these two groups have become a priority in my Facebook time.

What I like most about these two groups is that members freely ask for the advice and opinions of the other members. Many communicate their struggles with completing goals, and many ask the rest of us to celebrate goals reached. There is a rare transparency.

I began following several blogs written by the members of Hustle Writers. I liked what I read, and I liked how I was slowly getting to know people who I probably will never meet in person. The group has members from all over the U.S. and from several foreign countries. I frequently ‘like’ and comment on their Facebook posts.

Communicating with strangers? Wow, that is so not me. I am and always have been very shy around those I don’t know. Now here I am electronically talking to people I probably wouldn’t recognized if I passed them on the street. Does your Facebook profile picture portray the total you?

If we lived close I would consider many of them friends. Actually, I already do.

It got me thinking. How does friendship develop?

It begins by having something in common. My earliest friends were in my grade school class. We had recess at the same time so we ended up playing together. I played with kids who were nice to be around and stayed away from those who weren’t. Later on friendships were birthed out of common experiences. Difficulty with chemistry resulted in conversations with others in the same boat.

Common interests and experiences are the foundation of a friendship. Liking the other person keeps the friendship alive and growing.

So it is with Hustle Writers. The common interest in writing. The experience of trying to reach a goal. Discovering a person is likeable based on how a blog post is written.

I have a new group of electronic friends. Maybe they’ll become 3D someday. Probably not, but who knows? We may attend a writers’ conference and run into each other. I hope that happens.

Jesus said we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That won’t happen unless I really get to know my neighbor be they electronic or 3D. As we uncover the layers of our lives we get to know each other more deeply, and our relationships become more meaningful. In my series on True Discipleship, I’ve tried to emphasize others now come first.

That’s a tough change for many of us. Our culture almost demands others benefit only if we’re looking out for ourselves first. Grow in my career so I can provide for my family. Over extend my credit so I can buy a bigger house so everyone has their own space and homework can be done with fewer distractions. You know the pattern. Of course we should provide for our families. But when I have to concentrate on the providing part so much that I’m primarily concentrating on me then something’s out of balance. Others, even my own family, are no longer first.

Working late at the office so you can send your child to the best college doesn’t mean a lot to an eight year old who had another soccer game you missed. Spending time manicuring your lawn doesn’t do much for that next door neighbor who just found out she has only four months to live. You didn’t even know she was sick did you? I didn’t either. We were both too busy with our own lives.

My new friends have taught me that when I take the time to read what they have to say I get to know them. When prayer is asked for, I pray. When advice is solicited, if I have an answer, I comment. When someone celebrates, the whole group celebrates.

These are meaningful relationships, and they’re becoming deeper.

Now it’s time for me to develop deeper relationships with my physical neighbors and fellow church members. I can’t serve someone if I don’t know their needs.

This is a big challenge for me, but I know being a true disciple requires it. Is this a challenge for you, too? Let’s make the effort together.

This is the final post in a series about True Discipleship. Other posts you might enjoy:

Using or Following?

The Excuse of Grace

Are We Ready to Follow?

Please Live in Denial

Our Love Hate Relationships

Who Can Live Like That?

Real Quiet Time

Grace and Works

God Has A Gift For You

Filling the Empty Bowl

Still Sinning?

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