Thursday, October 15, 2009

That's The Way The, Mortar Crumbles!

So far we've seen how we build the wall of REALationship, using the brick of commitment and the mortar of trust supplied by both parties. We've seen that it needs to be built slowly to allow curing. We've seen that there is risk involved, that sometimes our investment proves not worth the time and effort we put in due to others misusing or taking advantage of our trust, at which point we stop investing in them and find someone who we can invest in.

Today we discuss what happens when trust is betrayed; when the mortar fails and crumbles.

The first victim of the failure in a relationship is trust. Commitment and love more easily survive a breakdown in relationship. Trust doesn't.

It shouldn't.

When our trust is betrayed in a relationship, what should we do? We should immediately forgive if we expect any hope for restoration. When we forgive we are not holding a grudge. In simple terms a grudge is allowing someone else to live in our minds and hearts rent-free. In a grudge, the person we harbor ill feelings toward usually has no clue that we think of them this way.

Need proof? Think to a time that you held a grudge against someone. I'm willing to bet that when you found out they weren't even thinking about it, you got even more angry. Why? We think it is because we cared and they didn't. Truth is, we know about the grudge and they don't. They are clueless because they have their own life and concerns taking up their time. They simply do not take time to think about us or our grudge. If we realized how infrequently we are thought of by others maybe we could let things go more freely.

So how do we go about rebuilding trust?

Getting back to our wall, we need to first remove the damaged mortar. This crumbling mortar is the feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal that we have. This is only removed by forgiveness. This MUST be removed completely if we expect the new mortar to hold. Any old mortar will weaken the wall, causing certain failure. Once the old is gone, we have the chance to mix new mortar and put it into place. At this point we are using our mortar and ours alone.

Why not use mortar that we have mixed with theirs? Because we do not trust them. Trust is the mortar, remember? So at this point we are rebuilding with our materials and labor. We do this in order to extend our trust, bit by bit, to see if there is any chance of rebuilding the wall. As we extend this trust we carefully watch for signs of failure in the construction. If we see that all is well, and the wall is standing firm through their proving trustworthy, then we can begin adding back in their materials and labor. The beauty in all of this is that we now have an opportunity to build the wall stronger than it was before. We see that it has withstood the severest test and been damaged yet still remains.

Trust can be rebuilt, but it is not easy because it requires one to extend their trust and risk having it betrayed yet again. So that is why we rebuild slowly, initially using our materials and labor alone, until such time as we see the relationship is strengthened by trustworthy action on the part of the one with whom the trust was broken, so that they can begin rebuilding the wall of REALationship with us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Does Trust Carry a High Risk?

So far we've seen trust as the mortar that holds together the wall that is built from the brick of commitment, and that this building takes time if we expect it to stand firm amid the trials and burdens that the wall must endure. Today I want us to look at the risks involved in trusting, and just how our example of the wall demonstrates that those risks are well worth taking.

We must extend our trust for there to be any chance of REALationships in our lives. There is always risk involved when we make ourselves available to others. How much risk we are willing to take determines the level of personal interaction and benefit that can be enjoyed between people.

I am someone that lives in such a way that I tend to extend my trust more freely than many others. I also normally trust more and deeper than many who are resistant to so freely giving their trust away. Yes I do and have been hurt when I trust so freely, but I cannot imagine living any other way. I can certainly understand the hesitance of those who have been greatly hurt by betrayal, and am not in any way minimizing their pain or belittling them for their decision. Maybe I get over things quicker; maybe my carefree attitude lends itself to not being so deeply affected by betrayal.

Not that I have never been deeply hurt by seeing my trust spat upon and cast into the gutter. I have. On more than one occasion. To go on extending my trust so freely could be seen by some as being too cavalier, too naive; too TRUSTING.

That is exactly the point. Even with the risk involved, and the memories of trust betrayals (some still fresh), I continue to extend my trust.

Why? I want to find those who I can trust, who I can develop REALationships with, and until I extend my trust I will have great difficulty developing those friendships. Actually, I have found that in many cases if I do not extend trust first it never will be extended to me.

So I go on building my wall with all who will join me in the task. I offer to many my brick and mortar, and invite them to provide theirs for the task as well. Some jump right in immediately; some observe for a while until they see that this wall is steady and worth building together; some are merely bystanders, intrigued by what they see but having no interest in taking the risk by joining in the task.

