I’m an analytical guy and data makes me happy. I like to slice it, dice it, and put it in a pivot table (nerd-level spreadsheet). The results of the data are not always pleasant, but I like having cold hard facts. One of those cold hard facts my mind has been curating examples of as of late is from Galatians 6:7b: “You will always harvest what you plant” (NLT). This principle goes by many terms: sowing and reaping, cause and effect, karma, law of reciprocity, and the Golden Rule, to name a few. One of my favorite “instant karma” moments is when a driver passes cars recklessly and soon finds themselves reaping those benefits in the company of our boys in blue. Most seeds take a little longer to produce, and therefore may be harder to notice.
Two weeks ago, I led a memorial service for a friend, and there were not enough seats for everyone who turned out to pay their respects. The back of the chapel was standing room only and the overflow room had even more people listening from there. What an overwhelming show of support. It was beautiful, really. Eulogy after eulogy relayed stories of the wisdom my friend freely shared, the trust he gave and inspired, the support provided in personal and professional endeavors, the listening ear, and the mounds of encouragement he gave. His son recounted the story of how his dad saved his life by just listening and telling him he was proud of him for who he was. I listened for nearly an hour to shared memories and was reminded of the last time I saw my friend.
December 29, 2022, all my kids and the ones they love gathered at his house for dinner. We sat in the living room and talked and talked. He held my granddaughter. We communed over the greatness of pineapple on pizza. I asked him about all the ship models and the medals and ribbons in his shadow box (he was a career Navy man). He told some great stories but for a few of them he just said, “that one’s classified.” I recalled how a year earlier, he made the effort to attend my son’s Navy reenlistment ceremony. When my wife, Nicole, and I were in Connecticut, he would make time to see us.
If you have ever farmed, or just had a garden, you know what grows is a result of what you plant. Equally important is maintaining a positive environment for growth with plenty of water and nutrients, and security from all that want to lay waste to your efforts. From my personal observations, and the stories that others had of my friend, it became clear that the outpouring of love was the reaping of his life’s work – the planting and tending to the soil. Harvest season is when the fruits and vegetables of your labor are evident and measurable, and funerals are a “harvest” of sorts. The seeds planted during our life, the environment we provided for those seeds to grow, and the importance we placed on relationships…all matter and become measurable.
I have heard it said that the routines and habits we have are perfectly tuned to provide our present results. My body reflects my eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. My faith reflects the time I spend with Jesus and my obedience to his leading. My financial situation reflects my money habits. You get the idea. But as I reflect on my relationship habits, I am convicted. I think I love people, but I don’t spend much time with them. There are people I run into a few times a month that I just LOVE but that I have put little effort into engaging with them more often. And I have the nerve to get into my feelings sometimes because I don’t have many friends that reach out to talk or just get together. And then I check MY outgoing phone, email, and text log…hmmm. I have to do better. I have to do differently.
People matter and the most effective way to show them that is through a relationship. Relationship is defined as “a connection, association, or involvement.” If I want things to change, I will need to put the effort into connecting more. I’ll need active involvement (read: do the contacting/inviting/initiating) instead of passively hoping paths cross or that someone reaches out to me. So, as I am writing this, I started a list of names in my phone of those people that come to mind that I miss spending time with or want to get to know. Then each week, I plan to text, email, or call at least one of them just to check-in. I’m not sure how to make this a habit yet, but I’ll be watching this for ideas (habit stacking). People are important. My faith tells me that. I want the people in my life to know that that means them.
What relationships need your attention? What ideas do you have for reconnecting with those you’ve lost touch with? Is there a relationship I can pray with you about? Email me here!