In high school I worked really hard to get into a college far away from home. College was of course an opportunity to better myself educationally but if I’m completely honest it was also a way out. A government funded ride to “imma do me”-ville. A place where I could “find myself”, create my own life and live by my own freakin’ rules. As much as I loved my family I was more than ready to branch out.
Now that I’m older (and I’d like to think wiser) I find that much of who I am, how I see the world and what I have is because of my family and the sacrifices they’ve made. I also realized that I knew more about the daily happenings of my Facebook friends and colleagues than I did about my own siblings. With college, entering the work force, advancing my career, dating and trying to become a millionaire-I got pretty busy. But after spending the last 10 years of my life branching out, I wanted nothing more than to connect with my roots.
If while navigating your adulthood you find yourself less connected to your fam and loved ones here are 5 things you can do immediately to change it:
Create A Chat: There are plenty of free apps that allow you to create a messaging group that is invite only. You can do this on Facebook, GroupMe, Google or even through a group text. Create a virtual place for your family to post pictures, videos and communicate regularly.
Catch Up: Who are they now? We are constantly changing as people. If we pigeon hole our loved ones as rigid 1 dimensional cut outs of our upbringing then we miss out on the complexity and the uniqueness of who they are becoming. So ask questions. Discover what their days are like, their favorite things, current goals, recent accomplishments and what their experiences have taught them. Seek to understand and to accept. Believe that you’ll receive the same in return. Let openness and honesty bridge the gap between any amount of time that may have passed.
Take Note: When you hear of an important date, event or milestone write it down. The worst thing is to text someone on a significant day of theirs and not say anything. (SMH…I’ve done this.) So birthdays, graduations, big tests, recitals, first days of school, new jobs…etc. No mental notes allowed. Mark it in your calendar or add a phone memo so it doesn’t slip your mind. Schedule a reminder to alert you a week in advance so you have time to mail a card, get a gift or schedule lunch. These little things go a long way.
Plan Family Time: This does not include the family reunion. If something is important to you it will have a time and place in your schedule that is non negotiable. Not sure how to do this- let’s consider how the company you work for does it. It’s planned and you’re expected to show up and to perform because your livelihood depends on it. Well, the livelihood of our relationships depend on the quality time that we invest. Whether it’s a road trip for you and your sisters or a family night once a month to eat together, play games and watch a movie; plan something and commit to it.
Pray: This is most important. Now that you’re communicating, you know what their life entails and what their concerns are. Pray for their success, health and happiness. God can do much more than we can. The best thing about this is as you elevate the needs of others- God will honor your faith and take care of your needs. It’s a 2 for 1. Besides; prayer is the best thing you can do for someone you love.
It’s easy to get caught up in the game of life and sometimes very important people get benched on the sidelines. It happens. But it’s never too late to work on these relationships. Family and valuable friends are worth fighting for.