Relationships – Step 1

I am present.

If someone listens, or stretches out a hand or whispers a word of encouragement, or attempts to Growing Up Is Hard Workunderstand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.  ~ Loretta Firzaris

This post marks the beginning of moving into a new area of explorations – relationships.  How we show up in this world is a result of our relationships, starting with that foundational relationship with family.

I was on my way to church when it dawned on me it was Father’s Day AND to top it off it was also my deceased father’s birthday.  By now you know that I have father issues, so I was not optimistic about what the sermon would include.  In fact, I was dreading it.

When the speaker for the day, Jessica Hasseltine, got up and started telling a story about her dad and how they connected over watching hockey, I started to tune out.  But then she caught my interest by saying that she and her dad had never really gotten along.  I could relate.  In her story, she loved hockey and that was about the only sport her father did not enjoy.  She began telling about a time when she was visiting her parents and watching hockey.  Her father began making negative comments about the players, so Jessica began tweeting these snide remarks to her hockey friends.  As she did this, her team began winning, which broke a long-running losing streak.

That was only one night, but over the next few weeks, she started seeing a pattern of her team winning only when she and her father were watching the same game and communicating.  So even when they were not together, she made a point of calling him and talking to him while they both watched the game.

During one game, after this had become a serious commitment to one another – to watch the same game and keep up conversation at the same time – disaster struck.  Jessica lost TV reception.  She was in Lubbock, and he was in Abilene.  So what did her dad do?  He assembled a ladder in front of his television and set up a laptop on the ladder with the camera focused on the screen, so Jessica could see the game from his set via Skype.  Now that is fatherly love.  This experience gave Jessica an opportunity to see the love that had always been there displayed in tangible terms.   Plus, she had developed enough maturity to see what she could not see as a child.

Jessica went on to say that there are five key elements to recognize in a really great relationship, which she tied to the story about her day enabling her to see her team play hocke while she and her dad communicated.  They are:

  1. The other person receives joy by seeing me experience happiness.
  2. I get joy out of seeing them experience happiness.
  3. The other person offers support and advice.
  4. I accept support and advice from the other person.
  5. We have a forever connection.

Then she added that there are three steps to building a permanent connection.  First, the other person has to be open to it.  As much as I may want the experience, if the other person is not willing to invest in it, it’s not going to happen.   Next, I have to be open to it as well.  And finally, it has to be the right place and the right time.  Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that prohibit a relationship from continuing, either one of the people moves away or life events get in the way like job changes or marital status.  Even when those things happen, if both people are willing to maintain the relationship, they will.  This ongoing connection requites a degree of trust that this connection is not going away.  Jessica advised the group to let people know that you are there for them.

She concluded her talk by saying that even though you may not have this great relationship with your biological father, you can develop it with others.  I liked her perspective, and I can see great potential for using these basic concepts to enhance my current friendships and connections – whether they are “permanent” through family or permanent by choice.

I accept relationship as my primary teacher about myself, other people, and the mysteries of the universe. ~ Gay Hendricks

How do I show up in relation to myself and others?  How does how I treat myself and others relate to my core beliefs about what I deserve and what I am worthy of receiving?

 When you make a commitment to a relationship, you invest your attention and energy in it more profoundly because you now experience ownership of that relationship.  ~ Barbara De Angelis

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