How are your relationships with those most important to you?
We can become so over-focused and busy that our deepest connections are set aside. We personally end up hidden in the charades of performance, in the busyness of accomplishing, and the real self is lost. We become people-pleasers. We work hard to get ahead, seeking to get the accolades. But this only leads to our being unavailable to give to those we desire intimacy with.
Shauna Niequist, in her book Present Over Perfect, says that when you begin to say yes to everyone indiscriminately, you actually end up saying no to some very important people and things. It usually means that you have less to give to those you are closest to you, like your immediate family and dearest friends.
I know, as a teacher for many years, I spent endless hours at home preparing things and doing work that I did not have time for during the school day. I realize how “over-focused” I was on getting the job done. This left very little time for relaxing with and really being with my husband. Back then, it seemed like a must, like it just had to be that way, but now as I am prompted to think about it again, I know I would want to do it differently.
What is swallowing up you and your life so much that you are missing out on the important relationships in your life?
Change begins by answering that question honestly, and from there you must decide if it is worth it to you to have your life consumed in that way.
Shauna starts out by simply drawing concentric circles with herself in the center and then putting people within the circles according to the depth of relationship. When you take time to do this and look carefully at what you see on your paper, you can evaluate where your focus is and decide where it should be.
We all need connection in our lives but we personally decide who gets more of us. Intimacy doesn’t grow without making your heart and true self available. It takes time and effort. When we are physically and emotionally depleted by what we have given away, we become unavailable to those closest. Unavailable because of being too tired or too busy.
I recognized this when I was working a lot, but didn’t see anything that I could do different, and truthfully didn’t have the energy to change it. Now, looking back and seeing how my relationship with my husband has grown since I do have time to give to the relationship, I regret not having done it sooner. I always would want to do my best job, but when it is at the expense of those I love it becomes of question of choices.
When we look at Jesus we see that we could make concentric circles to show His relationships. He was, of course, closest to His Heavenly Father. But, here on earth, we see that He had an inner circle of three, those being Peter, James, and John. Those three were the men He had deeper relationships with and spent a lot of time with. He was in their lives. From there we see that He gave of Himself to the 12 disciples; teaching, leading, and befriending them. And then we see, beyond that, there were the 70, these had access to Jesus on occasions briefly, they weren’t consistently in His life. There were multitudes of people clamoring for Jesus’ attention, with needs and desires, and Jesus had to make choices. His choices were made through prayer. He spoke with His Heavenly Father about who the 12 should be. It wasn’t left to chance. Yet, He showed a level of love and compassion to all.
It is important to know in our hearts where we are going to be willing to put our energy so that we can be deeply connected to those we love. We need to make a heart commitment to a few and give ourselves mostly to them. When we spread ourselves too thin we become unavailable in important ways.
Connection, relationship, and intimacy are necessary parts to all of our lives, but we must make important choices throughout life. No matter what stage we are in, we need to make sure that we are available to those who should matter most.
Are you deeply connected to a few or are you in the charades of perfection and busyness giving yourself away indiscriminately? Talk to your Heavenly Father, ask Him to lead you in the decisions you need to make regarding your connections and relationships. Jesus demonstrates a perfect example for us. Follow Him!