Tag Archives: relationships
I have found myself missing fictional characters. Show cancellations, off-season times, or even a busy few days when I haven’t had a chance to watch something I am currently into – have actually made me miss the people on a show. This is just crazy. They. Are. Not. Real. I do not really know them. I do not have a relationship with them. And, yet, there it is. I miss them all the same. For cancelled shows, I miss the times we had together. For current ones, I ache for more times together. For deceased characters, I mourn. This is ridiculous, right?
Incredibly, I’m not alone on this. I have spoken to others who have similar experiences. Are we all crazy? More importantly, do we miss the real people in our lives as we spend our time with the imaginary ones instead? Probably not. There is something strangely comforting about our TV friends – to feel you know these “people” – how they feel, how they will react – that you see their inner thoughts and emotions – that you have a connection with them – you feel safe with them.
Not always with reality. Ever feel like you know your favorite TV characters better than you know your friends? There may be some plot twists, but you can usually predict a TV-friend’s behavior based on their previous character development. Not those real people in our lives. You think you know them, then realize you don’t. They are simply unpredictable. Suddenly what you thought was an episode of Friends is an M. Night Shyamalan movie. It makes you yearn for a good rerun.
I had someone ask me once if our real-life relationships shouldn’t be more like those on TV. Thirtysomething was used as the example. It seems the characters can say whatever they want to each other and still remain friends. Relationships remain intact because they care about each other. Unfortunately, no script ensures we all make up and continue in a loving manner within the hour. Each character can choose how the story progresses. There are no guarantees that what we say will be received how we want, or that forgiveness will be given. No director is forcing those things to happen. Our big blow-up may not be resolved by the end of sweeps week.
Still, I guess that’s what makes the shows appealing. We see on the screen what we wish would happen in our own lives. We see people who are more appealing than the ones around us. We can fall in love, burn with hatred, weep, or laugh uncontrollably, with no risk of how that person will respond to us.
The problem is…what? Oh yeah. It’s. Not. Real.
Real life involves risk. Real people can hurt us back. (But real friends can also love us back.) Real relationships are less convenient than watching a prerecorded show at your leisure. Real dramas aren’t always neatly resolved. Heck, some of our plot lines may end up as convoluted as a Lost finale. Who knows?
So, where does that leave us? Are our imaginary bonds unhealthy? Do they hurt our real ones by making them less appealing? Do we live too much on our Fantasy Islands? I’m not sure. Maybe we should ask Frasier?
I’ve started working on what will, God willing, turn into a book on biblical friendship. Perhaps this strange TV relationship topic will find its way onto those pages where God can help me sort it out more through His truth. Meanwhile, I guess we should try not to neglect real relationships in pursuit of a place..where everybody knows your name.
Some friends are movie friends. Some friends are gaming friends. Some friends are hiking friends. Others are biking friends. I know whom to call depending on what I am in the mood to do.
I know there are certain ways I can connect with certain people. Discussing a book with one person can make me feel very close to them, sharing common ideas and reflections. Another, we may never come close to reading the same material, but we share a love for the same game and can spend hours bonding over the board.
Are these factors any different in our relationship with God? There are many ways God speaks to us and connects with us. Some methods are much more effective with certain people. So, if we know a way we easily connect with God, do we determine to do it?
Recently, I was cleaning the house, and, as is usual for me, listening to my ipod while I cleaned. I had a choice of playlists. “Cleaning,” which is a mix of mostly upbeat, secular songs I can bop around to while I dust, or “Christian,” which is a collection of worship songs and contemporary Christian music. I was heading toward a bad mood at the time, starting to fill with annoyance, frustration, and general irritability. I thought I would probably be better off listening to the Christian playlist. For me, music is one of the easiest ways to draw closer to God. (The other one being nature.) But, I was a bit tired of the songs I have on that playlist, and wanted something “livelier,” so I went with “Cleaning.” An hour or so later, in a much worse mood, I reached for the ipod and actually thought the words “Fine, God, I’ll switch it!” Praise Him for His patience with my attitude. Can you guess which way my mood went after a few songs that brought my focus back on Christ?
