I’m going to go out on a limb and make a bold claim:
People are the best investment you will ever make in your lifetime.
No investments into a 401k, stocks, bonds, or retirement savings account can do for your life what investing in people can. There is no financial expert that can guarantee you the kind of security and sense of well being that a friend can. There is no magical bank account that stores up your relationship interest for years making it more valuable for you until one day you are ready to use it. Yes, all of those things are important and have their place, but for the purpose of this post they are useless.
People are what you need to spend the majority of your time investing in. Why? Who Cares? Why are you telling us something so obvious?
Well I don’t know about you but I am not sitting here writing this post surrounded by a group of friends laughing and drinking coffee. I am alone in my living room, coffee on the table next to me, writing in the quiet of the early morning. And I am a little lonely if I am to be completely honest. I would much rather be doing Bible study with a friend or sweating it out alongside a running partner, or even just sitting with my husband watching the sun rise. Yes, I am content for the most part to sit here with my music and type. But sometimes I am not.
Sometimes I crave togetherness with people. Fellowship. Friendship. Laughter. Being a naturally introverted person who quite frequently gets exhausted by long bouts of interaction with others, even my closest friends, it has been kind of hard for me to realize that I need fellowship. I have gone so long without it in the past that I thought I was just fine. I tend to like people in small doses. One or two at a time in a nice quiet environment free from over-excitement and distractions. I like my well established circle of friends and family and I hate to admit it but I sometimes get overwhelmed at the thought of branching out beyond that. I often let just the “right” amount of people in to know the real me and leave little of myself for anyone else. Surface deep conversations about the weather and how old my daughter is seemed just fine to have with everyone else, but I slowly began to realize they didn’t feed my soul.
`A wise friend once told me that you need three types of friends in your life, your mentors who you go to to ask questions and seek wisdom from, your peers who are on your level living life alongside you slipping and falling and sharing in all the joy and disappointment of every day life, and the people who in turn look up to you for sound advice, wisdom, and support. All three of these relationship types are so important.
God made us for friendship, for love, for community.
There’s a delicate balance between pouring yourself out for others and being poured into by those who have lived more of the “stuff” of life than you. When you find this balance you’ll find yourself to be happier than ever.
Branching out and reaching beyond your comfort zone is scary. It’s overwhelming and intimidating and sometimes we get hurt by prickly people whose insides don’t match their outsides. Sometimes we feel more alone than ever. But sometimes, we gain another friend or sister or confidant. Sometimes it may not seem worth the effort, but sometimes it is.
I have learned that I have to be willing to take a chance on people. To be patient with people who do not share the same life experiences as I do. To have grace for those who seem a little less mature than I would like. I have had to learn what it means to be loving to everyone, not just those who are easy to love. Trust me, it’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be though. If it were easy we wouldn’t have needed Christ to come and show us how to do it. Because lets face it, compared to Christ we have nothing. No wisdom, no maturity, nothing to offer or give him that he doesn’t already have. Nothing but ourselves. And he knows that and yet still says that we are enough. Without Christ’s example of patient grace and kindness, without his illustration of acceptance and love, we wouldn’t even know where to begin.
It has taken me quite a while to get over fear, selfishness, and impatience to learn how to let people in. Some days I fail miserably and wonder why I even try. But God has used people to shape and change my life in ways I never knew were possible. These people were willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and comfort in order to meet my need for fellowship and support. They invested in me. Which in turn has illustrated to me the importance and benefit of investing in others as well.
We are not made to be lonely. To be alone.
God made us for relationships, they are the very basis for Christianity. The biggest requirement for our faith is that we love one another. If we can learn to do this the way Christ did, self sacrificing and patiently, we will be setting up our futures in a way that no financial planning ever could.
Relationships are not currency. You cannot use them to build mansions, to trade for food, or to become a millionaire. But you can gain from them something money will never give you and that’s love, contentment, comfort, fellowship, joy, and warmth. I for one, will take that over a retirement fund any day.
Photo Credit: http://www.in-dependent.org