To me, all of this is part of life. An old adage from the drywall finishing business is that "you throw a bunch of mud on the wall and work with what sticks". I guess in a way that is what I do and am advocating you try as well.

Sure, there will be times you will be taken advantage of, and certainly hurt. I am. Go on building the wall anyway, inviting whom you will, working with those who join you in the task regardless of where you are in building the wall.

Let the bystanders merely watch if that is their desire. They are the ones missing out on the joy and camaraderie of accomplishing something wonderful: the mutual building of a wall of trust and commitment!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Building of Trust

As stated in my last post, trust is built, not granted. Yes, a certain level of trust must be granted initially, but for trust to grow it must be earned. This leads us to understand that trust building is a partnership, not an individual endeavor. We build trust by giving trust to someone. We expect there to be a level of reciprocation, so that we can know that the one we are trusting understands how trust works.

Trust is something we freely give, not something we are compelled to give.

When we establish relationships with others, we are moving our lives into a parallel path with their own. We do so with the goal in mind of having someone that walks through life with us, that we can also walk through life with. This is the benefit of REALationships: having someone that can pick us up when we're down; encourage us when we want to quit; even carry us when we're too weak to make it on our own. Someone that we can gladly do these things for as well. Those are the people we extend more and greater trust to. They have proven worthy of our trust.

We happily place brick upon brick of commitment in the wall of the life we live with them, using the mortar of trust to build higher, wider, and stronger walls of relationship. The brick we use is supplied by both of us; the mortar blended from the mutual trust extended between those with whom the relationship is being built.

This is the joy of living: having someone to commit to who commits to us.

So what happens when only our brick is being used? When only we are supplying the mortar? When we find out that we have been building the wall with our commitment and trust, yet the other party has been holding back, taking advantage of us by letting us invest all the material and labor while making no effort themselves?

No brick wall can be built without brick and mortar. To build a wall effectively and efficiently takes partnership. At times we lay the brick, at times we mix the mortar, but we work together in building the wall.

This is why we need not trust those who, through their attitudes and actions, prove that they do not trust us. We give our trust to those we deem worthy of it. When someone shows us that they are not trustworthy, then we should not trust them, or commit to them. It is as simple as that.

Our trust is given. It is granted to people that show us...SHOW us...that they are committed to and trust us, just as we commit to and trust in them, by building this wall together with us.

Remember, we freely give the labor, brick, and mortar. No one takes it from us without our permission.

We need not be, and shouldn't be, the only one furnishing the labor and materials for the wall.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Second Aspect of REALationship

We just finished looking at the first aspect of REALationship: commitment. Now we move on to the second aspect: trust.

Remember the illustration of a brick wall? Commitment serves as the brick of the wall, in which the strength and security of the wall exists. Trust is the mortar, the bond that keeps the brick in place and which allows constructing the wall of REALationship.

Trust is built, not granted. As one extends trust to someone else, they wait for their trust to be proven secure before adding more to the wall of REALationship. This is prudent, as you would not want to build a great wall upon an unproven and insecure foundation. REALationships are the same.

We get in trouble when we try to build big relationships before allowing them time to settle in. Due to infatuation, desire, or even what we perceive to be necessity, we sometimes rush the process of building. When this happens we end up with the same issues that arise from building a wall too quickly: when burdens are laid on the wall, it cannot bear them so it breaks down, crumbling over time or crashing down catastrophically. Neither are pretty; both are causes of great loss and added expense.

So how do we avoid catastrophic failure in our relationships? By building trust in such a way that time proves that the wall we have built is capable of being built on further, because it has borne the loads placed on it and has stood fast and firm.

Building takes time. Building trust within REALationships takes even more time.

Trust, like mortar, needs time to cure a bit. Be patient in building REALationships and you will find yours to be safe and secure, able to bear up under greater and greater loads because you have tested and proven them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Commitment is Not Done in a Vacuum

Commitment is deciding to make yourself available, standing strong with someone against the storms of life, daily if not hourly choosing to stay beside them when all others fail and flee, requiring an investment of yourself and your resources, and demonstrating the trust and faithfulness you have for and in them.

Commitments, however, are not meant to be done in a vacuum.

