Cultivate relationships of care

Chaplain’s Corneroliver edwards

Padre Oliver Edwards

Being in my 40s one of the first records (yeah, back in the day, you bought records – a collection of songs by the same artist intentionally arranged as an experience – with sides even!) I ever got into was Bryan Adams’ Reckless. On that album was a song that I thought was pretty good, though it was never a radio hit. The chorus went like this:

I need somebody
Somebody like you
Everybody needs somebody

Now, being Bryan Adams, and being the 80’s I am pretty sure his interest was in seducing a woman romantically, but the meaning points to something very important that all of us are more aware of coming out of the first widespread social distancing and quarantining of the public in a hundred years.

“We all Need Somebody”

We are not as self-reliant as we thought we were. Not by a country mile. We have all received a masterclass on the interconnectedness of the world we live in.

But as social restrictions lift and we are able to return to a sense of normalcy, the temptation is going to be strong to slip back into old habits, old routines, and old patterns. Patterns that are frankly unhealthy to say the least. Getting overly busy, allowing minutiae to dominate our lives. Slipping into utilitarian choices, considering only what we get out of things, events, occasions instead of what we can give. What is the antidote?

Cultivate relationships. Friendships. Not acquaintances, not work-friends, not drinking buddies, not social media followers. Cultivate relationships of care.

Relationships of care take two big ingredients to do well: intentionality and maintenance.

“Intend to be a Friend”

Relationships of care don’t happen by accident. Relationships of care develop over time, and as familiarity and trust grow. Those things don’t spring into existence overnight. It takes making intentional choices to reach out, to initiate, to seek out another person. When you initiate you demonstrate care and interest. We all want to be valued. We all want to be needed. But if we all just wait for someone else to value us, to need us, we will be waiting a long time for such relationships to develop. Even if you’re not an “initiator”, push past that discomfort. Don’t worry – the discomfort does go away as you get to know each other and trust builds. Be intentional in showing interest in and giving priority to another, and you will find yourself with someone who cares about you as well.

“Even Friendships need Maintenance”

Relationships of care also take maintenance. This is another one many of us fall down on. We meet someone, maybe over a common interest, like hanging out at the auto club or taking your toddler to a playgroup. But then maybe we get a new car that doesn’t need as much maintenance, or our toddler grows into school age. That transition time is when many such relationships fade out. Maintenance needs to kick in. Make time to keep in touch, to stay up to speed with each other. Do maintenance, and you will find yourself with friends who have walked with you through good times and bad, and know you better than you know yourself.

Maybe this is all self-evident to you. But it isn’t to everyone. As we live increasingly technology-filled lives, as we raise up the next generation in organized, scheduled, controlled environments, young people have less skill and experience in these things. Don’t take for granted that human relationships of care just happen.

Remember: if you want a friend, be a friend. Intend to be a friend.
And also that everything, even friendships need maintenance.

oliver.edwards@forces.gc.ca