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?

No Man Is an Island

The best part of writing is that as I contemplate a part of my past, I gain new understanding. Last Sunday I wrote You Raise Me Up and as I thought about all the people who were affected by our car accident, the beginning words of a famous poem came to mind.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Written by John Donne (1572-1631) a Jacobean poet and preacher.

The words came to mind because I realized how much I needed others to help me through this tragedy and it occurred to me most humans cannot succeed or survive on their own.  As much as I want and strive to be independent, the article helped me understand I’m not and never will be. It’s humbling to recognize how much I need other people, but it also encourages me to reach out and give back to others. Humans are social beings and no one is totally self-sufficient; most everyone relies on another for survival.

It also occurred to me since we live in an interdependent society, our actions will always affect someone else. How often have you thought, I can do this and it will only affect me?  No one else has to know or will even care. This is most likely not the case. The only way for your actions to affect no one but yourself is to live all alone on an island, right?

Castaway-islandDid you see the movie Cast Away filmed in 2001 with Tom Hanks?  He played Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer. His existence was ruled by the clock, but life as he knew it abruptly ended when a horrendous plane crash left him isolated on a remote island. Chuck struggles to survive on his own.

wilson ballWhile collecting debris from the plane he comes across a brand new Wilson volleyball. Chuck paints a face and adds ornamental grass in it to give it hair. Wilson becomes his only companion and when he loses Wilson in a violent storm, I actually cried right along with Chuck.

Although this is a fiction story, it depicts how much we humans need other people. It also points out that while Chuck was stranded on an island, many others were affected by his sudden absence and unknown location, especially by those who loved and cared for him.

We can often feel alone, but in fact we never really are. Thinking our actions affect only ourselves is another misconception. We want to be independent, but we live in an interdependent society.

What does “No Man Is an Island” mean to you? I’d love to read your thoughts.