We all have them. Some are wonderful, others are not that great. Some are close and some are distant.
I find people interesting; and sometimes intimidating because of how introverted I am. It’s a lot easier for me to write an email to someone than talk on the phone. Because of this, I have had drama in my life. Miscommunications. Hurt feelings. Messes to clean up. You’d think I’d learn. Speaking to people face to face is the best way to communicate. And that takes time. Time is precious.
But then again, we spend time doing whatever we feel is important.
Over the past few weeks I have been led to take inventory of my time, my relationships, and my priorities. I’m not really all that pleased with what I am finding.
I desire to be a good friend to people. Someone who can be counted on for unconditional help, integrity, and love. But what I desire and what I do are two different things. So I have been reading the scriptures, talking with God, and evaluating myself. I’m finding that there are some practical behaviors and actions I can do to help me improve the relationships I have with those around me. Maybe you, my Readers, would like to try some of these as well. I will warn you though. The last few weeks for me have not been easy spiritually. I’ve been going through some heart battles.
10. Treat people like they are family. Paul states in 1 Timothy 5: “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Families can be quirky, dysfunctional, and absolutely wonderful! When I am with my family I know that I will be accepted no matter what stupid thing I say or what I do. We accept each others’ failures and we rejoice in each others’ blessings. I need to do the same with those I come in contact with. I need to be slow to anger and quick to edify.
9. Practice hospitality even if the house does not look like Martha Stewart’s. I’m not saying I’m going to leave the toys and clothes out all over the living room. I’ll tidy up and wash down the counters, but the floors will probably only be swept and not mopped. And don’t look too close at furniture because there is going to be dust. I love to have people over! This past week we had a couple over for dessert and it was such a fun time. It took 2 hours, the kids were in bed, and my husband and I had a nice evening with other adults. Being a friend means spending time, even just a few hours, to make friendships work.
8. Be generous. The scriptures tell me that everything I own belongs to God. So if all of my possessions and money belong to Him, then I can use it, and should use it, to serve others. This does not mean be unwise and give away what we need to take care of the family. On the contrary, anything given away should be after the 10% tithe and after family needs and bills are paid (unless God specifically says otherwise). So if I have $100 free spending money per month and I see someone with a need, then I should be generous in my giving of a proper amount. Just giving isn’t enough though. I must make sure that I am giving with joy, and not a grumbling attitude.
7. Sometimes your presence is enough. There are times when just showing up to something is the best thing one can do for a friendship. Whenever I am invited to anything, baby shower, wedding shower, jewelry party, etc, I try to go. Sometimes I can’t, but I figure, if someone thinks enough of me to invite me, then I should think enough of them to go.
6. Be “all there.” This is a hard one for me. My mind likes to wander into a million different directions, but when I am with my family, or with a friend, then I need to give 100% of my attention to them. No Facebook. No email. No phone. No video games. I need to turn on my listening ears and pay attention. Not just with my mind, but with my heart.
5. Pray for the difficult people in your life. It’s hard to stay upset with someone when you are asking God to shower him or her with blessings. Try it. This has changed my attitude toward some people.
4. Serve others. No one likes to be in a place of humility, yet putting others first is commanded in the scriptures. When I hear of a need, then I must be willing to see if there is anything I can do to meet that need. This could mean driving out of the way, changing my schedule, giving up something, or sacrificing my time. This is a hard one for me. I battle my pride constantly, but in the end it comes down to my will versus God’s. And then I have to choose.
3. Smile. People enjoy being around happy people! But life isn’t happy all the time. So this means I need to learn what Paul means in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say, rejoice!” Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. If I am walking in the Spirit, then I should be tapped into the joy of the Spirit. If I have lost my joy, then I need to search my heart, figure out what happened, and ask the Lord to help me “get my joy back.”
2. Be Bold. Don’t wait for people to come to you. I want to do better at walking up to people, speaking to them, asking them how things are going, and reading them to see if there is a need I can meet. Perhaps it is just a smile and a hug that I can give, but at least that person knows I care enough to walk up to them and take five minutes to see how they really are doing. This is SO hard for me!! I’m afraid people be will inconvenienced by me, or I’ll say the wrong thing…but I think this may be a lie I have been telling myself for years. I need to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power and love.
1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This simple Truth is complex in action. These words have become profound to me over the past few months. I have begun to actually picture myself in the “other person’s shoes.” Then I ask myself, “How would I want people to respond and/or react to me?” I ponder and pray. And then when God begins to reveal His will, it is magnificent! Ideas pop into my head that I never would have thought. The love for that person becomes stronger.
I have not perfected these 10 strategies. I have a ways to go! But I will say that, so far, reactions to the actions I have done are not necessarily what I envision. One time I was greatly blessed by a young lady in return for something I did. But most of the time I haven’t received a reaction from the person. And that’s hard because feedback is a good thing. But that is when I rest in the loving embrace of my Almighty Father knowing I was obedient to Him and that my treasures are in heaven.
And THAT is what matters the most.