Why was I reluctant to do what I knew I should do in order to connect more with the Lord? Would I hesitate to watch a shared favorite flick with a movie-watching friend? Would I not jump at the chance to scrapbook with my crafty friends?
If we know our love language with God – the way we most easily draw near to Him – we shouldn’t neglect it.
So, what happens if the only way I can connect with someone is to go sledding, and it’s the middle of summer? If I want to maintain that relationship, I have to find other ways to relate. It may not be as easy for me, or seem as fun, or feel as natural, but it is worth the effort for the closeness it sustains. The results may also be surprising. I may find that some new activity causes me to grow in a way I did not expect. Or, the relationship may jump to a new level simply because the environment has changed, causing new sides of our personalities to emerge. For example, line-dancing with gaming friends can bring a whole new dimension to the friendship.
Again, the same goes for our vertical relationship. If I am somewhere that I can’t listen to music, or it’s the dead of winter and I can’t get outside, do I simply not spend time with God? This is when I need to put other disciplines into practice. Yes, listening to a sermon may take more effort than singing a worship song, but it can have an amazing impact. Serving others in a new way can be extremely stretching, but also full of opportunities for growth. Who knows where God will take us if we are willing to put in the effort. We may soar on wings like eagles with our reading Friend.
You meet someone new. In just a few seconds, it’s determined. Click or Zoink. You just know.
You will never be close. There’s not necessarily any negativity present. Certainly no hatred. You just didn’t click, and never will. You can be civil, even friendly. You can hang out, get along, be around each other and have fun. But, there will not be that closeness, that feeling of familiarity, of total rightness, between you. It will just never happen, no matter how long you know each other or how much time you put into the relationship. That special bond will never form. Just ain’t gonna happen. Zoink.
There’s something there. A familiarity, a kinship, a bond. It may be weak at first. It may take a long time to develop. But it’s there, however faint or strong, immediately. You feel you’ve met a kindred spirit, someone you can be yourself around, someone whom you can understand and will understand you. It is this bond that is necessary to develop a life-long friendship, a closeness that does not come with others. Somehow, the hearts, the personalities, the minds, just fit. It just happens. Click.
In the past year, I have been learning some hard lessons on relationships. The syllabus has included priority, prominence, and price. I sat down one day to sort out some of what God was teaching me. The following is what appeared on the screen:
I was standing on a three-legged pedestal.
One leg was God.
One leg was family.
One leg was friends.
When the family leg wobbled and seem to break,
I leaned on the other two,
finding it hard to keep my balance,
When I felt the second leg shatter,
I didn’t know how to stay up.
I had been leaning on that friendship leg so hard and for so long,
I was left flailing my arms,
crying out to God to help me stay up.
I think he has let me fall.
I don’t think he wanted me on that particular pedestal.
Now I’m on the ground,
with nothing but Rock below me to build on.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” – Jesus, Matthew 7:24-25
On Christ the solid Rock I stand.
I have found that gaming is the secret passageway to one’s personality. If you really want to get to know someone, play a game with them. Yes, you can try the yawn-inducing mundane questions: ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘Where do you live?’ Oh, and ‘Did you grow up in this area?’ (That’s a good one.) You will gather many tidbits of information and be capable of writing a very factual report on the person by the end of the night.
Or…you can swim into deeper waters and find out how they perform when asked to draw the word “hallucination,” or imitate Jim Carrey, or get a teammate to say the word “goodbye” without saying “hello.” Learn the inner workings of their brain as you discover what they associate with the color red, what job they feel they were made for, or what they see in an inkblot. Glean their heart state as you witness their ability to win, to lose, and to work as a team. Analyze their skills as you discover their aptitudes for learning, negotiation, and strategy. Note their idiosyncrasies or diagnose disorders as they arrange game pieces and playing cards. (Mine are always very orderly.)
It really is a unique view into the depths of another’s psyche. Someone should have told Freud he didn’t need a couch, just a deck of Bicycle cards or a board with a Free Parking space.
Games induce laughter, thought, and communication at a new level. They help reveal different sides of self that mere conversation over coffee cannot draw out.
So, the next time you are faced with new faces, or even old ones, do yourself a favor and take the shortcut. Deal ‘em, roll ‘em, set ‘em up. It’s always a win.