This last week was quite an eventful one. In five days, I drove 2400 miles, flew about 2500 miles, climbed sand dunes in 113-degree heat, saw a sister-in-law perform in the Broadway musical Wicked, and got to know two of my cousins.
While traveling the final 150 miles of the trip, from Omaha to Fort Dodge, at about 1am Sunday morning, I had an opportunity to reflect upon the previous week. It was definitely and unforgettable week. In fact, I plan to write this upcoming podcast about my experiences this last week. Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been mulling over recently.
Relationships are developed through our presence.
In the midst of all the great things I experienced this past week, by far, the memory I will cherish more than others will be the time I spent with my two cousins. Amy and Allison are 16 and 12.
In 1998, my family moved about 500 miles away from most of my relatives. Throughout the years, I haven’t had very many opportunities to get to know my cousins too well because I’ve lived all over the place. This trip provided more time together than we had probably spent in our entire lives.
During the hours we spent together on the road, here’s some of what we talked about:
- Youth group experiences
- High school dance failures
- Instagram and how it’s the new cool social media program
- The challenges of living out our Christian faith in a public setting
- What excites us
- Our favorite junk foods and their merits
- Why Texas is overrated
- How we can deal with death and other difficult circumstances in life
- What we would have done if we were in a gunfight at the OK Corral
Here’s the best part: None of this was planned out.
It’s not as if we had a list of important topics that we wished to discuss. These conversations happen organically. Sometimes we were silent in the car, doing our own thing. Other times, we were asleep. While during other times, we didn’t want to stop driving because we had so much to say.
In the past few months I’ve been learning more and more the importance of relationship. Relationships are the primary vehicle God uses to influence us and help us grow. Jesus did this with his disciples, successful ministries understand this in the way they raise up new Christ followers, and loved ones grow closer together through cultivating their relationships.
This is so hard for me, though! I love seeing quantifiable results, and relationships are messy. They never look exactly like you envision them. They force you to be authentic.
When I look at a breakdown of how I spend my time at work and at home, I don’t spend as much of it on relationships as I should. This road trip demonstrated that to me. I’m missing out on so much when I don’t put relationships first. At the end of the day, nobody will care about how many blog posts I wrote, how many novels I read, or how many video games I beat. Yet, those are the things that I devote a significant amount of my free time to. Or in ministry I make sure to get reports in on time, and work through all of my to-do lists while neglecting to spend time with students and others.
This isn’t a post about “3 easy tips to cultivate meaningful relationships.” More than anything, it’s a reminder that relationships should be our top priority.
Reports, blog posts, books, and even video games all have their place in life. But to what end? If they don’t help us build relationships, then something isn’t right.
Anybody in the business of changing livings needs to recognize this. Lives don’t change in a meaningful way without relationship.
What makes it difficult for you to cultivate relationships in your work and free time? How have relationships enriched your life?