Tuesday, January 1, 2013

4 Ways to Radically Change your Relationships in 2013:

Luke 10:27
"He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

I've noticed something pretty disconcerting.  I'm not as focused as I used to be on the things that matter most.

Surrounded by cell phones, technology, noise, and social media- sometimes it's easier to get distracted by what's going on "out there" rather than to stay focused on the here and now.  In a culture that seems so wrapped up in self-gratification and promotion, it's been easy to place my focus on myself and totally forget about my neighbor, my friends, my family.  The people that mean the most to me.    

I'm challenged as I enter into this new year, to get my focus back on where it belongs- loving God and loving others. There's nothing on earth more meaningful than that. I think I've begun to lose sight of that goal somewhere along the way.  I've been contemplating of how to bring back my focus.  Not just to hope for it, but to actually do it.  It's time for a change in my relational world.  Here are some ways I hope to get my heart back on track:

1.  Talk Less, Listen more:  I don't know about you, but I've found myself at times falling into the trap of the "Facebook mentality".  What I mean by that is an attitude that is all about self-promotion.  Putting yourself on display for all to see.  I've found that attitude slowly seeping into my relationship.  The symptoms are subtle, but they are dangerous.  It's an attitude that seeks to talk more than it seeks to listen, that longs to be known more than it longs to know.  This has been the downfall of some of my relationships this year, and I want to be deliberate about changing that.  I want to learn to be a person that talks less, and listens more.  A person that is interested in the people around me, more than interested in their interest in me.  I want to be "others-focused", and I believe that starts with letting them take the spotlight.   

2.  Ask more Questions:  I have a friend who asks a lot of questions.  I mean, tons.  When she connects with someone, she wants to know everything about them, what they've been up to, and what they are passionate about.  Talking to her almost feels like being interviewed on Oprah.  Now, though I think that can be a little much at times, I think she is really onto something.  Her heart is in the right place because it is others-focused.  She wants to ask questions because she wants to know people.  I want to do that to.  I want to make others feel important, and do my part in getting to know them.  I want to ask more questions this year, and be sure to hear the answers.   

3.  Offer encouragement:  I must admit, this is one that I really want to get better at.  It's not natural for me to offer encouragement, because it's not something that I grew up with consistently.  Our family was one that spoke through actions, not necessarily with words.  But you know, words are so important, and they are an important part of loving and being loved.  They nourish, strengthen, and grow relationships faster than many other things can.  Encouragement takes you out of self-centeredness and into a life that is fixed on others.  Find something valuable in someone, and then tell them about it.  God promises that those who seek to bless others will find that they are the ones who are ultimately blessed. 

4.  Stay in the moment:  I got an email from a young women who was telling me about a gathering she had experienced at which every single person was occupied by their phones.  Texting, tweeting, googling and instagram-ing...there was always something to check, someone to update, or some information to find out.  It's hard to live in the moment in a society that is calling us out of the moment.  In a culture that has created for us a "matrix-like" world, filled with false connection, false intimacy, and false pride.  In a world where we gain power by a click of a button.  But in exchange for this false sense of control, glory, and value...we are missing the present.  We are missing the moment.  We are distracted by things that have not earned our attention, while surrounded by people who are deserving of our it. Our families, our spouses, our children, our friends.  Our neighbors, our communities, and even the strangers that may come our way.  Sacred moments...have become secondary.  It's time to take these moments back.  It's time to enjoy them, savor them, and experience them.  It's time to live in the moment. 

A new year brings new opportunities.  New chances to connect, to love, and to focus.  New moments to learn how to live fully, and love practically. 

Here's to 2013.  May it be the best year our relationships have ever seen! 


  1. Good thoughts here. I definitely like the "Offer Encouragement" part. I too come from a family where we were more action than words. But I know I love when someone encourages/compliments me. I've told myself in the past I'd do it more, but plan to do it this year.
    Sometimes I hesitate to do it because it feels awkward (since I don't do it regularly) or feel it may come off as insincere. But that's cynical side of me, overthinking things. God says pleasant words are sweet to the soul. I guess I should listen to Him instead of the cynic in me.

  2. Kevin, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your desire to encourage others, and the struggle to do so when it's not something you grew up with. I hope this year comes with new courage and opportunities to do so, and that you are blessed in return. Please let me know how this pursuit goes this year...keep me posted. Blessings!


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