Thursday, January 20, 2011

Relationships and Their Ups and Downs

William James* once said, "Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude." Forget conflict, isn't everything better when your attitude is in check? On most days my attitude longs to be different. Then, when striving to be different with people, some of those people aren't willing to let that change or deepening happen. It's a constant battle of me wanting to be better and others putting me down for wanting to be that change.

On most days I kid that if you have nothing nice to say come sit by me.** I love to have a good time, and kid around. I have a sarcastic sense of self. Whether trying to meet new people and forging new bonds or repairing or deepening those that are already in place seem to be a challenge. I can make all the changes I want to in me, but if others aren't willing to let those changes come to fruition and let the relationship move beyond and into what it could be, I'm still stuck.

Take for instance, during my crossing guard duty I have some of the nicest moms come through. They are always nice and wanting to have some conversation. No matter how short it might be. I even have people drive through who aren't dropping kids off and they wave! There are other moms that come through and it's as if I need to roll out a red carpet for them. They're still back in high school thumbing their noses at the chick who's working the corner. To give me the time of day would be against their religion. Whatever. 

When we first started attending a certain church I thought to myself, "Let's try and invite people over for conversation and get to know each other". I was going to break out of my shell and try to be social. So we did. I love having people over. Hospitality is probably my only spiritual gift, but hey, it's a gift. We invited lots of people over a few different times. I thought a good time was had by all but it was never reciprocated. Either we were geographically undesirable or personality wise undesirable. I don't know. That's here nor there. Sometimes I like to invite people over for no reason. Just to spend time with them. But, after so many "no"'s I just quit asking. I can take a hint.

What to do? Go ahead and put the walls back up? Then again, walls are no fun when they're put up in my face from others. It's almost exhausting with how many walls there are to keep up with. I don't want to give up hope that people will one day be more receptive, but alas, I can't force them to feel something they aren't ever going to feel. 

I'm not sure what my goal is to change things or if they can be changed. Is it just life or our fate that determines how many or how few people we get close to? Is it parental upbringing or social status, life experiences or political/religious views? It's out of my control and out of my hands.

I have to give it up to Him. I have to keep making the changes in my life that lift Him up. I don't think I've lost hope just yet. 

*American philosopher and psychologist
** Steel Magnolias has some of the best movie quotes of all time


  1. I think it really is true that a person can only have a handful of good friends, of truly meaningful relationships. We saw in the video yesterday that oje can have 4 friends, not 562. While your mileage may vary, the point is well taken. Even Jesus only had 12 men He called friend while here on Earth. We are blessed with some VERY good friends, and I am thankful for that.

    Having said that, I agree that the cliques adults form and the walls they put up are worse that anything we dealt with in high school. They are exhausting, and I don't have time to deal with them. To follow Jesus' advice again, there comes a time to shake the dust off your feet and leave. Our time is at hand.

  2. Great! Thanks, Craig. I was hoping the cliques went away as I got older! Can't wait to grow up... haha