Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Friend or resource?

"Who would you like to get "accidentally" stuck on an island with?"

"Would you lie to someone to make them happy?"

The occasionally humorous, extremely random questions flew by on the "Social Interview" application on Facebook.

Then I saw one that made me think:
"Who would you call if you needed to be bailed out of jail?" Immediately a face flashed before my eyes. But then I thought about it, and thought, "When was the last time I spoke to this person?" And I realized, I haven't spoken to this person in MONTHS, but THAT is the person I'd want to pull through for me?! YIKES!

I do it. You do it. We all do it.
We all have people in our mental "corner". That one guy who is really good at fixing cars, the guy who can fix any computer problem, the awkward (but filthy rich) kid, the nerd from school who can help you with your Calc homework, or that crazy aunt that you keep close because of the large checks she sends you every birthday. We tend to subconsciously keep mental notes on people, ICE (In Case of Emergency). The majority of the time, I don't think this is done maliciously, but rather subconsciously.

Yes, we all have been endowed with certain gifts and talents in certain areas, BUT, I do not believe that these gifts and/or talents are something to be exploited.

It's happened to me before...
I'm sitting there, merrily going about my work, when all of the sudden the phone rings.
It's "Mary" who I haven't heard from in over a year.

When these calls come in I'm immediately skeptical, no matter how long the pleasantries go on at the beginning of the conversation, I just KNOW that it's coming.

"Andrew! How are ya hun?! It's been forever!
How's the fam? Everyone doing well?
How's school going? Still gonna be a cop?
Fun Fun...
So uhm listen! I was at my computer today, and all of the sudden it went blank, and blah blah blah blah......"

A part of me is like "REALLY?
I'd rather have you call and cut straight to the point, and not waste my time. You know what you are really calling for....."

I mean, I'm ALL for helping people out, and doing everything I can do be there for people, but sometimes you still feel a twinge of "they only called because they NEED something"

I have a friend who recently came to me with a problem like this.
For privacy reasons, we're gonna say "Jack" is really good at "fixing cars".
He came to me pretty upset one day.
He said:
"I saw a 'friend' of mine at a party the other day, and I tried talking to him, and he blew me off. Acted like I didn't exist. Well sure enough, two days later, my 'friend's' car breaks down. Guess who's on speed dial then? Yea, ME! Guess what? Magically I exist again! AND, because he is my 'friend', he thinks he's entitled to my 'friend discount'!"

Jack's story troubled me, but also made me think, and ask myself "Who do I have in my life that doesn't 'exist' until I need them? Who do I call a "friend" when it's convenient, or 'cool', but blow off when they are not needed?"

I realized that I had some work to do. I have some people in my life that I need to value for WHO THEY ARE, and not just for WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR ME.

I had to reassess a lot of my friendships with people, then pick up the phone and shoot out some texts and make some calls. The last thing I want to do is to be a "leech".

I want to challenge you to look at your life right now. Who are some of those "friends" who are really just "resources" to you?

In every relationship, we have what is called an "emotional bank account". We make "deposits" into this account through time spent with a person, through kind things we do, nice words we say, etc.
But we can make "withdrawals" through rude words, mean actions, and by "using" a person only for what they can give to you.
You never want to "overdraw" on your emotional bank account with a person. The results can be devastating to any relationship.

So, take a step back. Think about those whom you call "friends", and ask yourself "how do I treat this person?".
Maybe it's time to shoot someone a text, or phone some old friends, but for once, don't make contact with the attitude of "What can I get from you?", take on the attitude of "What can I DO FOR YOU? How can I be a blessing?" It may be as simple as just asking how the person is doing. NO ulterior motives, no other reasons.

It shows that person that you care about who THEY are, not only what they can do for you.

This made me think. I hope it does the same for you.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Who is important here?" and other interesting questions.

In the dim light of a fancy restaurant, I sit, enjoying a wonderful meal. I look over, and see a cute couple, early twenties, dressed fairly well, their faces illuminated by the single candle in the middle of the table. All of the sudden, I see a weird glow on her face, followed by one on his face. Upon closer observance, I realized that they were both on their cell phones. While they were engaging in occasional small talk with each other, they both seemed to be a lot more interested in the person with whom they were communicating via mobile device.

I sat and watched them for a while, and it seemed like perhaps 75-90% of the time, they were staring at that little rectangular portal to the outside world. It was starting to really bother me. "Why would you come to this incredible restaurant, pay a ton of money for this meal, have a beautiful person sitting across from you, and then sit there and text the entire night?"

I started getting angry, but then I decided to take a more introspective look into the problem that I was seeing. I had to ask myself: "do I do the same thing sometimes in different situations?" I know for a fact that I am guilty as charged. I've been in plenty of situations where I've been with REAL people, yet I choose to sit there, and contentedly peck away at my iPhone, talking with who KNOWS who, usually about small and mundane things.

I believe that this is something that everyone has experienced. You're in a conversation with someone at a gathering, and you are sharing something, and all of the sudden the hand goes for the pocket. They look at the phone, and start composing a reply. Their head nods, and you hear the occasional "mmhmm" as if they were saying "Oh I'm still listening" But you know where their attention REALLY is. It can be somewhat belittling, because essentially, the person is saying, "what this other person is talking to me about is more important than what you have to say".. OUCH!

We live in and interesting day and time, in which our "worlds" have become more and more digital. But I would challenge each and every one of you to not forget the art of true conversation. I think it is something that has been slowing fading away.

If you ever go out to eat with my Grandpa Norm, you better believe that by the time you leave the restaurant, he is going to know the first name, occupation, and favorite baseball team of just about everyone within a 20 foot radius of your table, just by making "small talk". You'll never see him sitting alone at a table, pecking away at a mobile device.

I believe the art of "small talk" has been largely lost in our generation. But those who know how to truly communicate and network with people will go far in life.

This is why I would like to make a challenge, to each and every person reading this. Next time you are with someone, and you feel that familiar vibration in your pocket, ask yourself, "Who is important here? Is it the people I am physically with? Or is it this person who I am texting?" Even if what you are saying via text is "important" Are you considering the preciousness of the person you are with by spending all of your time on the phone?

Well like it says in 1 Timothy 1:15 "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save inconsiderate texters; of whom I am chief." AT (Andrew's Translation) ;)
I'm probably the worst at doing this. But I think it is something that each and every one of us could look at in our lives. Just ask yourself, "How can I show the people that I am with that I truly care about them?" "What decisions and changes can I make to make them feel more important."

Even though our society has only become more and more self-centered, I believe that we are called to be different. To be a light.

So next time you have the urge to be an "inconsiderate texter" think twice about it. Maybe, just MAYBE, you can put that message off till later. It doesn't matter if they are talking about the most boring and mundane subject in the world. What can YOU do to make them feel important and loved?

Thanks for reading!