I am thankful for many things in life. I try not to dwell on the negative. I try not to carry the burden of my mistakes (which are many) along the road with me.
This is not the same as forgetting. I do not want to forget the weight of things, merely set them down along the way like unnecessary heavy burdens and continue on with the memory of what they were and the hope that I might carry things differently moving forward.
My wife makes me happy. My children make me happy. These are good things in the grand scheme of things.
Generally, I am a simple person in a sea of complexity. I don’t need a lot relationally. This can become a tendency of not giving a lot relationally if I am not careful and attentive.
I have always known I can be content simply knowing a person I love or care for exists in the world in a state of general contentment. In the past this has caused me to make assumptions about others. I assume if I am content in the knowledge that my friend or relative is simply existing that they too feel the same way about me. I don’t need to reach out and they don’t need to reach out and everyone is happy.
In this sense I am a distant person relationally and can appear cold. I internalize my relationships. I consume them and take them inside sheltered from the wind and rain of the real world. Safe.
This is not really how things are supposed to work with relationships. It is how I work. It is important to understand these things and note the distinction.
Regardless of how you feel, in relationships, there are others. They feel and emote and exist in ways different from ourselves. Knowing this, we are asked to extend ourselves outside of our safe comfort zones that we might reach out to others (or pull back as the case may be) so that we can acknowledge and value how others seek to relate to us.
We must speak to those who need speaking to and hug those who need to be hugged – even when these are not our ways. This is not to suggest you abandon who you are and become the same as others. This is not healthy and also leads to relational breakdown. The point is for both people in a relationship to find that middle place between you and occupy it from time to time.
Sometimes, given enough effort, you may learn to like the stretched place and even come to overlap. This is a wonderful thing in a relationship.
One of the things I value most in my marriage is that we have, through time and effort, found places we overlap. Over the years one of those areas is walking together. We walk together nearly every single day. This may seem simple but it can be remarkably hard to defend a relational habit like this with the ever present tyranny of the urgent constantly seeking to press in on that which we can take for granted – like simple relational presence.
This is the beautiful thing about our walks together. There is no agenda. We talk, sometimes. We are silent, sometimes. We hold hands, sometimes. You get the idea. Taking a walk together expresses a simple desire to be near to one-another. There is opportunity to vent and discuss. There is opportunity to simply be in each other’s space. I have come to value our walks as an expression of mutual love.
A habit of intentionally seeking the other is important. When we reach out we actively acknowledge and communicate that the person in the relationship is valuable to us. In fact the act itself is part of the engine of relationship – it keeps it going.