Welcome to episode 7, the year in review and the year ahead. I like to think of it as the best of 2018. But since we only started on November 28th, it’s also the ALL of 2018.
By way of a brief review, and for any first-time listeners, this podcasts is all about relationships. Experience and observation have taught me that relationships are one of the most rewarding aspects of life, and at the same time, one of the most frustrating.
The goal of this podcast is to help people experience more of the rewards of relationships, and less of the frustrations. Like many others, I firmly believe we are all made for relationships. We’re not meant to live life alone. That’s how the name of the podcast came to be, Your Were Made for This. The “this” we were made for is fulfilling, life-giving relationships.
It’s just the opposite of a what a recent Wall Street Journal article describes about baby boomers being the most isolated generation of all. I’ll have a link to the article at the end of the show notes. It’s entitled, “The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone.” When you read the stories of people, and how they’re living alone, well it’s really quite sad.
The purpose of this podcast is to somehow, in some small measure, stem the tide of loneliness by contributing something to help people transform their relationships into the best they can be. The podcast is to be something that actually helps people, rather just another outlet for creative expression. This podcast is to be about YOU, not me. Whether we’ve succeeded at this in the first 4 weeks of the show is up to you the listener to decide. But that’s my goal.
Another goal of the podcast is that it become a means of community for people who would like to to be encouraged by stories of others who are making progress in transforming their relationships into the best they can be. I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to work. Maybe it will be a Facebook group later, I don’t know. We’ll see.
Toward this goal, and for this last podcast of 2018, I want to share today selected responses I’ve received from listeners regarding the podcasts aired so far. I’ve received a fair number of emails and comments from people saying they like what they’re hearing so far. I’ve also received some feedback from folks with suggestions for ways to improve the podcast, which I’ve appreciated.
In today’s program I want to share responses of people who actually changed as a result of what they heard in one or more of the six episodes aired this year. Changed either their behavior, or the way they think. I plan to do something like this every now and then to foster a sense of community. As well as to encourage you in transforming YOUR relationships into the best they can be. So I would appreciate hearing from YOU with stories YOU have of applying what you’ve learned on this podcast. You can either leave comments in the box below in the show notes, send an email to email@example.com, or direct message me in Facebook.
Okay, on to the listener responses. In the very first episode, I mentioned that I plan to share relationship principles and skills through stories, both my own, and from guests I interview. The older I get, the more I appreciate what a powerful learning tool stories can be.
One story I shared at the end of episode one was the story of when I was 15 and a neighbor boy, we affectionately called Bozo, was killed. I mentioned the scene of watching my dad walking down the middle of our street, with his arms over the shoulder of the father of whose son had just died hours before. The picture of that scene is still vivid in my memory, and it was something that helped me see my relationship with my father in a new light, and to forgive him for how he treated me.
After hearing this story in episode one, one listener wrote to tell me,
“My husband and I listened to your 1st podcast. We were really gripped by the story of your dad and the death of Bozo. We talked about it and this morning called a friend who just this week lost his wife. Thanks, John. You are making a difference.”
I can’t tell you how much that encouraged me, to know someone took action, and actually did something to care for a hurting friend. It reminded me of a phrase I use often, and which you’ll hear on this podcast from time to time. And that is, when we try to bring out the best in others, we bring out the best in ourselves.
These 2 listeners trying to bring out the best that was in their grieving friend. I don’t know what they said to him, but I know this couple and they have a heart to help people. For the grieving husband to know someone cares enough to make a phone call to him has got to help deal with his sorrow.
In responding to Episode 2, “The Gift of a Background Relationship,” a listener from Pennsylvania wrote:
“I loved the story about the relationship you have with your mother-in-law…in your podcast you ask each to think about someone in their lives like this [ This was in reference to the end of the movie about Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be my Neighbor. The film showed co-workers of Mr. Rogers tearing up as they re-called people from their past who believed in them; who nurtured them.]
“It came to mind yesterday morning shortly after I got a doe on the last day of the PA deer season. I reflected on my father, a man of few words, but his actions spoke deep love. Until yesterday, I had not shed one tear over my father’s passing 9 years ago. But, up on the mountain, as I looked over the valley…, I thought of dad and how much I miss him. He would have loved the moment of hearing that I got a deer and he would have loved butchering it. It was how we connected. It was an emotional moment, a precious moment. I never felt I needed to shed a tear over dad’s death because all was good when God took him home. So those very few tears yesterday morning were ones of thankfulness and appreciation for God’s gift of my father to me.”
Man, that encouraged my heart to know the story of my relationship with my mother-in-law triggered something within this listener to reflect with appreciation on his relationship with his father. And to shed a few tears of gratitude for him.
