Sometimes we need to take the time to access our relationships. As time goes by we may find that we have substituted new relationships and foregone old relationships. We may also find that the value of those foregone relationships were worth more to us than we realized. While all relationships may be impactful, some negative, I choose to focus on the positive for this blog entry.
What does it mean to be impactful? I’m referring to the actions or words that have had a major effect on our lives, our character, and perhaps even our worldview. Does that bring a list of people to mind? I am so grateful for those people who have had a positive impact in my life. The ones who encouraged me to follow my dreams. The ones who saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. The ones who blocked my path to self-destruction. The ones who spoke wisdom, when foolishness was all around me, and especially those who taught me that I could have an impact on the next generation as a vocation.
Recently, I was in contact with a childhood friend. We became friends in Junior High School many years ago. At some point in our lives, we stop being just friends and became family. After our conversation on the phone, I began to reflect on the impact she and her family had on my life. Her brother adopted me as his little sister and watch out for me. Her mother treated me like one of her own daughters. My friend accepted me and the dysfunctional awkwardness of my own family structure. From her family I learned so many things about being a confident young woman. Years later, my friend was the maid of honor in my wedding. Although we live far apart, we continue to stay in touch.
In reality I can trace impactful relationships among teachers, neighbors, roommates, sorority sisters, church members, co-workers, employers, my in-laws, and my relatives. Some people bring goodness to your life just by being there, and being themselves: people who are good listeners; people who empathize; people who extend a helping hand; people who deposit wisdom from their own experiences; people who share their life stories, triumphs and failures. These people help you become the best you can be because they impact how you process the circumstances of your life. They impact your perspective, and your outlook without really meaning to; they are just being who they are. These are the type of people that leave the world better than they found it, because they care about others, and are not afraid to touch their lives.
After talking to my friend the other day, I had to ask myself if I am positively impactful in my relationships. Am I taking the time to be an active listener? Am I truly present with others or am I distracted by my phone, my own thoughts, or other relationships? Do I share my experiences, my abilities, my minor or major expertise (depending on how you look at it)? Do others smile when they think of time spent with me, or do they wish I wouldn’t bother to show up as often as I do? We have an opportunity not only to evaluate our present relationships for their impact in our lives, we can also evaluate our impact on others. It’s tied to legacy. (See A Living Epitaph from 10/21/21.)
Relationships are impactful, and the ones that are positive in their impact are worth keeping for years and years. I am so thankful that my relationship with my friend has stood the test of time. I am also happy for the new relationships that keep me active and relevant. How about you? When you evaluate your relationships do you realize the gems? Truly impactful relationships are a treasure.