When you really think about it, the list of people we encounter and interact with on a daily basis can be quite long. It may include parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, co-workers, store clerks, bus drivers, seminar attendees, and the list goes on. Some of these we encounter on this list are the people whose relationships become the important influencers in the shaping of our own lives.
For most of us at the top of that list would be our parents, followed by siblings, and often grandparents, and maybe an aunt or an uncle. For some, the top influencer could end up being a teacher, a coach, a friend, or a foster parent. If some of our early influencers led us down the wrong path, hopefully consequences hit us in the face at some point, making us open to the positive influence of someone else. Regardless of how our life’s journey progresses, the importance of nurturing and maintaining healthy relationships is critical to a successful and happy life.
We are all social animals. We learn, adapt, and ultimately progress through life together. The fact remains that we can’t navigate through life totally alone, even as an adult. The truth is that God created us to be in relationship, first with Him, and then with those He has put in our lives. It is these relationships that have had a significant influence in shaping us into the person we are today.
My friends, these relationships and social interactions are vitally important to our survival. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently as I prepare to leave for a family reunion. My dad is one of 9 children with 36 first cousins. You can probably imagine how large this extended family has grown over the years, the numbers even surprise me. During this week-long reunion there will be around 200 family members who gather to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. The family has gathered every two years since the 1960’s, and I meet someone new every time. Keeping names straight and which family someone belongs to is near impossible, but everyone know they are connected. What a blessing!
How do you view the time spent with your friends and family? These reunions have always been special to me, but I don’t think I have ever truly stopped to reflect on the impact these relationships have had on my life. We are all social animals and no matter how extroverted or social you might be, the truth is that you cannot flourish without the help and relationships of others. So, as you get out and enjoy the summertime, reflect and value the relationships you have. Pay attention to the small things and to the good people in your life. As Dean Ornish so wisely reminds us, they are powerful determinants of our well-being and survival. As we nourish our important relationships, we can know that the best is yet to come!