1 Corinthians 15:33-34
Family is a set of people God chose to be in our life. Friends are a set of people we chose to be in our life. The Mom Scout always told me Pick your friends carefully. Somehow, someway, she understood what importance of the people you surround yourself with would play a part in the places you go in life – literally and figuratively. The top 10 people you surround yourself with are the most-important / most-detrimental people you have in your life, because those are going to be the people who set your bar to the standards in your life. They are going to be what’s considered “normal”… “acceptable”… “right.” The next 10 people you surround yourself with are going to be your confirmation of those first 10 people. And every person after that will be the aftermath. Just like circles in a pond.
Friend is a term often used loosely in this day and age. Where I come from, a friend is a family member who wasn’t born into your family. Either you’re family or you’re not. Too often, people put their emotions and life into people they consider a friend, get hurt when that person doesn’t act like a friend should, then get upset and say – but I thought you were my friend? What kind of friend does that? Well, that’s your fault… for calling them a “friend.” Relationships are all about boundaries and responsibilities. When you understand and respect that concept, you’ll understand where people should be in your life.
Relationships should be broken into four categories – non-negotiable, critical, important, and non-essential.
Non-negotiable ones are the people you cannot live without. Now normally you would think this would be family [in general], but unfortunately we can’t choose who’s in our family. Some siblings… cousins… aunts…mmmm I don’t know. But parents, children, some family, best friends. The people who you need in your life; to the point where your life could not function if they were not there. Your top 5-10 friends whom no matter what, you would drop everything if they needed you, because they would do the same for you. The ones who never have to ask you twice. Keep in mind, this is a mutual relationship. They need you as much as you need them.
You don’t argue with these people because there is no such thing as “miscommunication.” You don’t lie to these people, because there is no such thing as judgement. You don’t disrespect these people because you hold them to the same regard as you hold yourself. These people don’t deceive you because there is no such thing as intentions.
Critical ones are the people that your life wouldn’t be the same without them. Your uncle, your favorite cousin, your pastor, your doctor. This group of people is the group that makes your life tick. You don’t need to talk to them often but you do need to talk to them… and when you do, it’s for a reason. Generally, it is because you need something, but hey, it is what it is. They fill a void that no one else can. Sometimes you just need to hear your aunt’s voice telling you everything’s gonna be alright. When you need a prayer, you reach out to your deacon and say hey, I need you to pray for me. The people who are not too close to your life’s situations to form a biased / inaccurate opinion, but close enough to care about the decisions you make.
Important ones are the people that serve a purpose in your life. These are the people who mostly have something to gain from you, but you receive an indirect benefit as well – a blessing in helping them. The young RN who is where you were 4 years ago, and wants to be the NP you are today. The cousin who wants to drop out of school because they’re ready to get paid, instead of complete their education to get a higher pay when they graduate. The people who need people like you to keep them close. To keep an eye on them. To guide them. Not to be nosey, but to help them avoid the traps in life that they can’t see themselves. These are the relationships that matter when it comes to being functional on this earth to others. Keep in mind, these people are so you can be used, but not taken advantage of, simply because they need help.
Non-essential ones are everyone else. This is the line that separates who you need and who you don’t. These are the people who can get you in trouble. Whom your spouse can say – let this person go. The people you depend on who let you down. The people you help, who you complain about helping after you’ve helped them. The people that you’ve “known since middle school” that you just know, but you really don’t need them in your life because they don’t really serve a purpose that one of the other 3 levels couldn’t do for you. The people who you meet along your journeys in life who you should have said hi & bye to, but no, you decided to sit and chat a little too long, and now they’re a stray cat in your life and don’t want to leave.
It’s in our DNA to feel wanted. Humans have to attach themselves to something. Just make sure you attach yourself to something real. Something with purpose. It’s all about allocation and placement. If you don’t put people in their place, then they will take advantage of you… or even worse, take advantage of the people close to you. Anyone who does not respect your circles – who else is in your circle or which circle you place them in, is a clear sign of which circle they should actually be in. Relationships can get real messy if you let them. The older you get, the less people you should have in your life. Everyone doesn’t need to be your friend. Be smart. Be honest. Be organized.
“Sometimes you have to choose and then you’ll see..” © Tionne Watkins – “What About Your Friends”
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