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A Key Ingredient to Healthy Relationships

Too busy to build healthy relationships?
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A Key Ingredient to Healthy Relationships 

Are you always busy? Do you feel like you're missing out on building healthy relationships? Are you neglecting your friends or spouse?

It's easy to get set in our ways, requiring a schedule and filling it to the max. If anyone is guilty of committing this anti-social mistake, it's me. I love schedules. I love routine. I love making plans for my day and I love sticking to those plans. Once I get something in my head, it's decided. The box is checked. The day is mapped out. Make another suggestion and I'll say "nope, not doing it."

Development plans – I love those. Give me a little planning project and I'll love every minute of it! I am the very opposite of spontaneous.

So, why on earth am I writing an article on being spontaneous?

Well, because my husband and I had a little chat the other day about character. In particular, about me.

When we lived in Virginia, we often heard the all-too popular response: "Let me check my schedule and get back to you." People were always busy and they filled their schedules to the max. You were lucky to get thirty minutes of their time over a cup of coffee. In Colorado, things were more laid back and we could actually hang out with friends more often. But most of our friends still had busy lives…work and family and other activities. And we were busy, too. We always had something going on, it seemed (usually work-related), and eventually we got set in our ways. And that fit perfectly with my anti-social tendencies.

But now that we live in Alaska, we're seeing a totally different atmosphere. People don't seem to fill their schedules to the max a week or two in advance. Or maybe they're flexible and willing to make changes at the last minute. If it snows, they pack up all of their winter gear and head to the hill for some afternoon sledding. We weren't expecting such a close-knit community of friends! We were expecting to be off on our own, pretty much isolated from society. I laugh because that's so not what God had planned for us!

Being in Alaska changes everything for me. I can't sit in my office all day long for weeks at a time like I did before. Now I could be anti-social and never hang out with anyone. But in reality, that's not really who I am. I do care about people. I just don't know how to have fun in a crowd, what to talk about, or how to be a good friend. Those things aren't exactly my strong suit at the moment.

The point I want to get across is that we can't forget that life is about relationship. We were hard-wired for relationships, and if we get set in our ways, we'll miss out on the greatest opportunity of all.

Filling our schedules to the max doesn't give us room for spontaneity. Neither does refusing to sway on our plans. It creates walls around us and makes us appear untouchable, like we can't be bothered by anyone. It makes us appear anti-social. And that's not an effective way to grow a relationship.

I've noticed a theme this past week and it's very curious how it keeps popping up. First at church when the pastor talked about how our actions show what is in our heart, then very subtly in a letter from God (it was part of an exercise in a marriage study we're doing with our small group), and then in conversation with Harold and his reminder of what a friend had said to me right before our big move.

Has that ever happened to you? I bet it has. Whatever the thing is, it's something we need to take a closer look at. It's time to finally admit that maybe we need to change in that particular area. How can God use us for good when we're too busy to let him lead us?

Being spontaneous means we allow room in our schedule for new things that pop up. It means not getting set in our ways and never swaying from our plans. There's also something lively and enticing about people who are spontaneous. We do need time to rest, to stop and just relax with a good book or a cup of coffee. But we can't let that be our norm. We were meant to get out there and live life, so get off that couch and go have fun! Be spontaneous and outgoing and work on building those healthy relationships!

Jody Calkins
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