A pack has 52 different cards. Once shuffled, no pack of cards will be in that particular order ever again. This is just statistics. The number of possible combinations of 52 cards is 52!, or 52 factorial, ie, 52 x 51 x 50 x 49… all the way down to one. The result is 8 with 67 zeroes after it!
You have a unique combination of encounters and relationships in your life, richer if it contains a mix of comfort and challenge. Be aware of this and intentional about it.
Different Strokes and Different Folks
We gain when we do not restrict our friendships to those who are like us and to those with whom we agree. Mixing with people who are different is very good for us, it helps us to grow and widens our vision.
I used to visit an old chap with learning difficulties. He was utterly unlike me. His flat was squalor, he spent most of his time playing video games and I was always wondering what I might catch from his coffee cups. But we became firm friends and he kept me from assuming everyone in the world was like me. I was very sad when he died a few years ago and I was privileged to give a eulogy at his funeral.
Don’t just have friends that agree with you, otherwise you will be missing out on fascinating discussions. Through limited behind-the-scenes glimpses, I have realised that many politicians are excellent at this. They can be on opposing parties and vehemently disagree but yet respect each other and enjoy a drink in the bar after the debate.
Levelling With You
There are different levels of friendship. Even Jesus had three very close disciples (Peter, James and John), a slighter larger group of 12 who were close, then a wider group of 72. It’s not a bad pattern. We need those with whom we can bare our souls, those with whom we can share everyday life stuff and then those who are business or social connections, only getting to see part of our lives.
Bank on it
Nurture your friendships. Don’t take them for granted, they will be in danger of slipping away. This is particularly true if you move to different parts of the country or different parts of the world.
Stephen Covey, in “Seven Habits or Highly Effective People” talks about “emotional bank accounts”. This is such a useful concept.
When we meet anyone we unconsciously open an emotional bank account with them. From then on we are either depositing or withdrawing. Every time we have a positive interaction with that person, every time we do something for them, spend time with them, ask how they are, listen to their story, give them a gift we are making deposits.
Every time we annoy them, take advantage of them, take them for granted, ignore them or hurt them then we are withdrawing from the account.
When we need a favour or forgiveness from them, their response will depend on the balance in the account. Think about it, the people who are most likely to forgive you are the ones to whom you have given the most.
How much time have spent with the friends that you want to nurture? Not enough? Then send them a card. Fix up to have lunch with them. Make a phone call, send a text. It’s not rocket science but it can make a huge difference.
Show your friends that you value them, cultivate the friendships and both you and they will be all the richer for it.