Now that I like me, do I really like you?

We talked a few postings ago about how critical it is to learn to like ourselves. I really believe that until I can see myself as perhaps our Father in Heaven sees me, and love myself anyway, I don’t have the ability to see others that same way.

But I find that I like myself enough now to shine as brightly as I can.

Do you?

If so, now it’s time to look around us.

Who do we see?

Come on, look a little more closely.glasses

Are they okay? Are they lonely? Are they angry? Are they confident? Are they starving for simple recognition and a sense that they really do matter?

When you get to the point that you can see people as they really are, (and you CAN get to that point), then what?

It’s still all about the relationship. Remember, there are four basic categories: With our God, with our family, with our fellowmen, and with ourselves. As we work our way backwards through the list, let’s focus on our relationships with our fellowmen.

How do we develop, maintain and improve relationships?

Maybe we should back up a little and ask why relationships are so hard?

smilingThey are you know, for everyone. Even the people who seem to like everyone and have everyone like them. Relationships take a lot of work, and the work never really ends.

If it does, then usually so does the relationship.

I wonder if they are hard because we are different from each other. I wonder if they are hard because often we have to choose between what we want and what they want. I wonder if they are hard because, let’s face it, sometimes people really just bug us. I wonder if they are hard because sometimes things seem to go better for them than for us and it just isn’t fair. I wonder if they are hard because sometimes our head hurts too much or we are too tired or our pain is overwhelming and we don’t have the energy to just be nice.

I’m sure you have your own list. It would be a good list to take a look at. After all, it’s pretty hard to fix something that we don’t even know is broken.

cell phoneI’ve read many articles and seen news stories about the alarming trend of the technology-driven generation not being able to form real and lasting relationships. I guess this is only alarming to those who actually have real and lasting relationships. We know what they are missing.

But unfortunately, they don’t.

They actually think that what they are doing is communication.

I think part of it is the technology that comes so very naturally to them. But I also think there has been such a shift in afterschool and weekend activities for our children that they have no idea what it was like to just round up the neighborhood kids and play for several hours until it’s time for dinner.

You remember, when we played a game of ball, or climbed trees and became explorers, or rode our bikes and raced each other to the end of the block.playing-together

And when arguments and disagreements came up, and they always did, we were in the prime setting to learn how to work through those things ourselves.

It seems now, though, we leave it up to the referee.

And the parents calling each other and somehow working it out between themselves. Then they tell the child that it “has been taken care of.”

Really?

Many of us worry that we are robbing this next generation of the gift of first failing at, and then step by step succeeding at building and gaining real friends. Friends who have each other’s back. Friends who fight and then feel sorry and apologize and then move on laughing in the next game.

Of course, this system isn’t perfect.play There will be people who win the game and people who lose the game. This doesn’t have to mean that there are “winners and losers.” It’s just a game after all. That’s kind of hard to remember when there are uniforms and fees and parents there watching and yelling and paying for private lessons to make sure their child is on the winning team.

It really is okay to lose a game. It helps prepare us for when we fail a test, or lose a job, or experience the death of a loved one.

There will also be kids, like I was, who don’t really fit in, who would rather not play the game or the sport, or just not have to be with the other kids. Sometimes they didn’t like me.

And sometimes I didn’t really like them. sunset sihouetteBut my mother loved me enough to build me up, let me know I was loved, and then push me out the door.

Because in the end I found that I did fit in, I really had a good time playing the games, and I had friends. Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost, sometimes we fought, sometimes we laughed.boys-on-swing

But at the end of the day, what we really had was each other.

My mother couldn’t give me that. I had to learn it and take it for myself.

And in the process I learned how to read people’s emotions, look for the spark in their eyes (or lack of it), and actually care enough to do something about what I saw.

If you are a teen, or a twenty-something, or even a fifty-something, for heaven’s sake, put down that device.

And look.

If you are a parent of one of the above, love them enough to let them know they are worth the risk, and push them out the door, so to speak.

And let them look for themselves.

Now who do we see?

Look closely.depression2

Are they okay? Are they lonely? Are they angry? Are they confident? Are they starving for simple recognition and a sense that they really do matter? What are you going to do about it?

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