Nurturing Relationships

Humans are social beings and no one is totally self-sufficient. As much as we strive to be independent and admire those who appear to be, it’s sobering to realize in order to accomplish some things we need help. When I read, listen or ponder on my own or other’s life experiences, I realized how much we need one another to succeed. As humbling as the fact is, it also encourages me to reach out and give back to others.

Greg & Laura LakeGreg and Laura are wonderful examples of giving back to others. They shared their story with us this past week. Laura talked about some of the mistakes she’d made by saying, “I am fiercely independent and a stubborn woman. In the beginning I turned family and friends away. I said, ‘don’t fly up here, I’m fine’. Then, ‘we don’t need meals, I’ve got this covered.’”

“By turning help down, I alienated the very people Greg and I needed the most. I felt neglected, isolated, abandoned, ignored, lonely, unsupported, disrespected and misunderstood. When I needed family and friends the most, they were all gone.”

How often do we turn away our friends and family because we don’t know how to accept help or because we want to appear stronger than we really are? It’s much more enjoyable to give rather than receive help. When our lives are out of control, it’s scary and we hope we can make it better by managing things on our own. We may not understand ourselves what we need or how others can help so we push the people we want in our lives away.

The words of John Donne (1572-1631) a Jacobean poet and preacher came to mind, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

When tragedy happens it’s hard to think about how it’s affecting our family and friends. We may be so wrapped up in our own worry and grief we are blind to the distress it has on others. They may feel left out or don’t know what to do or say.  They may not know how to help if we’re not open and honest with them.

I appreciated Laura’s advice to let people into our lives by letting them help and also by reaching out to others. She said, “It will reward you and them at a time when they are lost as well.  It will strengthen your relationships, not erode them.  You need help – take it!  They need to help!  Give them the opportunity! I challenge you to SAY YES! Learn from our mistakes and say YES!  YES I need help.  YES I could use that dinner.  YES I would love to join that group or club!  YES I could use a ride to my Dr.’s office or therapy appointment.  YES I would love to go on a walk, or to have you push me while you go on a walk.  Take a chance on making a new friend or rebuilding a relationship. As you do, opportunities, love and warmth will envelope you and your human relationships will grow!”

Get Well CardsI learn so much from others and appreciate my own life experiences. Today, in church, I witnessed many people nurturing their relationship with my mother, who has been too sick with back and hip pain to attend church for four months. Under better health circumstances, she has given so much love and service and is a great example to me of building friendships by reaching out to others. Our neighbors and friends ask me often how she is doing and I try to relay their concern to her. Since we live in the same home and attend the same church, I was given many cards to give to her expressing their love and concern. The children also made a big get well poster for her and wrote notes and signed it in their primary class. My mother’s spirit Get Well Primaryis raised up by the thoughtfulness of so many. Seeing the love that others have for my mother also lifted my spirit. I’m grateful for all the wonderful examples I see and have felt in my own life of nurturing relationships. Today, I realized it can be as simple as writing a note to someone.


In your life what personal acts illustrate nurturing a relationship? What effect did it have on you when you were receiving or giving the nurturing?

Sensational Run

I was touched by this video posted on Facebook. Most parents take videos of their child at a school event, sports and/or music recital without a thought of it going viral, but this video is special. It was taken by a mother of an eleven-year-old boy, Matt, who has cerebral palsy. Matt was told he didn’t have to run the elementary school race, but he was determined to be like all the other kids. I imagined the heartache and worry this mother felt as she watched her son struggle, but she continued to record the race anyway. I heard her call out words of encouragement. I personally felt concerned for Matt’s health and safety and thought, this boy has good reason to quit. Then something magical happened as a caring teacher and supportive classmates urged Matt to keep going.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it, hoping I’d be like the caring teacher who turned around the apparent outcome. His encouragement not only spurred Matt on, but his example urged the students to cheer and support Matt. I want to be like the classmates who were probably tired after completing the race, but still went back to run beside him. Matt received the boost he needed to successfully complete the race. I will not soon forget the examples of Matt’s determination, the care of a teacher and the supportive classmates.

In the article Liftable it states, “In our world today there are plenty of stories of bullying and poor student behavior. That’s not the case here. What we have is a teacher who made a difference (as many often do) and classmates that went above and beyond to help a friend finish the race. A race which holds a lesson to be learned for everyone.”

As I viewed the video I noticed a difference in my own attitude. As I watched Matt receive the help and encouragement my thought of, this poor boy transformed to, with this kind of assistance and reassurance he’ll make it! In my heart, I also started cheering him on and felt his joy as he reached the finish line.

I recognized some similarities in my own race of life, where family and friends have given me confidence and raised my spirits when I needed it the most to help me reach the finish line of that particular struggle. This reminded me of a favorite poem.

When good friends walk beside us

On trails that we must keep,

Our burdens seem less heavy

And the hills are not so steep.

The weary miles pass swiftly

Taken in a joyous stride,

And all the world seems brighter

When friends walk by our side.

Author Unknown

Have you felt the magic that happens when friends walk by your side? Have you given someone else the magic as you’ve blessed their life with love and support through their struggle? I’d love to hear about your experiences.