I have spent several days this week at the Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. My mom had a hip replaced. In some respects a common procedure. She is, however, 81 years old with a knee that needs to be replaced etc. So–I have been at this sprawling medical complex for a few days. The place is full of patients and families.
People who have gone through serious illness or the death of a family member know that families often reveal themselves for what they are at such a time. For some families that can be a real comfort. For other families, that issue alone can make such a time even more difficult. One of the major issues of a family concerns how much we value one another. There are families where the high value they place on one another comes through loud, clear, and consistent. There are other families/marriages where such valuing may not come through quite as clearly.
Think for a moment about how we might communicate high value to one another:
- We can be emotionally engaged in another’s life. In many, many ways we communicate value by being very interested and concerned about another’s life. I have watched my mother-in-law for years communicate this through her interest in the details of her grand-children’s lives. Other people communicate this by regular communication with loved ones.
- We can "show up" at events that are important to a family member or friend. Many people communicate value when they show up for special moments. Going to funerals, graduations, baby showers, etc. are just a few examples of times when "showing up" communicates value.
- We can do something practical to communicate that we value a certain person. One of our daughters was in the hospital a few years ago. I remember one friend who called me several times each day to check on her. The first day she was in, he knocked on her hospital door. I stepped out into the hall and he said, "I just want to pray with you." He put his arm around my shoulders, bowed his head and prayed briefly in the hall. By what he did, he communicated value.
On the other hand, far to many people communicate mixed messages. We might say we love our families and friends but our behavior is not necessarily consistent with what we say. Think for a moment about how we might devalue one another:
- We can ignore or minimize another’s pain. I have seen people do this with all kinds of surgeries and diseases. "Oh, that kind of surgery. No big deal! Why I know this person, she had that surgery and she was back at work a few days later." Yeah… Or, sometimes people will focus so much on their cold, toothache, etc, that they don’t really see what a family member is going through. People minimize pain when they seem to be in a rush for people to get well and move on. "How is John doing since his wife died?" "Oh he is doing great!" Uhhh–Maybe.
- We can ignore or minimize someones special moments. Have you ever known friendships or families which seemed to be a big one sided? Maybe you went to all of their special functions but for some reason they never came to yours. After awhile, you might draw the conclusion that you are really not all that important to these people.
- We can make little effort to stay in touch. I have learned that if I don’t make the effort to stay in touch with someone, we will probably lose touch. Some people sit around and complain because friends, family, etc. do not call. Yes, it is frustrating to feel as if you are the one who must always take the initiative to stay in touch. Yet, I think this is a truth of life. (I hope I am not being cynical. I would like to think I am just being realistic.) The truth is,if I am going to stay in touch, I will have to take the intiative. Because some make no effort, that will feel one sided.
I may need to ask, "Do I communicate high worth to the people in my life who I care about most?" That question might be worth some thought…