Another response to episode 2 comes for a missionary serving in the Mideast. This person writes:
“I must say just as you were encouraged by seeing the kindness in Janet's singing with her mother, so I have always been positively affected by any time I have had with you. Listening to your family's Life Achievement Award list, or your caring for a trying dog, or your lovely memories of your mother-in-law had me laughing uncontrollably one moment and then soberly contemplating the truth that was being shared. How grateful I am for you, for your willingness to open your life so we, the listeners, can be trained in loving each other more fully. Thank you for including me in the privileged group that gets to listen!”
I think the more we open up our lives to each other, the greater the chance for a deeper relationship we can have with each other. We can learn to love well when we have the heart and take the time to watch how others love. We’re all teachers, for good or ill, because people are watching. More than we realize.
Episode 3, “The Gift for the Person who has Everything,” drew this response from a listener:
“I liked episode 3. I’m going to incorporate a ‘lifetime achievement award’ for my husband’s 60th birthday. I also subscribed to your podcast.”
This is great to hear. Something very practical this woman can do to honor her husband. It’s action she can take. Taking action, the right action, can be very helpful in transforming a good relationship already into the best relationship it can be. I plan to share more of these relationship tips, or hacks, as they’re now called, moving into 2019. There are specific relationship skills we’ll be examining and practicing in the months ahead.
Episode 4, “The Gift of Even Though,” evoked this response from a listener:
“Your podcast about joy and how sharing in others’ joy, multiples joy – it’s not a zero sum game. This really resonated with me! My husband and I have been able to have kids easily and when we are around friends who struggle with infertility, I feel guilty sharing the joys of my children. It was so beautiful to hear how your friends [Vern and Lorraine] had many “children” without having their own.”
I take this to mean, there was a change in thinking in how she viewed sharing the joy of her children with childless friends. By not sharing your joy, you may be depriving them of their joy. That joy, like love, is an unlimited natural resources that never depletes. In fact, the more you share in the joys of others, the more joy multiplies itself. It seems this perspective helps in easing any guilt feelings. After all, what is the listener guilty of? Being blessed with children.
I can understand there are times when we share our joy it is met with a “must be nice” response. That is painful, for sure. There’s that verse in the Bible about “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” That’s a command to be joyful over the joy of others, not a suggestion. For many of us that’s harder to do than to mourn with people, than to feel their pain.
Another listener, this one a missionary serving in Eastern Europe, wrote:
“I'm so glad you’d decided to do a podcast! I’ve listened to all of them so far and look forward to listening further. Glad I could be your connection in this part of the world!
“Over the past few years, I’ve found myself being placed in more ministry leadership-type positions. As my responsibilities have increased, and (potential) impact expanded, I’ve noticed that my limitations in relationships have restricted some of my potential influence. Plus, of course, I totally agree we are made for community, so this affects my own well being too. But, praise God I am a work in progress, can by his grace grow, and can learn from others, like yourself!”
What a great attitude, and such self-awareness! One relationship that gets less attention than it deserves is our relationship with our self. Self-awareness is such an important leadership trait. Without it, we suffer the consequences of exceeding our limitations, alienating people at times, and hindering the achievement of our organization’s goals. We’ll be talking about self-awareness in future episodes of You Were Made for This.
Finally, another listener wrote,
“Hi John, I just wanted to let you know how much the last two podcasts specific to joy meant to me. It made so much sense to me and gave Jesus/Others/You so much more meaning and depth.
I think with the last two especially you are finding your zone.”
All of this leads us to the main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence
Listening well to the relationships stories of others can teach us much to help transform our relationships into the best they can be
Response (Call to Action) to today’s show
You can encourage others by sharing stories here on this podcast of what you’re doing to help transform your relationships into the best they can be. It can be an action, or even a different way of thinking about your relationship.
You can either leave comments in the box below in the show notes, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or direct message me in Facebook. Your identity will be kept confidential.
Coming up next week…and next year
Next week’s episode the first of 2019, will feature our very first interview. The first of many to come in the new year. It’s a wonderful story of what a wife and her daughter did to care well for their husband/father. It’s a memorable and tender relationship story that I’m sure will find encouraging.
Quote of the Week
“We tell stories in order to better understand each other.”
– from Lark Rise to Candleford
Resources Mentioned on today’s show
Google Play: Previous episodes of You Were Made for This
December 12, 2018. Wall Street Journal article,
“The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone.”
From the Bible, Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Lark Rise to Candleford the BBC series that ran for four seasons, 2008-11. Free with Amazon Prime.
THEM – The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others pages 204-5.