"Where There are Friends, There is Wealth"
- Plautas (3rd century)
You know those former friends? When you see them, it feels awkward. You used to be close, but now you don’t hardly speak. You both know what happened- trust is gone. Really, trust is all that we have in relationships. When that breaks down, things are headed for trouble.
The million dollar question: How do you build a solid foundation of trust in all your relationships, so that you can reap the full reward of your relational wealth?
Honesty and Integrity
These are some old fashioned words, but they are like gold in your relationships.
I live in a state where the law says that all employment is considered to be “at will.” I didn’t understand this at first, but what it means is that the employee can leave any time, and the employer can let you go at any time, because you are employed mutually at will.
In the world of relationships, this can be a harsh reality that smacks you in the face unexpectedly when someone leaves the relationship. Perhaps you have had a difficult breakup and discovered this reality. The harsh fact is, all relationships are “at will”. This is the necessary flip side of the coin that we all recognize, because love must be given freely; it cannot be forced.
One of my valuable lessons came from looking at relationships at the molecular level; the tiny parts that make up the relationship, namely, requests to connect. These requests are most obvious in the dating scenario, where two people are trying to see if they are a good fit and worth expending the energy to connect more, or if they simply move along to the next candidate. But we are all constantly making these requests, not only in dating or romantic relationships, but with our family members, coworkers, neighbors, down to the waiter or waitress at the restaurant. Famed author and psychologist, John Gottman calls these requests, “bids to connect.”
No one plans for their life to fall apart, but it happens every day. Life happens and we really have very little control over it, despite our attempts to be in control at all times. You come home one day and your spouse says it’s over and is leaving. Your doctor says you have cancer. Someone close to you suddenly passes away. These are crisis moments when you know deep inside that your life will never be the same. It feels like the floor drops out and you begin to free fall, not knowing when and how you will land. Sometimes you think you’ve hit the bottom, only to find you are still falling and have farther to go. What do you do? Who do you call?
Everyone fears this kind of life crisis. When our friends go through it, we try to be there for them, but go home and hug our family a little tighter. When I went through it, I could see it in peoples’ eyes. They felt for me, but deep in their heart was the fear that it could happen to them just as easily.
You make a call to your best friend and maybe one of your parents. But where else do you go? What do you do?
In a sense, building relational wealth is not very complicated. To have a full life, you give yours away to others. A great teacher once said something very similar “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it” (Luke 17:33).
I regularly practice and urge people to continually invest in relationships. Life is unpredictable. I have visited people in the hospital in their time of need, and they have very little support to speak of. It’s sad. The only thing more sad is going to a funeral of someone who has not invested in relationships. In contrast, I have walked into a hospital room to see someone who is relationally wealthy. The difference is huge and obvious. Their experience in their hour of need is completely different. They have a relational safety net.
When I went through a desperate time a few years ago, I thought my life was over.
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Joel is a husband, father, musician, and lover of life; especially life that is shared with the wealth of amazing friends and family he is blessed to have near.