Hello everyone and welcome to episode 109, Rekindle Relationships by Remembering.
Because of the global pandemic, it had been about 15 months since my wife Janet and I last saw our friend in person. I’ll call her “Katherine,” a name I’m making up because she is a very private person and dislikes any attention drawn to her. She’ll probably cringe when she hears this episode.
But as we near the tail-end of Covid-19’s grip on us all, Katherine did something so beautiful that I need to share it with all of you. It was such a kind and thoughtful gesture that rekindled her relationship with my wife Janet. It was something we can all do with our own relationships.
Keep listening to pick up a great idea or two to stimulate your thinking of how you can come out from our global relational hibernation.
My story starts with a phone call from Katherine. She asked if anyone was going to be home because she wanted to drop something off for Janet.
When Katherine arrived Janet hadn’t gotten home yet, so she gave me a card to give her and a medium-size house plant. What followed was a simple, natural, heartfelt expression of the ORA principle of deepening one’s relationships we’ve been talking about in recent episodes: Observe – Remember – Ask. If you’re new to the podcast I’ll have links in the show notes to an episode or two explaining this concept.
For today though, I’m going to change the A in ORA to something else, which I’ll explain in a minute.
The Observe component of ORA started off with Katherine saying,
“I’ve been thinking about Janet and how her mom died over a year ago, but because of Covid the memorial service she wanted to have for her never happened.”
At this point Katherine started to get a little choked up, but continued, “I’ve been thinking how hard that must have been Janet, and how hard it must be now a year later because I know she had such a close relationship with mother. So I want her to have this plant; it’s just like the one I have. It’s easy to maintain, and when she looks at it, I hope it reminds her of her Mom.”
So what does this have to do with Observe?
Katherine observed something within herself in thinking how life must be for Janet, a year past her mother’s death, unable to have honored her mom with a normal memorial service because of Covid. She put herself in Janet’s shoes and imagined how she must feel. It's a great way to rekindle relationships with someone you have not seen in a while.
I saw Katherine’s empathy for Janet as she choked up in explaining about the plant. Katherine was feeling what she imagined Janet was feeling. It was really quite touching for me to see this in Katherine.
Like Janet’s mom, Katherine’s mother also suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. I wonder if this shared experience enabled Katherine to more closely identify with Janet.
So what about the Remember component of ORA? Where does that come in here?
I hope that’s obvious, Katherine remembered a year ago when Janet’s mother died and couldn’t grieve in the normal way we grieve when a loved one dies. It was more difficult to remember, because there was no personal face-to-face contact over the past 15 months. A Zoom conversation and maybe a phone call took place, but Katherine’s work kept her extremely busy, away from interpersonal contact with friends.
Observing what was going on inside her emotionally, and remembering what Janet must be going through, prompted Katherine to move to the next stage of ORA.
I wonder what difficult things your friends have gone through that would be helpful for you to remember and then respond as Katherine did.
In the past, I’ve said the A in ORA stood for Ask. Ask questions, Inquire. Don’t assume. Find out stuff first hand. Get people to define their terms. But this encounter with Katherine leads me to change the A from Ask to Act. Because that was what Katherine did. She acted.
Now, I don’t want to disregard “Ask” altogether. Asking is one form of acting. I’m sure we’ll come back to this from time to time.
In this situation, Katherine acted by bringing Janet a plant she thought she would like because it was a plant Katherine herself liked. And because she thought it would remind Janet of her mom, and that one of her friends cared and understood the loss she was experienced.
In addition to the plant, Katherine also dropped off a card for Janet. It's a simple, but meaningful thing to do when you want to rekindle relationships.
By the time Janet got home, Katherine had left. She was quite taken by the plant and told me she had been looking for a plant just that size. Then she opened the card from Katherine.
The Greeting Card
Now I need to tell you Janet is one of those people who really pays attention to greeting cards, and spends time searching for just the right one that captures whatever thought or emotion she wants to express.
Katherine’s card was just perfect. It would have been the kind of card Janet would have picked out herself for someone.
The cover of the card shows a straw hat placed on the seat of an empty chair. It's placed outside among a group of black-eyed Susans and other wildflowers. At the bottom of the cover is simply the word, “She” followed by the tilde punctuation mark, ~.
When you open the card, at the top, you see the imprint, “was quite a lady.” That’s it. The whole card simply stated, She was quite a lady.
Katherine then wrote in her own beautiful handwriting,
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how you miss your mom every day, and that it must be especially hard on days like Mother’s Day. From the stories you and John have told, I know that you inherited a lot of her qualities – you too are kind, a good cook, a servant, Keeper of a warm and inviting home, and always there for your kids and grandkids. Even though you miss her more than I can imagine, a part of her lives on in you, and you are passing on her legacy to your children and grandchildren as you love and care for them. Because you – like your mother – are also quite a lady.
With much love,
After reading the card, Janet was quite moved by it and called Katherine to thank her for it and the plant.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to rekindle relationships in YOUR life? Here are a few ideas:
I bet if you were to think about it, you could come up with the name of a friend or two who’s been in relational hibernation because of the pandemic. And I suspect in thinking about such a friend, you can probably recall a significant life event they’ve experienced recently. Maybe the anniversary of the death of a loved one, liked Katherine remembered. Or maybe the joy of a graduation or a birth. Or maybe a happy or sad experience your friend is going through now.
After your effort to remember, ask God to show you what action he’d like you to take to acknowledge what your friend might be experiencing. Some action that lets your friend know you care. Just ask God. He’ll tell you what to do.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
Coming out of the Covid pandemic is a great opportunity to rekindle relationships by blessing someone with a God-inspired action you can take.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode about rekindling relationships by remembering. Just send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing, if you found the podcast helpful, please subscribe if you haven’t already done so.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
If you’re new to the podcast, you might want to check out some of the prior episodes that talk about the ORA principle for deepening our relationships. I list four of them with their links in the show notes. Episodes 89 and 90, as well as episodes 93 and 96.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.
Related episodes you may want to listen to
096: Meaningful Questions Create Meaningful Relationships
093: Remembering Deepens Our Relationships
090: Encourage ourself by observing others
089: How to be a better observer of people
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