Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Evaluating Relationships

I've been thinking a lot lately about the people in my life. It seems like no matter how hard I try, I can't keep up with all the relationships I'd like to. Over the past few months, I've been trying to determine why certain people are part of it, why others aren't, and how it has shaped who I am versus who I was six months, a year, five years ago.

When I was in high school, I didn't have a young adult mentor or any positive adult influences in my life outside of my family. I didn't go to church youth group because no one from Waukee really went to Hope (can you believe that!!). My biggest influences were my peers and the media. While I was fortunate to have a pretty solid group of friends who stayed away from the drugs, drinking, and partying, I still made a few poor choices, as we all do, due to the activities my friends were engaged in. While many people probably thought of me as a leader (good grades, pageants, singing success, etc.), I was a follower through-and-through.

Now fast-forward a decade (YIKES!). The picture looks different, but I think the pattern is still there. I'm a people-pleaser, and I have this crazy need to "help" people. But what I've begun to see is that in my quest to "help" people, be there for people, influence people positively, I've neglected to surround myself with people who do all those things for me. As a result I've become bogged down, worn out, and poorly-influenced by all the muck. At some point, "helping" people starts to hurt who you are if you don't counter it with people who do for you what you are trying to do for others.

Sometimes, it even causes me to let certain people walk all over me. My ideas/activities/thoughts change with the relationships I am building. But instead of changing who I am for other people, the relationships I have should simply spur me to be a better version of who I was created to be. This is true, whether you are a leader or a follower, or both.

I know we all like to think we have things figured out. We know who we are, we have our beliefs, or values, our convictions. But where did we get those? Wasn't it from the influence of other people? 

I've found this to be more true than anything else when it comes to relationships: the way we think/act/behave/become is a direct result of the company we keep. Good or bad. 

It doesn't matter if it's a casual friendship, a new dating partner, a childhood friend, or a long-time marriage....both people in any relationship should add to each others' lives, positively influence each other, and make time for the other person. If any of those things aren't happening on the other person's end, they aren't going to just all of a sudden change (at least not long-term). If they aren't happening on your end, then it's time to step up, or determine that the season for that friendship/relationship has come to an end. Don't let yourself be dragged down by someone, don't change for someone, who isn't adding to your life. Just the same, don't hang on to people who you feel add value to your life if you aren't willing to add to theirs Relationship is a two-way street, and being influenced negatively, even if it seems harmless, can cause you to look in the mirror one day and wonder who is looking back at you.

So while I'm trying to make more time for the people in my life who steer me and encourage me to be better/do better, whose life directions build me up,  and who really WANT to be there, I will challenge you to ask yourself these questions: 

Who is influencing your life the most? Have you been a better version of yourself since that person/those people started influencing you?

Are you sugar-coating an unhealthy or stagnant friendship out of fear?

How can you surround yourself in good relationships?

If you have impacted me positively, I hope you know who you are, and I hope you know I'm grateful :)


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