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Welcome to part three.

Deeper Personal Connections

We all recognize that deeper connections equal the risk of deeper pain and vulnerability. We need to be wise about building deeper relationships, not weary. Most of us have accepted that cars are risky.

Years ago, my wife and I were still dating, pre-engagement. We had attended a valentine’s banquet, and I gave her a poem I had written for her. It was on two aged sheets of parchment and written in calligraphy. The title of the poem was “Love’s Ode to Thee.” At our college, the tradition was not to say, ‘I love you’ until the relationship had advanced. For us, this was a significant memory, and my wife has it in a large frame she hangs in our room.

She wanted to share it with her mom, so when her mom picked her up on a visit to take her home for a weekend, she took it with her. On the way home, there was a horrible accident. Jeanine was in the hospital with a fractured hip, and her mother didn’t make it. It was a sad season, but it was a season we were able to build deeper connections. Years later, when Jeanine was her age, she felt mortal as it reminded her of when her mother had passed.

What was the point of the above story? The reason it was mentioned was we still both drive or ride cars. Most people do. Yet, when it comes to building relationships, our fear paralyzes many of us. It is funny how some men can volunteer to go off to war but cannot get the courage to ask a woman to be their wife. Here again, we see deeper personal connections or fear of the vulnerability related to them.

Safety in Numbers

We both believe in community. We believe it is messy because it is made up of people, and people don’t always have the same focus. Without people, there are many benefits missing from our lives. We realize the potential for community, and most of us find somewhere in society we feel safe. Yes, safe looks different for each of us. Few of us settle for safety in complete solitude. Humans are social by nature.

The safety of our community needs to shelter us from harm, not growth. In addition to being social, humans need to grow and find meaning. Much of that meaning is connected to the social side of our reality. Without being open to deeper relationships one on one, we use society to shelter us from the risk of relationships.

Oh, I am not giving your friends permission to choose your relationships for you. Nobody knows who you should choose better than you. After all, our friends don’t have to walk out making the relationship work. Remember the earlier article where I said the key to making relationships work is work? Yes, and over time there will be lots of work ahead. The work is rewarding, but our friends cannot do the work for us, so it needs to be our decision.

Relationships are about Us

When we discuss things in marriage, there are seasons that go to the wrong side of you and me. Those are two healthy concepts because even in marriage, we are always still individuals called me and you or you and me. I look at this a bit like walking on two legs. There is a left and a right foot. Together we are better, and though we are not the same in many ways, we are. The illustration has flaws, but it makes the point that you and I, while separate are also always we.

Lets us consider each of us has a circle of desire and preferences. When two people commit to a relationship, it is not about compromise. Compromise is I focus on my circle with an equal portion of resources to you focusing on your circle. This doesn’t mean we never get to focus on things in our circle that the other has no interest in. It means there is a new priority. Things common to both our circles are where relationships are built. They are more important than your circle or my circle. Those common areas are where we, wait for it, relate! Did you hear that word, relate? It has something to do with “relationships.”

Relationships are where the “formed in fire” parts of life go to grow. While I don’t want to have my wife go first, there is something odd I do want. I want it to be really sad when she is gone. I want to miss her, and if she goes first, I will. It isn’t the pain of having loved and lost that I seek. It is joy in the journey, familiar as we rise in the morning to ending our days in each other’s arms. In time we will be familiar with life beyond those wonderful waking hours together so much of our lives. Yet, we will both, or either of us, remember that we were loved and that we were able to love.

In life, pursue lasting relationships. Renew with new seasons. Hopefully, your “us” will be fulfilling as many other “us” couples have enjoyed their journey of life together. In that spirit, and as the theme of this site is… how will you influence “your” future today?

This was the third in a series on The Pursuit of Lasting Relationships.