Episode 07 of Soul Food is about Relationships and can be viewed on the Soul Food YouTube channel. Here is the transcript …

I don’t know about you but the hardest thing about this global pandemic is not being able to catch up with my family and friends. Just to be able to sit down together, have a drink, and hang out.

Us humans were made for relationships. We have this innate need to belong, to have a tribe, and then to connect on a regular basis. Relationships are vital for our own well-being. 

Relationships are also ‘spatial’. They can be seen as occurring in a series of concentric circles.

  • In the outer circle, we have our acquaintances – the 100s if not 1000s of people we will interact with during our lifetime.
  • Then we have our casual friends – people we know by name and connect with from time to time. These are our neighbors, work associates, classmates, family members, or friends.
  • Next is the next inner circle are our close friends. These are people we spend more time with and with whom we have a lot in common. We enjoy their company and make an effort to hang out with them.
  • Finally, in the smallest circle are our 1-2 best friends.

How do you find a best friend? Well, it starts with choosing to be friendly and making lots of acquaintances. The more people we meet and interact within different settings, the more opportunities we have to make close friends. It’s an inexact science and often an awkward process but as we invest time and effort in our relationships with other people, good friendships usually emerge.

Relationships change over time and in different seasons and circumstances.

What is your current relational constellation

  • Who’s where and why?
  • Are there some changes that need to be made or simply acknowledged? 
  • Are there some friendships that need attention right now or a greater degree of your time and energy? All relationships need to be nurtured.

Another insight about relationships is that the degree of openness determines the degree of closeness in any friendship

I had a lunch with a friend a few years back. As we sat down I asked him how he was going. He said, “Awesome!” He then began to tell me all the good things happening in his life. When he was done, he asked me how I was doing. I paused and thought to myself, “Will I do the ‘awesome’ thing or will I be honest?” I chose the second option. So I said to him, “Actually, things have been a little tough lately. There have been a few challenges at work and …” I was simply honest and open with him about my life. The whole tone of the conversation changed. In fact, when I was done, he told me that he was doing that well either.

Openness encourages openness. Authenticity and vulnerability are essential in building close friendships. This is not easy, especially in a world that values ‘image’ and having it all together. 

Have you got a safe friend who asks you, “How are you going … really?” If you do, you are a truly blessed person. If you don’t, then take some steps today to build your friendship circles. Hopefully, over time, some safe people will emerge. What a gift they are!

Let’s recap our main points:

  1. Friendships and relationships are vital for our own well-being.
  2. Relationships are spacial, in that we each have a constellation of relationships that can be viewed as a series of concentric circles.
  3. Our relationships change over time and in different seasons. 
  4. All important relationships need nurturing. 
  5. The degree of openness determines the degree of closeness in any relationship.

That’s all for today. This has been Episode 07 of Soul Food with Mark Conner. See you next week!

To listen to a 20-minute message on ‘How to Improve Your Relationships’, visit Mark’s podcast channel.

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