Something to think about: is conditional commitment really commitment? If we place certain conditions on someone before we commit to them, is that actually not committing to them? Is it really wise to commit to someone unconditionally?

Think about a family. If a child does not behave, is it wise or foolish for a parent to continue in full commitment to that child without having certain conditions in place? In a work environment, is it prudent for an employer to keep committing to any employee that regulary steals from the company, keeps everyone stirred up, and is insubordinate?

I don't think conditional commitment is an oxymoron. I know some would disagree, and that's OK. We have to remember that it is OUR choice, OUR investment, OUR resources, that are on the line in any commitments we make. It seems to me that it is wise for us to evaluate our commitments to see if they are truly worth what we put into them. I don't see this as selfish; in fact, I see it as just the opposite.

Each of us is limited in our resources. A buzzword today in business is ROI: Return On Investment. Businesses want to see that the investments they make are going to pay off in the long run for the company. Some see ROI rapidly; some will not see an ROI for a while; but all investments need to bring a yield that is greater than the investment.

In a REALatioinship, ROI is often not considered. I think it needs to be considered carefully. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Where do we choose to spend them? On what, or in who, are we going to invest that time?

I have friendships that have ended. Friendships that I thought would never end. Why? In some cases, distance was a factor. In other cases, I could no longer see a benefit in the friendship, as the investment involved was more than I was willing to make, or was decidedly one sided-I was making all of the investment. A few friendships have ended due to learning who the friend really was, and not liking what I saw, compelling me to end my commitment.

In each case, the commitment I once had made a priority now became less of one, or ended altogether. That's OK. This decision, though not always easy, did allow me to more fully invest in the commitments I still had and were making.

Commitments are very special aspects of REALationships. We need to make the most of the ones we have and let go of the ones no longer bringing any kind of ROI.

Only we can make that determination.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Choice of Commitment

The statement that "no man is an island" is never more true than we see it being lived out today. Since we are designed for relationships, it makes perfect sense that every person, regardless of age, creed, sex, or any other category we may fit into, has a need for commitment. A need to be committed to, and a need to commit to someone else. So how is this lived out? What does a commitment look like?

Just how DO we commit?

Commitment is a choice. It is a decision. Not a one-time thought, but a continual action of the will. To commit to someone is to decide to be there....and be there....and be there. Regardless of the circumstances or outcome.

This is a total giving of self for the greater good of someone else. How better could we show our love and care for someone than to be there for them whenever they require our presence? This is the descriptive living of selflessness. This brings such joy into our lives, because we find meaning in it. Many over the years have sought out the answer to the question "Why am I here?" which is answered at least in part by knowing that through commitment we are serving a purpose much greater than just living in our own little world. Through this decision we see that we can be committed to someone and not just involved with them.

I am reminded of a conversation between a chicken and a pig. The chicken was complaining about the farmer. "That farmer comes and takes all my eggs" the chicken was saying, "and just uses me as a source for his food. I don't think it's right for that farmer to take advantage of me this way. I mean, has the farmer ever considered the impact this has on me? How I feel so pressured to produce every day just so he can have his breakfast?" The pig listened patiently to the chicken's diatribe. The chicken's final complaint was "I just don't think the farmer ever realizes how much of a sacrifice I give for him." It was at this point that the pig spoke up and said, "I really don't see where you have such a sacrifice to make in the farmer's breakfast. You see, you are just involved; I am committed to his ham & egg breakfast."

Now that is real commitment!

Let's live today and every day, seeking how we can be ham to someone and not just eggs!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Strength of Commitment

Commitment is foundational to any REALationship. It is through our commitment to them that others know they will never have to face the storms of life alone. It is not necessarily a great number of people that are around someone that enables them to weather the storm, but it is the strength of the commitment that is made to them, even if this exists only in one or two friends.

To see this proven, take something as simple as a rope or string as an example. If you have a single stranded cord, then there is not much strength in that, because you have similar fibers that are oriented in the same direction. When you have a double stranded cord, then you are sharing that load stress across the fibers of two assemblies that perhaps are oriented in the same direction, yet are not oriented together until they are bound together. A three stranded cord is stronger still, and almost impossible to break.

