I’ve been out in the tool shed working on the next season of my You Were Made for This podcast. In between all the hammering, welding, and dust flying around, I’ve had time for some relationship reflections that I want to share with you. I trust you’ll find them helpful.
A Facebook post that honors Dad
A Facebook post I saw recently has been on my mind for days now. It told the story of what a great father my friend’s dad has been and what she learned from him. One thing in particular that captured my attention was her father’s view of pets. Her dad said if you’re going to have a pet, you have the responsibility of providing the best life you can for it. Hmm.
Most of the time responsibilities with pets seem like a burden. Like cleaning the litter box each day as I do for our pet cat, Father Patrick O’Malley.
The same is true in relationship responsibilities with people. Like taking your kids to school every day. Or helping them with their science fair project due tomorrow morning when you’re dog-tired tonight.
And then there’s the responsibility of caring for Mom when she asks what your name is every 30 seconds and where her husband is who died ten years ago.
Responsibilities can be privileges
But these same responsibilities can also be a privilege to provide the best life you can for whomever you care for. The phrase is growing on me. Provide the best life you can. Here’s why:
- It brings out the best in us when we provide the best life we can for people. We were made for this. It gets us out of ourselves and protects us from living a narrow, isolated life where everything is about me and little about you.
- To provide the best life possible for another gives meaning to life. It gives us purpose in making the world a better place, one relationship at a time. Even if that relationship is with an annoying co-worker on your team. We were never made to live solitary lives where we only provide the best life possible for ourselves.
- Providing the best life we can for someone exposes our limitations because we can’t do it all. It forces us to depend on God with the gifts and abilities He gives us. We can’t help everyone, and we can only help others experience the best life possible to varying degrees. Never completely.
- Providing the best life you can reflects the character of God. He has no limitations, but he does withhold blessings if it furthers his purpose for our life. Often to foster more dependence on him. Sometimes holding back on meeting the needs of someone will cause them to look to God instead of us. It can help them live a better life than they are now.
- Sometimes providing the best life you can for someone is letting people we love experience the consequences of their choices without interference from us. Like an elderly parent who demands people meet their needs they can meet themself, while all their life they criticized and alienated friends and family.
- Hospitality is all about providing the best life you can… for a short period of time. My wife, Janet is really good at this. We had a house guest recently for a week, who on the last day told us staying with us was like staying in a five-star hotel. Yet all we did was provide a mix of privacy and connection with us.
That and flowers.
I found a dozen roses on sale at our local grocery store for $9 that we shared with our guest. When she returned to her home in California she called and said one of the first things she was going to do was go out and buy flowers.
“They remind me of what a good time I had at your house. Thank you for taking such good care of me.”
Without even thinking about it, we provided the best life we could for our friend during her short time with us.
As an aside, flowers have a wonderful way of bringing joy into our lives. In fact, if I die before Janet I want her to put the following in my death notice:
In lieu of donations to the American Cancer Society, please send flowers. Yellow roses were his favorite.
Our California friend, a retired missionary, by the way, was an easy guest to host. Others have not been. But even with people who annoy us, we can still find satisfaction and a measure of joy when we focus on the process and not the person.
Doing what we can for others through the Spirit of God working through us enables us to live out Romans 12: 10
Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other
All this to say, if you have a pet, provide the best life you can for it. Better yet, with the people in your life, as far as you are able, provide the best life you can for them. Even if it’s just for a few moments.
What About You?
Who can you provide the best life possible for, particularly those who cannot or will not pay you back? Like inviting friends over to your home and enjoying their company, even though they never invite you to their home. Invite them anyway.
Who are the people you can interact with, discussing what’s going on in their life, even though they do not ask questions about the things going on in yours? Strike up a conversation and ask them questions anyway.
Other Relationship Resources
Last week’s blog post, “Relational Intelligence in the Age of the Artificial Kind”
Episode 020 of You Were Made for This, “Relating with People Who Talk Too Much”
Episode 139: “Why Should I Listen to this Podcast?”
THEM -The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others
There’s more where this comes from
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