“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” (Eccl 4: 9-10)

 

In a world that exalts achievement as king, relationships are vastly undervalued. Our culture encourages us to mindlessly sacrifice that which would give us joy by grinding for a little bit more. The close people in our lives are what give meaning. I find it fascinating that in the Garden of Eden, amidst all of the perfection of the “good” creation of God, He specified that it was “not good” to be alone.

Relationships do not come naturally in these times of obsessive digital communication. How many times have we ignored the person in front of us for the random people on our social media feed? I am guilty far too often of digital distraction in lieu of human interaction. Why do I find it so hard to wait a few minutes to glance at that incoming notification or delay briefly that response to the text?

Getting to know someone deeply and becoming vulnerable and honest with another person is a lost art. Overwhelmed schedules make finding time for unrushed lingering almost impossible. We are caught in a rushing current of speed and excess that is choking the life out of friendship and intimacy and undivided attention. Only the person who sets a high priority on relationships will avoid the pitfall of shallow connection that defines our times.

 If you find that the relationships in your life are not what you want, then begin today by asking someone to lunch or dinner. Push through the awkwardness and start a new path. As an introvert, I decided decades ago to push out of my comfort zone and reach out to several people to build deep relationships. My life is indescribably richer because of that choice. For extroverts, the decision may be to risk going deeper with the many relationships that fill your day. We all need to push beyond our comfort zones. Our joy depends on it.

If you have great relationships, then thank God and treasure those special gifts. Never take them for granted. The time will come when achievements and dollars will feel paper-thin, and the people you have invested in will count like gold.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to give special focus to the people you love. Around the table, we can choose ways to connect more deeply, even if our normal patterns are small talk. This long weekend is an opportunity to text or email or call, and let our friends know how much they mean to us. Decide one specific way you will elevate people as the priority of these days ahead. God loves it when we love others. Then, as we head into the Christmas season, continue to give priority to caring for those around you. When the world around us is rushing to close out the year and becoming stressed by the demands of the season, we can decide to value what God values, the people in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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