Try a simple experiment. Take ordinary sewing thread and tie it off to something, then try to break it. A single strand can be snapped with little effort. Then tie off two strands and twist them together, using a pencil or some other anchor point. Now try to break it. It is more difficult, isn't it? Now tie off three strands and twist. Pull on that and let me know how you do.

Here is something else that is universally true. The tighter the twist, the stronger the cord. When two or three strands of thread are loosely twisted it does make a good cord, yet if you take the time to twist the strands tighter you get a much stronger cord.

It is also like this in our commitments within REALationships. When we take the time to invest in others, carefully and methodically entwining our lives with theirs, then we have become for them that two or three stranded cord that is twisted tightly. The great thing about this cord is that it becomes apparent that the likelihood of their also being a two or three stranded cord for us increases greatly. It may not be universally true, but the chances of them standing with us through our storms once we have committed to them in this way increase significantly.

If you knew a hurricane was coming, would you rather tie up your boat to the dock with a bunch of single stranded 1/4" drapery cord, or with two or three ropes made from drapery cord twisted tightly together?

To withstand the storms, whether big or small, I'll take my chances with the two or three ropes. There's more substance to them; more ability to take the stresses that come from being tossed around in the surf and wind.

That's the ticket. That's the foundation of commitment. To be so entwined with someone's life that you appear as one single rope.

This two or three stranded cord is what I want to be for those I commit to.

What about you? Who are you entwined with? Who can you begin entwining your life with?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Commitment From A Defining Moment

When we look at the definition of commitment, we see words like pledge, obligate, and entrust used. So what does this look like in daily living? How does one LIVE commitment?

Commitment is a decision to stand with someone or something regardless of the outcome. To commit to someone is to decide day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, to walk with them in their life. This shows that you are willing to make yourself available. See, in a REALationship it is not the smartest, or the strongest, or the richest, that makes for a good friend. Friends are found in those who give of themselves to you, and do so continually. To make yourself available is to commit completely to someone.

This need not be a physical presence either. I have a few people that will answer the phone when I call, no matter the time or place. They have decided to make themselves available to me. This does not necessarily force me, or compel me, to make myself available to them. No, it is MY decision to be available for them. My priviledge. I know they have committed to me, and they know I have committed to them.

Life can be so hard sometimes. Suffering is a part of living in this fallen world. To go through the trials and pain that all of us experience is difficult enough. To have to do it alone makes it almost unbearable.

I once heard that the reason you often see teams of horses pulling loads instead of individual horses was because two can handle a load much greater than each can alone. In fact, this example went on to explain that if one horse could pull 10,000 pounds then two could pull as much as 27,000 to 30,000 pounds. Even in something as simple as freight transportation we see a benefit to having someone else help you bear the load. This only can work however if the two horses work together instead of individually. I understand it is not in their nature to do so.

It is not in our nature either.

To commit, we must decide that we will make ourselves available to others.

Commitment is the outward demonstration of an inward decision to change the lives of those around you by being there for them, to make their lives more bearable and to allow them to know that whatever burden comes along that they must endure, they will never have to endure it alone.

Commitment is denying self and deciding to help someone else, even if they may not deserve it.

Do we really deserve those who commit to us? I know I don't.

Who can you touch by deciding, with no other requirements, that you will commit to them?

Whose life can YOU share a defining moment with today?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Commitment-the Bricks of the Relationship Building

I can think of few days more appropriate to begin the thread on commitment than Independence Day. It was on this day, about 230 years ago, that a few men recognized how a multitude of men had fully committed to something better and greater than themselves. What stronger statement of commitment can be made than for one to give their life for the greater good? In the immortal words of Mr. Spock, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." What greater statement can be made in proving ones commitment?

This is perhaps THE truest definition of commitment: to give of your all for someone else. I see that as the most demonstrative way to prove you are committed to someone. When you think of them before yourself and place them above yourself, you show you are committed to them. Even in the face of fear, when imminent danger is present, to act in betterment of others without thought to self is the ultimate demonstration of commitment to them. Our troops, in the Revolutionary War as well as in all wars since, showed their understanding of what real commitment is. Should you happen to bump into a soldier today, or ever, be sure to thank them for their commitment to, and sacrifice for, you and me.

