Ever walked in a mall and people watched for just a few minutes(or hours) ? The sightings are always rather comical. There's always the handful of people (usually inappropriately dressed) who make you say, "Where are that person's friends?!?! The truth is, they either don't have them or they left the ones that hold them accountable at home. Whatever the case, they are proof that we are in desperate need of accountable relationships in our lives, if only for the protection of the masses (sometimes a safety net to one is a safety net to all) :-). We need people who cry and laugh with us, people who root us on to victory, people who give us the "you know are wrong for that" look, people who let us know that 'he's just not that into you'. Not only do I pose the question of whether or not we have these kids of people in our lives, but also, what would our lives look like if EVERYONE had them. I've seen adults live reckless, boundless lives that land them in trouble at one point or another. I've seen the same adults get out of fixes to go back to the same lives, continually crafting an early demise.This is quite troubling, considering that a good friend with a solid piece of advice could have helped them avoid it all.
My pastor recently preached a series on the Top 5 most important relationships in life. Among them were the editor, the giver, the receiver and the true friend. As he belabored the point of how these relationships are indispensable, I thought about who these people were in my life. The many people that expected too much of me and the few people (thankfully the few) that expected too little. And whether I'd like to believe that I am an ideological island, these people all help me to shape my expectations of myself. I think of my mother who encouraged me (I think threatened is a better word) to stay in school when I thought my days would be better spent as a Colombian ranch hand. My girls in Greensboro who held me down (and often times held me back) from the temptations that beset the average college student. It's the only kind of positive peer pressure there is. And when you think of the many people that have helped you do the same, you'll probably be happy that folks don't leave you entirely to your own devices. That, or you'll resent people even more than ever. :-/ Whatever the case, when counting the cost to live, the gambles (good and bad) that we take to maximize our potential, we simply cannot afford to be without accountable relationships.
Sometimes it takes years to understand who these people are/were in your life. Sometimes, the purpose of a relationship is made clear by a tragic event or loss. But more often the tragedy is that we neglect, abuse and all but ruin these relationships without ever extracting the meaning or learning the lesson. Every true relationship in your life deserves this type of assessment. I mean, imagine our Congress with NO accountability. (If you are a skeptic like me, that's not so hard to do.) Without folks to asses their actions and call them on the carpet. The world would surely be a mess. Wait, it kind of is. Scratch that. But if Joe Wilson (the dude who yelled out during Obama's speech) didn't have people trying to run him out of office, we'd have to question the role of accountability in our democracy. Our lives reflect this very same concept. Accountability weaves itself in and out of the corners of our consciousness and morality, assessing the value of our decisions and our subsequent actions. Often, this thread gets lost and we need people to pull it through. So, if you would, do me a favor. Take some time to thank those people without whom you would be lost. Thank them for your past, even if you barely survived it. Thank them for your present. The richness and humor that they add to your days and nights. And lastly thank them for your future because while it is uncertain, you will certainly need them.