15 February 2011

Prioritizing Relationships: The Key to Finding Joy

Image courtesy of Kabils on Flickr

On my Facebook page, I wrote that "'Plain & Simple As That' exists to inspire readers to find freedom from stuff and to seek joy in others." But are the two really related, or are these mutually exclusive goals? I feel like I've pretty much found my freedom from stuff, but as far as finding joy in others, it's still a struggle. Just this morning, as I sat down to a moment of quiet time with my Bible, my journal, and my tea before Tiny & The Tot woke up, and I focused on my frustration with relationships.

I think my frustration stems from having a breadth of relationships rather than depth in my relationships. The question then, is how do you find joy in others and how do you nurture friendships so they grow deeper rather than just adding more friendships? I'm no expert here, but I think the key has to be communication. Real conversations. For me, that means becoming a better listener, learning to "see" people beyond the words they share, finding compassion for the situations they face even if they are a result of poor decisions. God knows I've made my share of poor decisions. I'd elaborate that point, but my mother reads these posts and I don't want to completely break her heart.

As I think about seeking joy in relationships, I realize I need to decide which ones are worth nurturing and then prioritize my time better to work on those few. Rather than spend my time reading and commenting on an acquaintance's Facebook status, I need to:

  • call my grandma who is in the hospital even though I don't know what to say.
  • call my grandpa even if he doesn't remember who I am.
  • make time to visit my best friends even though I have jealousy issues.
  • apologize for that thing I did when I was 14, even though the offendee might not think about it as often as I do.
  • engage in things that interest Tiny & the Tot even if it bores me to tears. 
  • spend more time with my husband and approach tough conversations even if it means we pay a babysitter.
  • pray more and seek God's direction, even when especially when I know I won't like the answer.

Living a life of simplicity should in theory free up time to do all these things, but it doesn't just happen. It requires time, patience, and effort. I guess in reality, it's not a really matter of simplicity after all; it's still a matter of priority. ~ Plain & Simple As That

I'd love to hear how you nurture your relationships and find joy in those around you rather than the stuff that may seem to surround you.


  1. Good stuff, Stacy! We should have another Fun City/park date soon and discuss!

  2. Great post. I'm still trying to figure out how to nurture relationships. I tend to keep people at arms length.

  3. This is the third time I've tried to comment on this so I'm praying it actually works this time!

    This post was great! As I look toward moving out, I have found myself focused on prioritizing my relationships, putting first the ones that will last when I'm gone.

    Your point about real conversations is huge! In the time of cell phones, facebook, webcam, etc, a true conversation is rare! It's been my experience that prioritizing relationships comes down to slowing down enough in life to enjoy the things and persons that truly matter. The plus side of slowing down, is that you're focused enough to see the people that don't really earn too much of your valuable time :)

    Another great post :D

  4. Stacy, you have such a gift for writing.

    When I make icing for cinnamon rolls, the consistency is thick yet pourable. Reading this post, with your eloquent sentences and poignantly direct points, makes me feel like I'm watching the lovely ribbons of icing being poured out on the rolls. If you listen closely, you can hear the rolls say, "aaaahhh."

    That's how I feel when I read your posts.

    Your words are truth.

    And now I need to go engage with my kids even though playing "fix-it" shop with Hot Wheels bores me to tears.

    Oh wait. It's 5:04 AM.

    I will go read the Bible, pray, and seek God's direction on several really big things that are before me right now...

    Love you, friend.

    PS - Am I a wordy bird today or what? I forgot to answer your question: I have to make a very conscious effort to nurture relationships outside of my nuclear family. I have about a teaspoon of agoraphobia mixed in with a cup of busyness with dashes of confusing kid afternoon nap schedules and lack of self-confidence whisked in.

    Sorry for taking up so much room in your comment area.


  5. Beautiful post Stacy. I really relate to this post..Mark and I have always had a great relationship and we are looked upon as weird. We spend almost 24 hours together and we talk incessive amounts with each other. He is always the first person I tell stuff to and we love to spend time with each other. Almost all of my friends bag on their husbands or ask me how can you spend so much time with him? When we haven't spent enough "quality" time together (too busy with the studio or the kids stuff)we feel it and know it is time for us. When things aren't right in our relationship nothing else seems to be right.

    I have searched many years for a "best friend" as an adult. I longed for a girlfriend to go and just do shopping for the kids with, do family outings with and such. There was many times that I thought I had found that person to really put a connection in my life with and they weren't interested in putting in the time. They wouldn't put in the effort of simple phone calls first, or asking let's go do this. I was always so disappointed and I booted most people to the curb because if they don't put in as much effort as me in making this a friendship it isn't worth it for me personally. I have never had a true best friend (other than Mark) for a super long time and it hurt me down deep ya know? I totally get this post and it is nice someone else feels the same. Thanks for writing. Angela

    p.s. I have been lucky enough to gain my "best friend" this last year and it feels so good to have someone care so much about my feelings, my family and just hang with me when I am feeling blah. We text or call each other about the weird little pleasures in life that happen throughout the day or the struggles we face each day. We can go shopping for the kids together and all I can say is I am in heaven. Blessed my prayer was finally answered.

  6. Wow... thank you all for the feedback. I really hesitated to post this, but it's been on my mind, so I thought, hey.. what's the worst that can happen when you spill your guts online? :)

    Ginny, my oh-so-eloquent friend... I've never been compared to icing before, but I suddenly want one of your cinnamon rolls.. I think we should have another tea date soon and partake of the lovlies!

    Michelle, it's hard when you move away. It's frustrating that ALL your vacation will be used to visit family, but it's worth it to maintain close ties.

    Denise, Yes! to Fun City!!!

    Kat, just found you on twitter and I love your blog. consider yourself followed :)

    and Angela, I long for what you speak of. We had that pre-children, but I think we have busied ourselves with kids and ministries and other "obligations."... must get back to that phase of life. I miss it! Thank you for sharing.