Have you been out for coffee or dinner lately and looked at the people sitting nearby? It never ceases to amaze me how many couples or friends sit together at a table, yet are each glued to their smartphones; texting or surfing the internet. There is no conversation taking place and very little eye contact or interaction.
We can be together with people but not really be “with” them. Not present. Not available.
Life’s busyness often leaves us so exhausted that we don’t have energy to put into the relationships with those we love. We don’t see the longing, or hear the sadness, we fail to notice their needs, and can’t find time to really listen. Our conversations become superficial, and everyone goes away empty.
Developing depth, intimacy, and authenticity in relationships takes intentionality. And that is precisely is another one of my goals for 2020.
The first and most obvious thing we must recognize is that we only have time or capacity for so many close relationships in our lives. We have to decide which ones we want to invest in and then consider how we will do it.
It is important to me to be intentional about being authentic and grow in intimacy with my husband, family, and closest friends. In order to do that there are four key areas I want to look at and develop ways to improve in. In reality, I want to learn to practice ways of loving them better.
I want to grow in loving others better by…
1- Being honest, truthful and transparent, saying what I mean and meaning what I say.
In recent posts I have shared how fear makes me run in relationships. The need to people-please keeps me from saying what I want. I end up fearing that what I say will cause rejection, or leave me feeling abandoned and misunderstood. So I say what I think they want me to say. This means I need to learn to stop hiding me, who I am, what I want, what I like or dislike, or what I need. It means learning to say “no” sometimes. It means saying, “I need…” a break, time to rest, to journal, or time to be alone. It means facing my fears and being real.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. ”
Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
Ephesians 4:15 “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is thg he head, even Christ.”
2- Being available/ taking time for being together.
I also have mentioned how I get over-focused on my to-do list. And in doing so I miss out on opportunities. People have learned from my previous responses that I am often too busy to be available. I always have an agenda, and I am often not very flexible. This leaves me feeling alone, and I end up feeling lost and disconnected. I want to set aside my to-do list more and more often and say “yes” to opportunities to be together with others. I want to make myself available when I am called on, and say “yes” when I am needed.
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Hebrews 13:16 “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices Gid is pleased.”
3– Being present, fully there, in-the-moment.
My preoccupation with getting things done also keeps me from being present. My mind races through what needs to be done, my eye on the clock even when I am physically with someone. I want to learn to really relax and be there, and enjoy the “being with” the people I am with. Being present and really listening are ways to show we really care, that what the other person is saying really matters to us. That they matter to us and that being with them is important.
Philippians 2:4 “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is within your power to do it.”
4. Being a safe place for them and their feelings.
I want to grow in being a safe place for others and their feelings. In order to do this I need to grow in being loving and gracious, rather than being critical and judgmental. I want to learn to do more listening and less thinking ahead, trying to figure out a way to solve or fix things. Along with this, I desire to grow in being more patient and prayerful, so my responses are Spirit-led.
Ephesians 4:1-2 “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for another in love,”
Proverbs 12:18b “…the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
James 1:19b “…But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Proverbs 17:27 “He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is as man of understanding.”
These will be my relational areas of focus for the new year. They are important changes that I want to develop. They are areas I need to continually keep in prayer. The Lord refreshes my soul with His loving-presence, with His grace, and with the peace and joy He fills my heart with. I want to refresh the souls of those I love as well.
When you consider your relationships, are there changes you want to make, goals you want to set? Are there ways that you can love others better?
Growing in valuing relationships more and loving others better is an important area for me to work on in 2020. I will be sharing a few more focus areas in my upcoming posts in November and December. I hope you will join me here.
*Photo from Unsplash by Aaron Burden