Donald Miller starts a series on his blog today titled, “Start Life Over: Stop Reacting to life and start living with intention.” Last week he wrote an introductory blog where you can download a free pdf file that outlines the five principles.
I’ve been fortunate to get a number of “do overs” in my life where after heading down a wrong path, I was redirected and started living a much better life. Although all five of Don’s principles are important, I think that the fourth has made the biggest difference in my life: “The fourth principle is this: You will become like the people you hang out with.”
Don continues, “It’s a fact. You are more than what you eat, how much you exercise or how much sleep you get. You are a conglomerate of the people you hang out with.”
I put this principle into action after a difficult time of battling breast cancer starting in 2006 and then a divorce in 2008. I had to make hard choices to give up friends and acquaintances that weren’t good for me.
I related to Don’s comments, “Shouldn’t we be gracious and forgiving? And my answer is yes. But what does being gracious and forgiving have to do with selling your soul? And if you’re people pleasing your way into relationships that are negatively affecting you, you’re definitely compromising your soul. The idea isn’t that we’re viewing ourselves as better than others, the idea is that we’re protecting ourselves from becoming somebody we don’t want to become.”
My previous tendency was to attract friends by giving them money or gifts, all in the name of being compassionate. But instead of healthy relationships, I chose people that ended up with a long-term dependence on me for finances or emotional support. I didn’t do them any real favors; they’re still seeking financial and emotional support from others. But I needed to protect myself from becoming like them.
Now, I’m purposefully hanging out with wonderful people who I can call “friends”. They are volunteers in their churches and communities and take care of family members in need. Their motivation is their love of Christ and their desire to show God’s love through their actions. They inspire me to follow God’s word, too.
It’s a fine line between serving others because God has asked you to, and serving others because you are manipulative and have a human need to be needed. The people I hang out with now are a constant reinforcement to me; I hope that I become more like them each day.
Blessings, my friend,