Thursday, November 24, 2005

Building Strong Relationships

You know, Thanksgiving is a really great idea in concept. To give thanks for the blessings in your life is a practice that should be practiced in your daily life. The whole history around the day is crap (see this article I just read), but the idea of giving thanks really resonates with me, and has caused me to reflect a bit more deeply.

My mental inventory of blessings, leaves a lot for me to be thankful for, but by far, the people in my life, make my days truly complete. And I can say with an honest heart, that being far from home certainly makes the situation difficult. It is hard to be away from those who give you life. It is hard to conduct life without their presence, and in turn, also miss parts of their life.

Nevertheless, they are always with me, even in the most random moments of my day. And even more importantly, there are those who may not be from my "home", but they certainly have significant roles in my life.

But here’s the’s the more personal side of my thought. I build relationships everywhere I go. I engage my heart in conversations, I invest my emotions in people and I very truly fall in love with those I come into contact with. I can’t really help’s the very fabric of who I am. The kicker is, I fall in love with these people...they fall in love with me...and then I leave!

I can’t even explain how hard it is to leave someone...leave many someones, over and over again. To say goodbye, see ya later, and start all over again. It really is hard stuff, and if you think about it for a long time, you could get stuck in a holding pattern.

You see, the temptation here is to say, "Well, I am going to be here for only _____ time, and so I will find some friends to hang out with while I am here, but really I’m not going to invest very much so no one gets hurt."

I know that people live their life like this. I know that people let this certain fear of intimacy and loss, dictate their life, but in reality, the unhealthiness of this attitude, maintaining this level of superficiality, is what I most afraid of.

Besides being afraid of fire and heights, I am afraid of people not knowing me, and in turn, that I might not be able to connect with people. Now for the record, this fear is not really active in my life. At my current state in living, I don’t have a hard time building relationships (even if I am a little socially awkward at the phone) , but I think if I actually allowed myself to be tempted to hold back on the building process, my actual fear might become more of a reality.
Building strong relationships, as difficult and challenging as it is, is what I believe to be the core of the human experience. To honestly open your heart to another person (even in time of pain), can be one of the most fulfilling and REAL experiences of your life. And even though I have failed miserably at some points within this process, I never stopped valuing the people or the relationship itself.

With that said, I have also come to realize, that not all relationships are meant to last forever. There are some connections that are meant for a perfect time and a specific place, and the duplication or revisitation of the moment is impossible to rekindle. But that doesn’t mean that the relationship was any less meaningful or important in the journey of life. It doesn’t mean that love was not shared, or a true connection was never made. There is no fault of one person or another for not keeping in’s just the way things happen sometimes. And yes, this too is painful. But if you think about the people in your life that you might have only known for a short period of time, chances are, some of those people made a significant impact in your life. The professor, the mentor, the high school best friend, the coworker you had at your first real job...the list goes on. Those are the people who left a mark on your heart, who helped shape a bit of who you are, and in some ways, simply acknowledging their role in your life, helps when building other new relationships that may or may not last very log.

You see, I’m not really very judgmental when it comes to the people I surround myself with. Yes, there are certain traits and characteristics that I am fascinated and attracted to in a person, but really, I build relationships with a lot of different people. Because the way I think is this, "What if, this person, is the one who will completely turn my world upside down...what if this person is the one to make me think of something in a new way...what if this person is the one to introduce me to the love of my life...what if this person IS the love of my life...what if this person was put in my life so that I might help them...what if, what if, what if?"

Man oh man, these are the questions the rest in our hearts every day, and sometimes we really don’t even know it. And sometimes, we are so very afraid to know it. For all the struggles, the joys, the sorrow, the uneasiness, the awkwardness, the loneliness, the incompleteness and the completeness, I am a better person for sticking with the process of building strong relationships, and really, it has all been very worth it.

On this day of giving thanks...please know that I am thankful for YOU!
(PS...I know this is a little cliche, but if you know me, you know it is from my heart...and you know that I am saying it with that certain smile...and that there is always a warm hug, and tender eyes of compassion looking right back at you to know that I really do mean it!)

No comments: