I posted about my Dad's 80th birthday party. Another of the outstanding memories of that evening was seeing all the friends and relatives who came to his party and discovering how much time my Dad has invested in these people consistently over the years.
My Dad kept up a myriad of connections with his many sisters and brothers (4 sisters and 2 brothers lived into their 60's and beyond), cousins, nieces & nephews and work and army friends. Often these relationships have been maintained over the years solely by my Dad taking the initiative of regular contact whether that be visiting, phoning, writing or exchanging calendars!
Hearing this first hand from Dad's friends and relatives, telling me of the love that they have for him was and continues to be inspiring and very challenging to me. Which people have I invested in like this? Not many I fear.
Society is much more fractured in our time and our culture is one of immediate gratification and looking out for what we need and not what we can give others. And yet this contact and connection is what we all desire - to know and to be known.
Being a Christian in a church community there is also the added difficulty, indeed a paradox if you will. We are called to reach out to others, to make disciples, and in our church we are looking to see it grow in size and influence. However, we must not do this by sacrificing others along the way, discarding old friendships for the 'fun and excitement' of the new ones. Somehow we need to do both - care for our existing family whilst welcoming the new additions.
For me I know since leaving home many years ago I have lived quite independently of my family and always looked forward to building friends with work and church colleagues. But now I feel I need to make sure that the important people in my life - family and friends I have known for years - are invested in with time and effort. I will welcome opportunities to develop new friendships in the future but I want to make those count too.
I guess as I get older, I might just be getting a bit wiser and I can look at my Dad see the way he invests his time (love) into his friends and family (and is loved by them) and truly say I want to be like him.