So how should this be lived in our daily lives? Selflessly. Total, complete, selflessness. It is anything but easy. It does, however, demonstrate more completely and in the highest way possible your commitment toward the one to whom you are living selflessly. No other action, no other words, nothing else can show your commitment more strongly and more perfectly than to live a selfless life toward someone. It is important to show your commitment. To tell someone you are committed and yet to show that you think of yourself first, is the epitome of lies and deception. With commitment especially, our actions truly do speak so loud that no one can hear a word we say. This is a good thing, in that our true heart and intentions are clearly seen and lived.

Over the next few posts, we will look at commitment in depth, examining exactly what it is and how we go about letting those to whom we are committed, know without a doubt our commitment to them. This is one more step we take in establishing and identifying the REALationships that we enjoy with those whom we have, and are, committing to.

Until next time, think about this:

How do you make it crystal clear that you are committed to someone?

How do you know someone is totally committed to you?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

REALationship-the Benefit

I began this thread by pointing out that we are here for each other, that we are designed for REALationships, and that's why they are vital to us if we are to be emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy.

REALationships give us purpose. We find as we develop true relationship that all seems right with the world. Things don't bother us as much, and we find ourselves with great peace and joy even though our lives may be in total chaos. This is true life; this is true living, not merely existing.

What greater purpose in life could we have than bringing joy and happiness into the lives of those who commit to and trust us, and whom we commit to and trust? When we become givers, instead of takers, and discover ourselves wanting to give of ourselves more, we become the people we always hoped we would be. We become the people others hoped we would be.

Decide today that you will become a friend to someone that needs you to commit to them and trust them.

Their life will be changed.

Your life will be changed.

Dave and Jon had a REALationship. It was said of them that they committed to and trusted each other so much that it was as if there hearts were one. You would think that they would be the last ones to have a REALationship, because of their situation.

You see, Jon's father Sol was grooming Jon to take over the family business. However, the Dad, who was the owner and still had controlling interest in the business, had passed over Jon and picked Dave to run the company after Sol retired. Dave was simply better qualified. Even Jon recognized this. Sol didn't think so and this greatly upset him; he didn't like this up and coming executive Dave, and had in fact tried to eliminate him a couple of times already. Because the announcement had already been made as to Dave's future with the company, made clear by the HR director Sam, Sol did his very best to destroy Dave. Little did Sol know how close Dave and Jon had become.

Dave was so afraid of Sol that he went out of town during the time of a very important board meeting. He asked Jon to see if Sol had honored his promise to not try to get rid of him. So Jon went to the board meeting, explaining that Dave was absent due to some family business that he had to attend to. This was the test; if Sol was OK with this then Jon knew that Sol had kept his word to not try and destroy Dave. However, upon hearing the news Sol exploded. He accused Jon of siding with Dave over him, and even pointed out that this didn't make sense because Jon knew Dave would run the company after Sol retired.

Jon went out and met with Dave to give him the news. This greatly upset both of them, because they knew Dave would have to take a leave of absence until Sol had either calmed down or retired. Jon asked Dave to be kind to him and his family once Dave took over the company. Dave promised he would. Jon and Dave then parted company, each weeping over the knowledge that they may never see each other again.

They in fact never did see each other again. Sol and Jon were on a business trip together when they were killed. Dave mourned greatly over both of them.

After taking over the company, Dave looked for someone in Jon's family to show kindness to for the sake of Jon. He found Jon's handicapped son was around, so Dave adopted him, taking him into his own house.

See, Dave and Jon understood REALationship. They were givers, not takers. Sol, on the other hand, was a taker to the extreme.

Which of the characters in this story are you? Are you a Dave and Jon, or a Sol?

Which do you want to be?

The choice is yours, and yours alone.

Make the right choice so you can make a difference in someone's life today!

Friday, June 26, 2009

REALationships-Vital to Life

In these posts so far, we have defined what REALationships are and how to have one. They are an essential part of human existence, because we are designed to have them. We have seen that genuine REALationships are defined by interaction between people, and not merely interest or self satisfaction. They are based on commitment and trust, not love, though love is certainly a vital aspect of one and arises from the commitment made and the trust shared.

Life is made for relationship. Life without relationships has to be the greatest misery imaginable.

Think of those people who you know of that are grouches. You know, the ones no one wants to be around because they are miserable and desire greatly to "share" their misery with others. Are they the committing type, the trusting type? Generally, no. They WANT commitment. They WANT trust. They just don't want to GIVE it.

