Stepping In - First and Well
By far, one of the most powerful realizations that I have had in my lifetime, is the idea that the relationships we have are separate entities. Like different rooms in the same house, relationships are spaces that we step into, each with their own function, look, and feel. Taken as a whole, this “house” is the place where life is lived out with all of who we are, in relation to the others we encounter.
When I step into any given relationship, I bring who I am into that space. Functionally, I may be expected to do or say different things. But how I do those things – my intentions and feelings surrounding those tasks – are still with me in each space, affecting how I act. How I feel about these tasks influences how I perform; and how I perform, affects the essence of the room. I could pretend for a while, and perhaps that works for the moment. But it never fails: who I am eventually shows up!
Being aware of what “rooms” we are stepping into and the function of those rooms in our lives is important; as well as being cognizant of what I am bringing into that relational space when I show up.
Friendships are usually formed organically, through shared experiences, environments, and opportunities. But over my lifetime, the sweetest and most fulfilling friendships are the ones where investments are intentionally made. Both people engage in intentional connection, for the benefit and health of the larger entity: friendship itself and the sweetness it provides to our lives.
Often, I hear women lament that they have a lot of friends, but they don’t feel as if they have “true” friends. They use words like: real, authentic, deep, meaningful, and encouraging. Most times, my response to this unfulfilled desire is: “Can you be that? Maybe you should take that first step in the relationships that you do have, and see what comes of it.”
Too many times, we approach friendships with the desire that we would be accepted or liked, or that we could feel seen and heard. But, how many times do we enter relationships with the express intention to accept someone else? To purposefully decide that we want to see them and hear their story. Do we enter that “room” with the intention to BE a friend – not just to find a friend?
See the difference? One approach has our personal comfort and acceptance as the goal, while the other approach means that we have decided to meet someone else with acceptance and to bring into the relational space, the comfort we ourselves desire.
It usually requires an intentional decision to live by the Golden Rule, to treat another person as we want to be treated. To love them as we love ourselves. To step into the “room” of that relationship, and to use who we are to love another person well…and first. First to take the step in. The first to encourage and listen and help. The first to be truly interested and to give time and energy and space for someone else’s benefit.
This is the friendship that Christ showed us: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Ultimately, we are able to love because we have been loved so well.
The function of a room is usually dependent upon how we act and what we do within the room. By loving first and fully, we can shape the culture in that space - the functionality and the flow of how we relate to one another. When we “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16) and follow His lead, we are able to love others well. With time and compassion, we may influence the relational spaces so that we can step into deeper, more meaningful friendships with those around us.