Automatic transfers might be, in my opinion, one of the greatest financial inventions. I love them because before I can get my hands on the money, part of it is tucked away for when I might really need it. I love to save without feeling the pain of parting with the money. Paying yourself first is a critical investment.
I continue to learn and relearn how important time and order can be. For example, if I waited to save what was left of my money, there wouldn’t be any to save. If I wait to save for retirement until I can see it coming, I will have missed all those years of interest income. Like dirty dishes, some things are easier to deal with right away, before they get “dried on and more difficult.”
Because I am a local leader in my church, I looked into opportunities in our community for group service. I also decided to make a personal investigation to discover what our community needs are. I was really surprised to learn that the greatest needs (other than continuing financial support) are relational. We need people who will commit to ongoing relationships with children and youth.
Committing to an ongoing, dependable relationship with a child or teen is not showy. It is a long-term investment without an immediate, visible result. It isn’t easily accomplished in a big group project. Some of the greatest needs are met one on one over time.
I was just reading an article by Bridgespan that said that the first five years of life are the most critical to the entire future of the child. They are working to set up non-profit efforts to reach out to these children so young that they won’t even remember it. Our little ones need us.
When you are watching a movie, how do you know who the villain is? Who is the hero? If you notice, the villain is not always evil and bad, and the hero is not always good. I differentiate them in two ways. First, by the perspective the audience is allowed to see. We can understand the good guy’s point of view and the reasons behind his or her actions.
Second, the first several times we meet the character, whether they seem good or bad, sets their role. The artists carefully control our first impressions and perspective. When we only get to know people on a superficial level, it is like characterizing them in a two hour show. First impressions harden on like dirty dishes. Without effort, we might never understand the “other’s” point of view.
Why Invest in Relationships?
As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to defeat an enemy is to make him your friend.” It is easy to make an enemy if we have shallow relationships. We don’t understand what others do or why they hurt us. It feels personal and uncalled for. We don’t really know them. That person is the enemy or the “other.”
Notice how patient you can be with the character flaws of your best friends and family that you love. We put up with so much! Maybe too much at times. This patience or being understanding of others is much easier when we understand where someone is coming from, what they struggle with, and what they are trying to accomplish. It doesn’t even take a life long commitment or constant close contact to love a person. But it does require that we take the time to actually get to know them.
In general, relationships are most difficult in the beginning. It takes effort and time. But then it becomes a gift that keeps on giving. When you are on the same team, it takes much less effort to maintain good feelings among friends. Knowing our friends also means that we know and can call on their strengths. A good friend is such a blessing. The sooner we make a friend, the longer we can have that relationship.
Strong relationships are built on small bricks of experience. A moment to listen, offering to help, or allowing someone else to influence you, combine to form a bedrock foundation. This foundation is tested in crisis. Will you be there, on the team, or on the outside looking in?
I have a friend dying of cancer. But, I can not be much comfort to her and her family. I did not know her well enough before. We don’t have the pathways of communication and comfort already in place. I’m on the outside looking in–wishing I could help more. Anything I do to show I care will, I’m sure, be appreciated, but it isn’t the same. I’m not going through it with them.
Foul weather friends
If you are already a close friend, those ties become more powerful in crisis. You are in the trenches together. You have a friend not in name only, but by your side through it all. Foul weather friends are few and precious. We all need people who will still be our friends during and after the devastations in our lives.
We also need mentors who believe in us and see our heroic potential through the inevitable trips and falls on our journey to becoming. We need people who see us as the protagonist come what may. Our experiences are not failures if someone can see them as the challenging adventures that always precede victories.
Tomatoes of Gold
I went to visit a friend recently. I found out she was horribly sick. I didn’t take her anything. I had just stopped in to see if she was okay and let her know I cared. When I left, I floated out. She had lifted me and even sent me home with a plate of fresh tomatoes.
I looked at the tomatoes and all they symbolized: our mutual feelings and the gift she is to me. I held them in knowing amazement. They were a physical, outward proof that we just can not give ourselves away without also ending up so blessed by the effort. Her friendship is a source of gold in my life.
So often we don’t do little things because they seem so little. What if I hadn’t stopped by because I had nothing physical to offer? What if she hadn’t shared her tomatoes because they were “just” tomatoes? What we do and give are not as significant as what they mean. I’m sure she can not know how meaningful her giving to me in her time of need meant to me. It was like receiving the widow’s mite. These small things are critical investments with miraculous dividends.
Never think you have nothing to give. The roles of friendship are not so clearly defined. You can not give without receiving. You can not receive without giving. Positive relationships are synergistic, projecting benefit to all in connection. Just being happy has been proven to have a measurable, positive effect on the happiness of your friend’s friends.
I hope you will take the time now to invest yourself
And share your “tomatoes.”
I know of no better way to become truly rich.
May your life be full and overflowing with such treasures.
DarEll S. Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com