Tuesday, June 14

Life Affirming Relationships: How We Get Them ..............................6/14/11

Like the slow unfurling of flowers that feel the warm
presence of the sun, so is the growth of a true friendship.
      The following continues thoughts I have resulting from dining with a gang of guys last Wednesday.  I'm including a bit of what I wrote that evening and I go from there.
      What I wrote earlier:
      I visited and ate dinner with a group of men who had attended tonight's event. I know the routine, what it's like to be with men, since I'm of that species and a former jock.  But, it's not something I've done in a long while, going beyond
five years, probably longer. It was interesting hearing men converse for an hour and a half. It was as if I was in a scene from the television series,  "Home Improvement."  However, there was no Tim Allen-like grunting, though. Darn it.
Concrete Conversation 
     Everything discussed was concrete. Cabins, tractors, guns, adventures with fireworks, encounters with police, the Oakland Athletics baseball team and the history of the city in which we ate, Alameda, were covered. No mention of personal growth, fear, courage or hope.  I'll credit one fellow. He shared his concern for two neglected young girls, a niece and a friend of hers. His comments fed my hope for humanity.
        I took everything in while with these fellows.  I was off-balance, being with men I didn't know. I spoke little, other than peppering the conversation with questions.  It was intriguing noticing the dynamic among these men.
      It humbled me, comparing this time with what I have when with my three sons (yes, I've thought of changing my name to Pablo McMurray, for those of you old enough to know what I'm talking about). We also are a group of men, when gathered.  Openness, shared vulnerability, joy, laughter and transparency happens when were together. Our time satisfies our souls. 
Gentleness Reveals Characterological Strength
      In high school, I learned gentleness requires greater strength than a "tough" facade.  Anyone can be gruff, living within the self-protecting walnut of not revealing what's going on--within--to anyone. Being vulnerable reveals courage. If we do, we are susceptible to someone stomping on the weak areas displayed. Transparent, open conversation leaves us open to derision, judgment.
     The upside is that heart-felt talk heals the soul. It proclaims authenticity is in our midst---we aren't hiding by talking only from the neck up. We reveal ourselves, expressing feelings---not just the cognitive parts of our souls. Fellowship of this nature, allows restoration----emotional, spiritual and physical, that can be found no other way. 
The Stuff of Intimacy   It Requires Discernment
      Inviting others to see theses vulnerable parts is intimacy.  It's important to not do so with just anyone. We want to engage with those who love and accept us unconditionally.
      Relating with people who have integrity, who are emotionally healthy, trustworthy and mature, make an unfurling of our inner selves possible. Knowing our "must haves" and "can't stands" when relating with others is critical.  Developing healthy friendships, which I call my Balcony People, requires maturity and skill.  Safe relationships requires character discernment on my part. And they take time to grow.
Healthy Relationships Do Not Happen Overnight
      Fulfilling relationships happen when we set healthy values on the mantles of our friendships. Doing so, permits us the warmth of relating with emotionally mature others. These relationships don't happen spontaneously:
"Friendship is a plant of slow growth with must endure many  seasons of adversity for it to be worthy of that appellation."           George Washington.
Our first president should know; it was a lesson he learned during the Revolutionary War.  Benedict Arnold was a close friend of his before he betrayed our nation.
       Good, nurturing relationships require discernment, effort and patience. It's a slow growing plant. The investment, however, is worth it: there's satisfaction living life surrounded with Balcony People.
        This inn is one place where you can experience this.  Interested?  It starts with us hearing from you.

How About You?
1. What do you look for, when connecting with others?
2. What are mistakes you've made when relating with others? What's a big lesson you've learned?
3. What do your satisfying relationships look like?
4. And, of course, what gratitudes do you have about your friends?
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