Recently I revamped my financial budget, in the process sat with some friends and threw some ideas around on the revamping. Which by the way looks great on paper but until you actually put the budget to work it really doesn’t add up to a hill of beans.
My mind wondered for a minute, as it usually does, and I began thinking about investing. Not investing money but investing time and investing in other people. We were truly investing precious time with each other. This almost felt foreign. I felt like a foreigner sitting in the kitchen of some friends being open, honest and vulnerable. I felt every emotion on the list below. After my soul settled, I felt content. These people were truly investing.
Google investing or invest; besides the typical financial definition we are all used to hearing, this also popped up. Provide or endow someone or something with (a particular quality or attribute). What a novel idea! This got the ole thinker thinking. . .
On those lines, what is the greatest gift one can give another? There is a whole array of items I can think of, but for me, the greatest gift that I was given was time. You see, someone took the time to invest in ME. Without that brief investment of time my soul could have been lost forever.
Time is precious and the moment shared, good or bad, is a portion of people’s lives that they won’t ever get back. When someone offers time or you need time. Its precious, don’t squander it.
So, I thought, why does this feel so foreign to me sometimes. Because our brain tells us otherwise. Hmmm I came up with this laundry list. Does it ring a bell? They ran the gamut….
- I’m not worthy enough
- They are undeserving
- I’m so busy, They’re so busy
- I’m Tired, They’re Tired
- My family needs me
- I’d have to be vulnerable, they’d have to be vulnerable
- Fear, anxiety
The list can linger on and on. I can enumerate many reasons why I won’t invest time and others won’t invest time. Excuses, which are selfishness to the core. I had a friend that was great at planning, inviting, encouraging but a crappy investor. A great spender, she was! Perhaps the most selfish act of all. This friend would tell us she would be at the event or plan the event but come event day the excuses rolled in. At some point in time, she would boast how much she wanted to invest in people. Soon the justifications would just fall from her mouth. That is simply investing in oneself and maybe spending time with others. God did not make us for spending he made us for investing. He doesn’t want us to live like this. We need fellowship and quality fellowship. Notice I said I had a friend.
I’m a Christian woman, in recovery, investing in others and having others invest in me goes a long long way. Perhaps longer than you may think. Here’s a few things to do to encourage and foster meaningful relationships with others, all with a small deposit of time.
I read an article about spending and investing time here is an excerpt I liked so I’ll share;
Spending time with people and building relationships is an investment, not because that process isn’t fun, but because the benefits of having strong long term friends are even greater than the immediate pleasure of hanging out with them.
Going to the gym is in investment. No matter how many presses I do today, I’m not going to be stronger or bigger immediately. But if I continue to go to the gym, I’ll become stronger over the long term. A good analogy for this might be a savings account, although I don’t think that does justice to the returns of working out. You keep putting something in over a long period of time, and eventually it pays off and continues to appreciate.
Being intentional when investing time in others goes further than one can comprehend. I’ll get to that later.
Another woman who invested a lot of time in me, early on in my sobriety told me ‘Mary, the greatest gift you can give someone is yourself”. She said to me “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you’ll do”! She re-iterated Jesus will always do that, without fail. Jesus was passionate about people and community. Therefore, we must be passionate as well.
Luke 6:31(ESV)31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
That statement holds a lot of water with me today as it should others. If I say I’m going to meet someone for coffee I had better mean it and if I said I was going to be there at 3 then be there at 3. If I said I would invest time in another person I better be ready to invest time. Ouch, right?
Be present, not just be present. I stink at this. Make a conscious effort to be fully present. Put the phone away, don’t get distracted. I have one of those fidget spinners and at Sunday service I had it in my hand and for the whole service did not look at my phone once. I was present! I heard the sermon and listened pretty intently. I overly impressed myself.
It doesn’t take much sometimes! When speaking with others. Be Present.
It’s easy to get distracted by the surroundings. I was out for coffee with a friend. We were deep in conversation about some very real events in her life. An acquaintance walked in. Our eyes caught and the conversation went from deep to ignorance in a blink of an eye. I probably had a 3-minute conversation with this friend. This brief encounter haunted me for a while. Why because the friend, whom I was having coffee with felt hurt. Why? She told me that she felt ignored, less than, unworthy and anxious. It wasn’t my intention but that’s what she felt. I owned it right then and there. Our relationship today is amazing.
Listening, I stink at this too. When someone is talking or asking a question stop and listen. Many times, I find myself on a rabbit trail, instead of listening. If I’m not listening or they aren’t listening we rob ourselves of growth. No matter how mundane the conversation, it’s important. I personally hate it when people cut me off at the pass or turn to another person as if what I was saying doesn’t matter. I do it, you do, it we all do it. Too many times people just don’t listen and it hurts to the core. Trust me. If it happens enough, I tire and move on. I don’t have time for people who don’t have time for me.
What does this equate too? I’m not sure but I think of Jesus mostly. I was prompted to check out Philippians. Here’s a guy, Paul, in prison, writing some pretty profound stuff. Philippians 2 rounds third base and heads for home, I believe. I’m no expert but I’d like to think that Paul wants us to live like Jesus and not be selfish and invest in others.
I‘ll get to that later. . . When I mentioned “I’ll get to that later” above, here is what I wanted to relay. In the context of addiction. I’ll give you some insight into the mind of and addict (previous life. . .now redeemed).
When an addict (use that term loosely please) is in active addiction people invest time for one reason. To get something from someone else, usually drugs, sex or money. There is no trust only shadiness. When said addict get sober that distrust or shadiness is so ingrained in their psyche that it’s hard to lift your head out of the sand. When one does start investing, that is super foreign. Let me indulge you with an example.
Mary, 30 plus years, of living in the shadows of addiction. Never knowing who she was, is suddenly thrust into the world, full on sober. Mary is expected to let others in to her life. Mary does just this, lets people in, is vulnerable, wants help, follows suggestions and starts to see gains. YAY Right!!! In walks a well-intentioned human. The well-intentioned human is less than intentional, less than present and less than listening. Sober Mary goes right back to addict Mary. Zero to 60. With these thoughts…. It’s no different so why bother. I’m sure some of you will say humans are human and you shouldn’t put your hope in a human (I’ve heard that before trust me). It’s not that the addict is or does not want full on help it’s just that the addict is used to people with ill-intentioned minds. “No one cares” that’s the MO! Addicts WANT someone to care! That person may just be you!
I work with addicts every day and if I have learned anything is be intentional, listen and be present. For years the addict did not have people who were willing to step into traffic with them and now that they do that person has to be well invested. Half assing it hurts more than helps.