by Sarah Leslie
I love thrift store shopping. It’s not just the thrill of the bargain but the stories woven inside each garment, or their potential to be remade into something unique and one of a kind that excites me. And the older, the better. Years ago in a Tulsa thrift shop I found a black leather jacket from the 1950’s that became one of my most prized possessions. I loved everything about it, its smell, its style, its comfort, its character, and its stories told through each scuff and blemish. I took care of it better than new. This seems to be my kneejerk response to things that have outlived their usefulness, or just aren’t exciting anymore in this disposable society. With proper care and attention, new joy can be found in old things.
The same holds true for relationships. The people in our lives are some of the greatest gifts we will ever receive. There’s a special degree of love and joy we can only experience within the bond of a cherished relationship, but all relationships are vulnerable to becoming stale and musty unless properly cared for. Here’s three things to keep old relationships fresh and exciting, or set new relationships off on the right track.
1) Be Oxygen
How we treat those we care about can either be fresh air to fuel them, or thick stale air to smother them. Healthy relationships are empowering and freeing, encouraging individuality and independence. Being oxygen to those we love requires intentionally saying and doing things to nurture and encourage. It’s very easy within comfortable relationships to focus on the negative, or stop investing the best of ourselves. Control, jealousy and emotional dependence can creep in and smother. Patience, kindness, trust, and unconditional acceptance can be a breath of fresh air.
2) Listen Up
We all have a deep craving to be heard and understood, yet too often that need of our soul goes unmet. Counselors are paid big money to sit and listen to our hearts when no one else will. All types of relationships require a commitment to be a dedicated listener, not just to what their mouth is saying, but their heart as well, and validate their feelings without judgment or rejection. Attentive listening while someone shares their life, the good and the bad, shows them they matter, they have value, and they are worth your time.
3) Do Something
Don’t make your life about you, make it about those around you and what you can do for them. Look for ways to honor and serve them, and make them smile. Bake cookies, prepare a meal, do house cleaning or yard work, mail a card or write a letter. Never take relationships for granted, or let others forget what they’re worth. They’re gifts you get to enjoy everyday, do things that are a gift in return.
Investing new effort in old relationships can fill your soul like nothing else. Be intentional, and you’ll find new joy.
Sarah Leslie is a freelance writer and God-sized dreamer passionate about building people up through the power of words. You can find her blog, A Timely Word, at http://regenerationpublishing.blogspot.com/