Sep 10, 2013

The Relationships We Build

 I sat in the audience this morning, surrounded by hundreds of college students, including my niece.
One of my favorite authors was speaking at Belmont University's convocation. 
 Students need a certain number of convo hours per year and Belmont fills the calendar with rich opportunities to expand their students knowledge.

Today there was laughter, applause and I believe an overall feeling of time well spent.
The speaker shared wisdom, writing a gentle, clear prescription to an age group that is sometimes hard to reach.
I think some were listening.
My niece turned to me at the end and said, "He was really good." 
I smiled.  
I knew her words to be true.

I considered introducing myself to Don, gushing over his books, insights I have learned, yada, yada. Every word would be true, but I stepped back and just took in the moment and breathed.
It felt wonderful to be on campus, where my daughter graduated a year ago. 
 She would call and tell me who she heard speak, knowing I would be jealous and wishing I lived close by so I could meet her and enjoy it together.

I left feeling my daughter would be proud of the fact that I held back.
She, the introvert, me.. not so much.
The author and speaker, also an introvert. His gift of words, lovely and clearly comfortable with his audience, yet honest about his preferences. 

I would be happy to speak in a group of two and learn all about who you are, yet also be comfortable in front of a thousand, sharing my life.
I also understand the lure of quiet, contemplative days... far from anyone, but God.
Surely, He made us to learn from both.
I refrained, besides I will be going back on Wednesday as he concludes his series of talks. 
Always another chance to leave a lasting impression...
He will be in Wichita in September speaking at a conference I am attending, so as you can see.. we clearly run in the same circles.
The author is Donald Miller.
His best sellers,  Blue Like Jazz, and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years
I immensely enjoyed these books,
yet the second one, I almost missed.
The beginning was a bit slow for me yet once it picked up it was a game changer.
I liked it so much I shared it with girls I mentored.

Each week I would read it to my high school ladies.
They were hungry for the ideas this book held.
They fell in love with the challenge and reality that they had choices as to the life they wanted to live. Starting now... as 17 year olds.

I had joined twitter world around this time. My first tweet was about Don's book and I included him in it. 
He responded and thanked me for sticking with the book. 
I was surprised and now I say that my first tweet was from a famous author. 

My daughter was like... "Mom, it figures!"

Back to this morning...
I wondered what Don would talk about.
After all, a few hundred early 20 somethings at 10 am and most of them "have to be there."
Well Don, I think you nailed it.

Don shared what he felt is the most important factor in determining if you are going to make it or not in this world.
The people you surround yourself with.

He briefly mentioned grades being important, but really when it comes down to it... who is influencing your life, right now? 
Who feeds into you and who are you influencing?
This is a great question for any age. We emulate those we spend time with.

 Don looks for two characteristics in people he allows in his life.
  1) people who tell the truth
2) people who show grace

Truth and grace will make or break a relationship every time.
Can I trust you to be honest and are you going to be kind to me when you tell me the truth?
If so, this relationship is the forever kind. 
I look at the people in my life, the ones I share my deepest thoughts with... they exhibit these characteristics. 

Don went on to say, "Just because people accept you doesn't make them good for you."

Think about that. 
How many people do we allow to take up space in our heads and hearts... when maybe they don't deserve it. 
Not because we are better than them, but because they suck the life out of us. 
Some relationships are unhealthy.
Do they make us better mates, parents, friends, coworkers, neighbors?

We must ask ourselves...  
What type of relationships are we building?
 Are we the people who exhibit honesty and grace or...  are we the negative influences, dragging others down?

We are one or the other and we cannot be both.
Pick one.


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