These last two months have brought about changes in most of our lives. We find ourselves out of school; out of our daily routine for 13 years and now we are idle. Some of us go on to do part time work (others maybe full time) but during these weeks on being unoccupied with anything, we take note that our relationships grow weaker because we are no longer connected through school and maybe other such places of routine.
Nevertheless I’ve felt rather distant from people I once thought I was close to and it makes me wonder what we can actually do with so much free time on our hands. Perhaps most of the time we have depended on having conversations with other people as a way to maintain that relationship; and this is perhaps the best way to keep in contact because it was all we could do. But nowadays we can do so much more. Why converse with letters and numbers when you can talk to them face to face; or instead of playing a game over the Internet, actually go out and do physical activities?
We find ourselves more able to spend time with one another and we ought to; our probable only point of contact was through school, and now with that gone we don’t even have an opportunity to meet in person unless we make ourselves a chance. We know we can do so much more now and we can feel it. However, when all we can muster is mere words to communicate such a feeling of closeness and freedom, we already make a heavy mistake.
One of the things I thought was essential in a relationship was consistency. You talk to your friend several times a day at school, you do the same the next day at school; and you keep repeating that process for weeks, even months and years to come. That’s being a good consistent friend. But now without school and whatever, we need to rebuild a new level of consistency, a routine of keeping up with friends on a regular basis. And here is the hard part. As Vanessa pointed out in her comment to my previous post, sometimes we are unaware of what we are capable of doing. We have this new freedom and yet we haven’t tried to exercise it to the limit. We either hold back and give little time to our friends, or we try to give too much and we end up faltering under pressure.
But at the minimum communication is always a good start, no matter what form, and then it’s simply building it up from there to a comfortable level for both or more people. What I found upsetting was people promising me things which they later retraced; and this would be appear to be the case of “empty words”. It is always a fear that you might end up trying to give too much away and upsetting yourself and others when you fail to meet your own expectations. But the other side of things is giving too little, making it seem as if you don’t care about the other person; what would seem to be a negatively contrasted act against what you used to do at school.
And this would lead on to the topic of words. Actions do speak louder than words. Sometimes we may find contradictions against this saying but for times like this, actions are louder because now we have the freedom to perform them. Surely none of us are still pathetic to point of still being stuck at home yeah? There has to be at least one time where you can actually go out and do something physical with friends, there are no excuses. And it’s only after seeing what our new patterns of routines with friends are, that we begin to reassess the intimacy of our relationships. Am I are a closer friend with this person now? Or have I seemed to grown more distant from them? These are questions we begin to ask ourselves since our environment has changed.
Of course we can’t expect to see out friends as often as would be at school; but I suppose this is probably best left to everyone’s own opinion as to what is “frequent contact” for them. But mind you, do not rule out words. Sure, words can be mere words which have nothing on actions. In fact most of the time our relationships are determined by the actions that have taken place, rather than words that are exchanged. A mistake we sometimes make is communicating our feelings through words. Feelings cannot be transformed into words because they are unlike. But sometimes we get the message because we know how the other is feeling. In a sense we sort of “see their heart”. But of course we can’t do that all the time, we are human after all and it is not our ability to see how people feel, even through words; that’s God’s ability. This is what I mean by words, merely conversing our feelings. You cannot judge the intimacy of a relationship just through words; the more time you spend with each other, the stronger your friendship is; that is the underlining basis. One example is that, we are not children of God because God felt that he should or that He loves us. We are children of God because He sent His Son Jesus to die for us, an action.
Having said that it is apparent that actions is what builds a relationship but the “feeling” or the “words” are needed to give direction. If you feel particularly close to someone, using words conduct conversation can sometimes seem shallow; it seems better to act according to how you feel. At least this way you don’t send mixed feelings and confusion to the other person. But again, talking in itself is an action isn’t it? And so therefore words can also be an action but only if used in the right way. A fruitful conversation is a good one because you actually have direction in it and it achieves something, such as you learn something about someone; maybe their views on a particular topic, something like that. Words can be an effective tool, but if it’s merely mindless conversation about gibberish and all, you haven’t really gotten anywhere and from that, a relationship does not strengthen.
And another thing. As I mentioned earlier sometimes we aren’t aware of what we are cap[able of and likewise we may not know what our friends are capable of. One can always guess, or make an educated guess but perhaps one mistake that I can personally relate is expecting too much from other people. I guess you really do need to get to know someone well before you can take a shot at guessing what they are capable of. It’s a complicated issue but ultimately everyone needs to give in a little to be satisfied and as long as everyone is happy at the end of the day, that’s all you need.
So all in all, remember to let your actions be the things that maintain relationships, not your mindless words. Remember to give and give consistently; it’s up to you and your friends to work out what is suitable. And remember never to promise things you can’t keep, no-one likes having their hopes destroyed. I suppose personally there are a few things I’d need to pick up on for the people around me but it’ll take time to realize what I need to do.
Hope everyone has a safe holiday still. Keep holding onto your friends, no matter how tightly.