If August has a theme for me, it is relationships. For a variety of reasons, I cannot stop thinking about the building and tearing down of relationships, healthy relationships versus unhealthy ones, and, most often, how to enjoy and enhance the relationships I value. I have a tendency to complicate relatively simple ideas, concepts, and actions. It’s a byproduct of living in my head so much. Rather than over-complicating the process of becoming better at living and loving in relationships with others, I’ve boiled all my hours of thoughts into a few simple ideas. I believe that desire for more worthwhile conversations, stronger communities, and deeper friendships can be attained by intentionally practicing the following:
- Act on every kind impulse. Authentic community and nourishing friendships cannot exist without kindness.
- Show up and be present. The thought of being present doesn’t actually count as much as I tell myself it does. It is actual presence (whether in person, over the phone, or in written correspondence) that builds and feeds relationships.
- Make room in my schedule for retreat. Retreating from the world energizes me, which in turn gives me the energy to show up and be present.
- Truly listen to the stories of others and honor their journey. Everyone wants and needs someone who listens to them.
- Love deeply. Think about what loving someone means and then act accordingly.
- Focus on what is important, rather than on just what is urgent. They are not the same thing.
In his book Road to Daybreak, Henri Nouwen writes, “It is so easy to let what needs to be done take priority over what needs to be lived.” Tasks and to-do lists are a normal part of each of our lives, but I want to live beyond them. I want to live in my relationships, and the events of August thus far seem to be teaching me how to do just that.