Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
― James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I have my own office at work now. It’s a pretty nice office. It has a window to see outside and a door that can shut out all noise and distraction. I can keep it neat and tidy to my heart’s content. I’ve set up things to be as efficient as possible. My office is off the beaten path, though, at the end of a hall that only my closest office neighbors ever walk by.
Before the beginning of the year, my role was primarily to support others. I had more than enough opportunity to interact with people on a daily basis. After the beginning of the year, my role changed and I discovered that I had to be much more intentional about making time for others. Coworkers had less reason to actively seek me. Maybe even reason to avoid me because I usually came bearing another request or task! But to fulfill my new role I had to get out of my forest – my comfort zone in my office – and go to them.
RELATIONSHIPS REQUIRE WORK
Friendship is an area I have struggled with from the moment I realized that relationships were difficult, life was messy, and “alone” generally meant peace, efficiency, and freedom. As an introvert, I seek out quiet time to read or, more accurately, to organize my reading materials. And yet, I have an intense desire to belong. I feel jealous when I see a close groups of friends that have been together since their early days.
Work is not the enemy or the opposite of friendship. It is possible though, that the product or results of work can be mis-prioritized as the most important thing. If you’re an achiever, you really like to accomplish things. You love to check things off the list and then go for more. You love to find ways to be more efficient so you can achieve even more.
But relationships are not checklist material. Relationships cannot be handled with efficiency. In fact, if we’re talking about enemies, efficiency is a hostile environment for relationships.
Time is not the only thing that relationships need, but it is vital to the success of friendship. And for us to give time to friendship, we must take time from somewhere else. That time may need to come from work time. Or “productive” time. Or “quiet, leave me alone” time.
LOVE = AVAILABILITY
Bob Goff talks about how love is communicated through availability. Love is more than a feeling. It requires action, which means it requires time. And it usually has it’s own timeline, which means we need to remain available for when opportunity comes knocking.
In one sense, friendship is like icing. It turns that boring muffin life into a cupcake. But honestly, friendship is not as dispensable as icing. It is more integral to a whole life. It’s foundational. And it is fragile – just like family, health, and integrity. It takes a lot of effort to create and maintain. But it adds so much value to life.
Do you need to give some attention to friendships?
Question: What value have you seen in maintaining friendships even when it is difficult? You can leave a comment by clicking here.