They prove what we saw earlier, that REALationships come from those who give more than they get. There is great satisfaction and joy in giving all you can. There is great dissatisfaction and misery in taking all you can.

If you are a giver, then I'd be willing to wager that the relationships you have are real, and you find joy and satisfaction in them.

If you are a taker, then I'd be willing to wager that you don't have any real relationships, any real friends in the world, and you are of all people the most miserable.

To have REALationships, and to give of your all to them, is life. It is truly living.

To have PSEUDOlationships, and take all you can, is merely existing.

Are you living, or existing? The choice ultimately is yours.

Which will you be, a giver or taker? Which do you want to be remembered as when you're gone?

I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in merely existing. I want to LIVE. I want to have life, and have it abundantly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

REALationship Made Real

In my last post I used a term-REALationship-that defines the difference between a relationship and an association. Knowing of someone is not a REALationship, knowing them is.

So how do you get to know someone?

It takes an investment of yourself. You are required to spend of yourself, and sometimes spend yourself, in order to make the commitment necessary to build the trust needed to have a REALationship. That defines a REALationship-commitment and trust.

Commitment is not a difficult thing to understand. It is often difficult to live. Commitment requires strength of will and mind. Commitment requires mercy and grace. Commitment is making the decision that regardless of the situation or the outcome, you will hang in there, you will be available. Commitment means enduring all that can and does come.

Trust is probably the most fragile aspect of a REALationship. Trust is often the last component of a REALationship added, and the first to fail. However, REALationships cannot exist without it. Trust requires that we put faith in someone. It is somewhat blind faith, at least in the beginning. Trust has to be earned, certainly; but it also has to be granted in order for it to grow. Like a muscle in the body, trust has to be regularly exercised and stretched or it atrophies, growing weaker and weaker until it fails.

Trust can fail and be rebuilt time and time again-as long as the commitment is maintained. Trust is the aspect of a REALationship that usually causes pain when it fails or is weakened. Commitment is the aspect of a REALationship that is its strength, that bears the load and works to heal the pain, which allows restoration of the REALationship and trust to be established again.

Commitment is the brick, and trust the mortar, that makes up any REALationship building. Just as with a masonry building, trust can crumble and be removed, repaired, and replaced while the rest of the building still stands, as long as those bricks of commitment are good and strong.

You'll notice I have not mentioned love at all. Love is certainly critical in a REALationship but not necessarily vital. To love before commitment and trust is there, is to not really love at all. It is infatuation; desire; attraction. This is why many PSEUDOlationships fail; they are built on something fleeting, something highly conditional. Commitment to a REALationship normally results in love. Love infrequently results in commitment. Love is indeed the icing on the cake in a REALationship, but commitment is everything neccesary in the process to get the cake to a place where it can be iced. Everyone wants the icing. Those who truly enjoy cake, want it all.

REALationships are truly life changing. When you have someone in your life that you are committing to; when that commitment grows into trust, enabling you to care more for their well being than your own; when you are at a point where they begin to consume your thoughts before you think of yourself; then you are at the doorstep of a REALationship.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What is a REALationship?

With relationships being as vital as they are in the human life, you would think we all would understand and know just what a real relationship is. Sadly, at least in my experience, this is far from true. How can it be so?

One reason is because we mistake other things for real relationship.

We often think that infatuation, or interest, or commonality, or position, defines real relationship. We think that as long as there is something environmental keeping us together then this is a real relationship. On the surface it's easy to see how many could assume such. After all, haven't we heard for most of our life that the first thing to do to begin a conversation is to establish something on which to base a conversation? So these relationships end up feeling hollow and fleeting.

Then there are those who see real relationship as one of usefulness. These relationships are maintained by one or both parties pleasing and serving the other for selfish reasons. In many, if not most, of these types of relationships, one party serves the other much more than they are served. Because of the need for relationship, some people will be practically enslaved by another just to seek fulfillment. Fulfillment, however, never comes. There is always a sense that something is wrong but you just can't seem to put your finger on the problem.

These "relationships" are anything but fulfilling.

So how do we recognize real relationship? Well, the dictionary defines it using words like connection; relation; interaction; reciprocation. These terms indicate that there is indeed commonality and service within real relationships, but these are only aspects of relationships, not the definition of relationships. Real relationships go deeper; much deeper.

