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The Lost Art of Relationship

It is ironic that as I sit here and write this, it is taking me away from relationship from those around me. It is difficult to write, think, process, analyze something specific (for me) while there are people around, noise to contend with, or distractions. I have committed to write these words without allowing my time on my computer to detract me from continuing to build relationships with my wife, daughters, family, friends, colleagues, and new acquaintances.

I am sure you have heard the expression, “it takes two to tango?” For someone to dance the tango, there needs to be a dance partner. It would look completely silly, and somewhat dangerous depending on which partner you are, to dance this difficult step alone. Just as the tango was designed to have two people face to face, arm in arm, relationships were meant to be in step with someone else, face to face and arm in arm.

Recently, a friend shared a video poem called “Look Up.” It can be found by clicking HERE.

In this video, we are encouraged to pull away from our smartphone, laptop, and computer screens so we don’t miss out on the enriching relationships we have right in front of us, or even the chance to begin a relationship with someone that could change our lives.

There are two schools of thought regarding social media and its affect on relationships. Some may say that social media has enhanced our relationships, broadening the boundaries of our lives, allowing us to stay connected or reconnect with people due to some kind of separation in relationship. Others say the very instrument that is supposed to unite us socially is tearing us apart from the relationships right inside our own homes, families, friends, work, etc.

Wherever you may stand on this issue of social media, which we will spend time on later, it is not a stretch to admit that there are consequences to looking at our screens. Leo Buscaglia, an author, motivational speaker and for a time a professor in the Department of Special Education at USC, once said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” We also underestimate the negative consequences to living our lives through our smartphones, computers, or gaming consoles.

No matter how young or how old you are, there is no substitute for relationship with a living, breathing person that is right there next to you. Like any substitute it satisfies for a while, but as time moves on that substitute becomes an addiction. You cannot get enough of it. Why? This is because a substitute never fully satisfies. Virtual friendships can only go so far. Your Facebook friends may reach 5,000, but how many of them are people you actually spend time with on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis? It may “feel” good to get dozens of “Likes” on a post, but it doesn’t come close to the “feeling” you get when you are there with a friend experiencing a side-splitting laugh.

I’m not a Facebook activist. As a matter of fact, I use Facebook regularly, as well as LinkedIn, and several other social media avenues. It is a tool to expand our networks, keep in touch with friends from the past, and even update family and friends on what is happening in your life. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sharing a funny or provocative thought, a picture, video or status update. However, just like anything in our lives, we can allow it to overtake us and it can become the very medium keeping you from truly enjoying a full, abundant life.

This BLOG is about relationships. Getting back to the quote from Leo Buscaglia, relationships are enhanced by our attention. If we are not paying attention to the object of our relationship, that very relationship will be compromised. We have psychologists, psychiatrists, social service counselors, pastors, priests, and sometimes police that aid us relationally with others, usually due to a problem that has arisen between two or more people. There are books upon books written to assist us in our relationships with our spouses, children and even with God.

All of this begs the question – is there an “art” to relationship? Have we lost the “art” of relationship with others? Why is it that some people seem to have a handle on relationship and others can strive their whole life and never develop a deep connection with someone else? Did those in the age before computers, telephones and the internet have relationship figured out? If we had relationship figured out, why is it that there are still wars between nations? Why is it that more technology has not helped solve relational issues? Where is the knowledge in how to connect with others and maintain that connection without miscommunication, misunderstandings, or conflict? Does true relationship even exist?

Every aspect of our lives is lived in relationship. Even the hermit who moves to the mountains because “people” have failed him or her soon becomes the one who does not know how to “relate” to others. We cannot escape it. We will be in contact with another human being, whether it is when we were an infant, in pre-school, elementary school, as teenagers, as adults, or as a senior citizen. We will see people in the grocery store, the bank, the mall, on the road, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and at our colleges, workplace, or gas stations.

There is literally NO POSSIBLE WAY to live this life without entering into at least one relationship.

Why is it important? Where do we learn about ideal relationships? Is there such a thing as a relationship without conflict? How do we get past our own pre-conceived notions, idiosyncrasies, ideations, and stereotypes in order to develop relationships with those not like us? Who do we take our example from? Where do we learn how to be in relationship? Is there any hope that we will all get along? Will this BLOG just be another “How to” when it comes to relationships?

Let’s discuss the reason for this BLOG. Because there are so many aspects to relationship it becomes difficult to narrow down this subject to one thing. The reason is this…in my life I have experienced good relationships, but not without conflict; bad relationships that were due to my undoing; short-term relationships; long-term relationships; manipulative relationships; relationships that I allowed to hold me back from my potential; mentoring relationships; trusting friendships; not-so-trusting acquaintances; the kind of relationships where trust was difficult; and the kind where loyalty and integrity ruled the day. It is because of these relationships, that I felt the need to write this BLOG. Through all of these different kinds of relationships and more, I have realized the innate NEED for relationship cannot be escaped. Therefore, if we are to live this life we would do well to understand this need and to discover together how we can enhance, grow, learn, build upon, and expand the boundaries of our relationships with and for a purpose.

Search with me to discover the Lost Art of Relationship.

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