Reflections on reuniting with old friends and family

Being back in Wheaton for a couple of weeks was very interesting in a number of ways.  First of all, it was interesting to be around my parents a lot again.  Its always nice to spend time with them, and its also interesting to observe their interaction with each other and I think the things that I’ve observed between them are fairly characteristic of a lot of relationships that I’ve observed.  I’m stepping off into generalization land right now, so Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, don’t take offense, I love you.  And this isn’t about you, its about all of us.

It seems very strange to me that the people that we are closest to are often the ones that we treat the worst.  We treat our friends and acquaintances with politeness, courtesy, respect (most of the time), and general kindness.  This illustrates itself in a myriad of ways and I’m sure that lots of circumstances of this happening in your life are floating through your head right now… so I’m not going to cite any examples as they are already floating through our heads.  On the other hand, those people that are closest to us, we generally are not as polite to, we rarely tell them how much we appreciate them, we yell at them, we don’t pay much attention to their needs and desires, we get angry at them and sometimes we hurt them.  Now I know I’m making some huge generalizations here, but from my experience a lot of this is true at least some of the time.  Why is this the case?  It makes more sense to me that the people that are the closest to us would be treated better than friends and acquaintances and even strangers for that matter.  Maybe its just that its very easy take things for granted when they are always available.  Maybe its that we expect more from our close friends and family.  Maybe its that we’re selfish and find it very difficult to think of the needs and desires of others.  Maybe its that we’re prideful and don’t want to let the other person win.  Hmmm, there it is: pride, competition.  In my opinion, those two things are responsible for most of the problems in the world.

I can’t let them her know that I feel this way about her or else she might…..  I can’t let him know about what I did or else he might…..  If she wins this argument then I’ll never live it down.  If he gets his way again, then…..  I can’t let them see this side of me or they might not accept me, they might laugh at me, they might reject me.

Yeah, these things might happen, but what else might happen if we reacted differently?  What if we encouraged each other rather than made fun of each other?  What if we laughed with each other rather than at each other?  What if we thought about what the other person needs rather than what we want?  Who’s the one responsible for how I feel in any situation?  Who creates those feelings of happiness or sadness?  Who’s responsible for those feelings of confidence or inadequacy?  Who causes me to react with kindness or with bitterness?  Do I have a choice?  Is there always a choice?  Our choices, our actions, our reactions, our moods, our views, our beliefs, our assumptions effect everything.  What effect are your choices and actions and reactions and moods and views and beliefs and assumptions having on everything?  You have a choice.  I have a choice.

Being back in Wheaton was also interesting because I had the opportunity to spend time with a lot of old friends.  It was great to get together with my friends that are still in the area.  It was great to spend time with people that I care deeply about and know well, but it was also weird at the same time.  I try to pick up where we left off or try to catch up on whats been happening in our lives, but its almost impossible to do that in earnest when I know that I’m going to be leaving again soon.  I try to make the best of the time that I get to spend with old friends because at this point in my journey as I travel around, that time is pretty short.  I am convinced that I’m supposed to continue traveling for the immediate future and I know that I am learning more and more about how I’m supposed to live and I long for some stability and a sense of place.  It looks like it might be a while yet until that last part comes around.  Anyway, I want to encourage you to take the opportunity some time soon to tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them, make a choice to change your attitude about something, do that something that you’ve been meaning to do for a while, step back and reflect on the big picture, and live with more love.  I will strive to do the same.

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