A friend of mine told me a personal story that mimics some of the things I’m going through as I make my way to trading in my home, my state and my country for an overseas adventure. She remembers a time when she was planning to leave Texas to attend an art school in New York City. Her family members were not supportive of her move and questioned her wanting to leave. They seemed to think if she did not want the life they had chosen for themselves, then that must mean that she did not want them. They thought, because she imagined a life different from theirs, she couldn’t possibly accept their life. This caused great sadness for my friend.
In my own life I’m starting to gather a collection of these kinds of stories. There are not many people I know in Dallas, Texas who are trying to get rid of their “stuff”. Consumerism is at an all time high in this city, evidenced through church buildings, homes, shopping malls and automobiles. In fact, I’m not exempt from this tendency but am working hard to change my ways.
You’d never know there was a global economic crisis going on here. For some, this is comforting. For me, it turns my gut inside out as I observe indifference to the world’s concerns. Even so, there are fantastic people here. I have many friends and family members here and I’m grateful and fortunate to have them. However, I’ve found if I reject their values or the things they’ve chosen for their own life, some seem to interpret it as I am rejecting them personally. I find this so curious. After talking with another friend about this she offered another possible reason for this. Sometimes, when people are making changes in their life and going against the grain of conformity, those that know them well don’t applaud them for their efforts in changing the status quo because it reminds them of what they did not do in their own life. For some, this philosophy seems to exist: If you like me, then you will be like me. My blogger mentor, Chris Guillebeau, wrote an article that really hit home with me about the love of friends. He says, “Some of the people you expect to be your biggest supporters will disappoint you—and some of the people you rarely thought about, or didn’t even know existed, will turn out to be your true friends.” You can find his entire article here.
This week will you think about this with me? We don’t own anyone. We are all uniquely made. People are given to us for a given amount of time and we have to hold those relationships loosely. When I was a young child, I remember being upset that a friend, who I adored, had abandoned me. I remember being outside and my mom grabbed a handful of warm sand from the sandbox. The fingers of her hand were loosely holding the sand when she said something like this, “Friends have to be held loosely. If you hold them tightly, they will run away.” As she said this, she began squeezing the sand and it freely ran out, between her fingers.
We don’t have the right to demand relationships. People drift in and sometimes, out of our lives; sometimes for a season, other times for a lifetime. People, while we know them, are a gift to us. They can teach us and enrich our life. Be grateful for those you love. Tell them you love them and applaud their successes. Encourage them to press on and be there if they change their mind and go off in a new direction.