Cultivating Healthy Relationships
Posted October 19, 2021 by Jeannette Wilcock
Categories: Featured, Jeannette, Sister Post
I’ve heard it said, “Don’t rest on your laurels.” In other words, don’t take your life or relationships for granted. I’ve grown to see my relationships as a garden that may flourish or not depending on the proper care and attention I give to them. When I put in the time and the necessary work to develop them, I am able to witness the fruits of my labor. Some plants are strong and sturdy like the Laurel shrub and have many uses. Others are more fragile and need different care to survive.I have learned, and am still learning, to be intentional about my relationships as they may not be there tomorrow if I don’t put in the effort today.
Growing up, I didn’t have to work at the relationships I had with my sisters, they were my built-in buddies and I took that for granted at times. I thought my five sisters would always be there. We played, laughed, screamed, quietly giggled, fought, cried and dreamed together during our youth. Those sweet early memories didn’t last forever.
The reality of attending different schools, jobs, making different friends and boyfriends started to put distance between my sisters and me. As we got older, sometimes the distance would be in miles and at other times it would be in the heart. We never intended to separate in the heart, yet we were naturally caught up in our own lives and circumstances.This feeling of distance and separation that slipped in caught me by surprise because I assumed we would always be close.
It was about the time my husband and I had our first child and moved back home from Nashville that I realized if I was going to have a relationship with my sisters I would need to be intentional about it. My sisters and I decided to honor the gift of being sisters by planning our first yearly birthday dinner. We each brought a gift and enjoyed a meal together. It was the first time I could remember the six of us setting time aside like this for just us. There was laughter, remembering our past and who we used to be as children.It reminded me of the importance of putting effort into what mattered to me.
That deliberate decision to make these relationships a priority gave me a connection to my past, joy in the present, and hope for the future. Spending time and connecting with those who knew me and loved me (most of the time) as a child reminded me that I was alive and that my life mattered.
I continue to need that connection to be reminded of who I am. I have something unique and special to share and sometimes it takes those who know me best to remind me.
Since that first gathering so many years ago, we’ve turned our once a year dinner into a weekend event! We bring food, gifts, coffee, and wine. We share stories, lots of laughs, and cry a few tears. The location, ideas, and who is planning the weekend changes each time, but feeling refreshed, stimulated and reminded of who we are never changes. We are encouraged and inspired to live boldly because we refine and bring out the best in each other. Only true friends and sisters can do that!
This intentionality has seeped into other areas of my life. This is how I can write to you today and take action on what matters most to me. Our stories matter and have purpose. Yours and mine. When we are intentional about how we live our lives, we will do the dirty work of digging in the dirt of the past, pull up the weeds that have crowded our hearts, and cultivate the soil with time and commitment. We can then plant the seeds of lifelong friendships that bring healing and joy. In time, we will experience the fulfillment that comes from pursuing and protecting what matters most to us. As with a beautiful garden, when we are intentional about our relationships we will reap the rewards of the effort we put in.