Day 9: Returning to the List

We’ve spent some days exercising our comfort zone. Today, let’s go back to a bit of introspection. Remember the list? Why are those people on your list? What makes them kindred spirits? What makes others fall off the list? To understand, sometimes it’s helpful to recap your friendship history.

I’ll tell you a little of mine so that you can see what it looks like. My family is large. Someone was always around. I love a large family, but often wonder if my need to get off by myself came primarily from always having people around. To make it more interesting, my parents were foster parents. Over my growing years, we had over 100 kids pass through our home. Today, some of those kids are still family; others were adopted; most others disappeared back into the system. Being a foster sister shaped my personality, perhaps more than anything else in my life.

I became a mediator, the one to listen to the pain. I was counselor and peacemaker, the fixer of problems. My empathy gene is off the charts, both a blessing and a curse. It was difficult to feel bad for myself when others living with me had it so much worse than I ever would. Despite my care of others, I yearned for attention too.

Of course, friendships change over a lifetime. And most of those who are kindreds are friends I met when I had grown. But especially through my college years and into young adulthood, I chose “friends” based on who I thought I could fix. It was a way to get the attention I wanted. I liked everybody – but had nobody. Those people who could have or should have been my kindreds, I pushed away in order to fix those I saw in need of fixing. These people I thought were in need of fixing could hurt me, and did hurt me, because they weren’t true friends.

I’ve learned over time that I don’t need to fix anybody…indeed, I CAN’T fix anybody. When I learned that lesson, it was way too late for some of my friendships, but thankfully, it wasn’t too late for all friendship! There’s more of the story to tell, but it can wait for another day.

DAY 9 HOMEWORK: Start your friendship history. Go back as far as you can remember and think about the social issues you had, the hurts, the family background that shaped you. Just that is enough for today. We’ll keep building on our list as we go along.

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Day 2: Why the list is important

If you did your homework from Day 1, you now have a list of the people you have felt connected to over the years. So what? What does it have to do with today, this moment? They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step, and in order to take this journey of connections, you have to know who it is you’ll be looking for on the way.

A little while ago, an executive coach told me that I should look for “my people.” What an interesting suggestion! Who were “my people”? How do I find “my people”? If I look at my list, “my people” are most often those who make me laugh, who like to think of possibilities, who talk about ideas and beliefs, who are ok with silence, who are vulnerable, and yet strong. Not all of “my people” fit these ideals…sometimes a kindred is strong in one or two of these areas; sometimes a kindred is all of these things and more.

Those who know me well know that living out my faith is everything to me, but not all of “my people” share my theology. Not all of “my people” dream grand dreams like I do. Not all of “my people” share my love for learning and language; some of them can’t even spell 🙂 but those things don’t break the strong connections we share. And while connecting with others cannot and will not be limited only to “my people,” knowing what delights my heart keeps my antennas up and alert for kindreds.

So, who are “your people”? What is it that delights your heart when connecting with others? When you begin to name these things, patterns will emerge. You’ll know what you’re looking for, and that will create more momentum for this journey. And once you know, we can talk about how to start looking for them.

DAY 2 HOMEWORK: Looking at your list of kindreds from yesterday, what are the characteristics that drew you to them? What things make your heart smile when around these people? Take a few minutes to jot down what connects you to “your people.”