Our relationships define us. Every person we interact with from our mom to our friends to our barista, relationships are the core foundation of who we are. We are relational people at heart. Even when we want to be alone, our solitude never lasts long. We like to be alone, but we don’t like to be lonely – we need the presence of others in our lives.
It’s a great feeling when you can look at someone and see parts of yourself in them and find comfort in the fact that they too are facing the same trials as you. It's when you’ve found a person that you can say, “what, you too? I thought I was the only one” to. It’s the feeling of familiarity, of coming home after a long day and settling into your bed sheets; that’s what other people should be to us. Other people should be our support, our restful embrace, that look of affirmation, when you know everything will be just fine.
Maybe home isn’t four walls and a roof; maybe it’s the soul inside the skin of another, two eyes and a heartbeat. Perhaps it’s the sound of laughter and holding hands, or maybe it’s just sitting in silence, the act of being there simply enough. Maybe it’s in these places of familiarity that we find our home, where we know we belong- in the presence of the ones that truly know us, where we can share our voice with out the fear of judgment or abandonment.
The key to finding this type of relationship though, and what I have seen to work in my own life, is intentional investment. We must not only be with others, but we must walk along side them as well, purposefully abiding in each other’s presence as we attempt to achieve our daily tasks. This kind of relationship is an art form, one I have yet to master but oh God, am I trying.
But if we truly want to be intentional about the relationships we foster, if we want to live a life truly engaged with the people we surround ourselves with, then we must be willing to get intimate; to let our walls down and let people in. This concept is uncomfortable, terrifying even, if you are as private as I am.
I am careful who I give pieces of myself to, and I firmly believe we should be. You can’t fully give yourself to everyone, you must be selective, fully trusting those you interact with. But you must be willing also. You can’t just say you want intimacy and never give. Relationships are about sacrifice, they are unapologetically giving away your time, energy and resources to the people that you love, and that includes sacrificing pieces of yourself so that others can come alongside you to support you, love you and care for you as you deserve.
Not only must we be intentional, we must we be willing to get messy. Life isn’t always made up of the moments where we feel most alive. It’s also made up of the moments where we feel like we are dying, suffocating under the weight of trying to survive. Let’s talk about the easy stuff, but let’s also talk about the hard, about the real things. To be real with another, to let them into the inner most parts of yourself is frightening but necessary if we want life-giving relationships filled with accountability, intimacy and trust.
So let’s not just talk about it. Let’s do something. Let’s actively try to become better at our relationships not just for our own selves but also for the sake of others. We all deserve that feeling of coming home in another person. Let us seek to create dwellings of safety, peace, love, support, you name it—but let us seek to watch these relationships thrive, not just survive.
It’s going to be really hard and honestly you won’t want to do it at times, but once you see the beauty in watching these relationships grow, oh how worth it all will be.