Real relationships differ from what many believe they are in this way: real relationship is about selflessly serving OTHERS, not selfishly being served. Real relationship would be one in which I would serve you to meet your needs and wants, and in which I do this selflessly. You would also serve me in the same selfless way. Real relationship seeks the good of the one being related to. So real relationship is one in which giving is central, not getting.

In the real relationships that I enjoy, we try to outgive each other. There is GREAT JOY in this. These are the relationships that I cherish most. These are the people that I love the most.

These for me are realationships, not pseudolationships.

I dare you to try a realationship. It will change your life. It will change the lives of others.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!!! From my Dad's heart to yours

As this is Father's Day, I thought I'd pass on some lessons my Dad taught me. They have served me quite well in life, and I trust they will serve you well also.

  1. Relationships are reality; everything else is perception.
  2. Never miss an opportunity to hug someone and tell them that they are loved.
  3. Commitment is the brick, and faithfulness the mortar, that makes up the building of every relationship.
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
  5. One good practical joke deserves another.
  6. Sometimes, the only thing on TV worth watching is Looney Tunes.
  7. If Christ is not at the center of your life, then you are very hollow indeed.
  8. Discipline need not be violent, but it does need to be swift, firm, and sure.
  9. It's OK to have favorites, just don't play them too often.
  10. You don't need a lot of stuff to be extremely rich.
  11. It isn't true that true love never dies, for true Love died for you. And me.
  12. Patience is a hard lesson to learn, and a harder one to teach.
  13. When storms come, sit on the porch and watch them. There is wondrous beauty to be seen within a storm.
  14. Family is not defined by blood; it exists within your heart.
Thanks Dad.

I love you, and miss you.

Until we meet again in glory...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is it that REALLY matters?

Many over the years have mused as to exactly what our purpose in life is. Some have suggested that we are here with no purpose whatsoever. Others say we simply exist to enjoy life while we're here. Still others think that we are a blight on the earth, here only to use up and exhaust all of earth's resources.

I think we're here for each other.

I was just talking to the receptionist at my hair choppers. She lost her dad last year due to cancer. He was not very old; probably about my age, if not a bit older. Jennifer was blessed by the fact that as her dad came to the end of his life, he realized what many never do until they are in the same place. He did not wish he had spent more time at the office. In fact, he regretted the way he had been ever focused on and all consumed by his job. He was not bothered by having missed more opportunities to play and recreate. He wished-GREATLY- that he had invested his time in his family.

Jennifer went on to say that what was such a blessing for her in this unpleasantness was to learn this lesson at such a young age. Her life, though never again normal, is forever changed. Changed to the point that she now has a passion to work in a field where she can help others recognize the important while minimizing their focus on the unimportant.

Relationships. THAT is what really matters.

Spending time with and investing in those who love you, and those whom you love, is the greatest way imaginable to go through life. We desire and crave relationships because it is how we are designed. I can think of no misery greater than a life without love, and true love can only exist within relationships.

A life without love is no life at all; it is merely an existence.

Do not let this day end without letting those who love you, and those whom you love, know without any doubt that they are loved. Relationships are the spice of life, not variety. True relationships are what we all crave and value most in life. When all else fails; when everything and everyone abandons us; when life is falling apart all around us; it is those we are in true relationship with that are our strength, our song.

Sing the song of love to someone today. You'll never live to regret it. When the end of your life comes, you will have known that sweet joy of relationship, and it will be that very thing that you will be forever remembered for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Where to start?

This is a blog dedicated to the spiritual, Biblical, and life lessons that have been learned over my near-50 years of life on this earth. I trust any and all who visit here will find encouragement, hope, and comfort in these musings of my heart and mind.

And humor.

Life is not worth living if there is no laughter. The quotation "Live. Laugh. Love." is one I try to live by, and live, on a daily basis. I see myself as someone with a desire to leave people feeling better than they did when I arrived. Laughter is one way to accomplish this, and accomplish it quite easily.

As this blog develops, there's no telling where it will go or on what discussions it will focus. My prayer is that you, the reader, will find yourself here often because you discover value in what is posted. Value in what I post, certainly, but more than that value in discussions that will arise from the posts of who this blog is for:

YOU, the visitor and reader