When the comedian Chris Farley was in school, he had one teacher who always told a “groaner” at the end of class. It was basically a poorly constructed dad joke that made the kids cringe.
One day, Chris decided to spice things up a little bit for his classmates. Chris snuck up on the other side of the curtain behind the teacher and dropped his pants. Just as the teacher concluded his awful joke, Chris stuck his butt cheeks through the crack in the curtain behind the professor, for all to see. The roar of laughter left the oblivious teacher feeling thrilled that his joke went over so well.
Chris never actually got punished for this after they learned about what he did because the school authorities thought it was so funny. Chris Farley would go on to spend the rest of his life making people laugh.
One part in his Biography, The Chris Farley Show, was very revealing to why Chris did some of the outlandish things that he did. He loved people and he loved seeing them happy, so making them laugh was his favorite thing to do. Every person who knew him well talked about how incredibly big his heart was. But laughter was also used for another purpose in his life. Making others laugh was an attempt to fill up something that felt empty inside of him.
When he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, he would make a habit of quitting and getting sober. He would get so many pats on the back and encouraging words and hugs from friends and family when he decided to step away from his bad habits. After a while, his sobriety became normal and he didn’t get the same kind of attention for it, so sobriety lost its luster. He once told his girlfriend, “Let’s relapse so we can get clean together again for the new year!”
Like Chris, we all have this void that we try to fill. Some with seemingly good habits and some with bad. We can do it with laughter or distraction, drugs, running, training, achieving in our careers; but no matter how much we get, we are left in the end feeling more empty than before.
I heard Tommy Breedlove once say,”Whether we care to admit it or not, internally, we all ask the 3 same questions: “Do you see me?” “Do you hear me?” “Do I matter?”
We need each other. But not in a superficial, shallow kind of way. We need each other in a call us on the carpet, lift us up when we need it and be there for us through it all, kind of way. There is a Proverb that says, “What each person desires is unfailing love.” — and I think that’s right. Real relationships fill a void that nothing else can; it’s what we were created for, so it’s a wise investment of time to do it well.
So what makes a relationship real and powerful in our lives? What are the qualities we need to find in those we should invest our time into?
Here’s what we want:
Vulnerability — Someone who will be real with me.
Shrek once eloquently stated, “Ogre’s are like onions, they have layers” — and people are like Ogres. We want someone who will let us in, not shut us out. Someone who will be real with us and bring us into their world. As we do this, we learn to understand and trust them.
As people are vulnerable with us, we feel more vulnerable with them and begin to open up. In the Bible, the writer James says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” In order to find the healing, we need to allow people in deep enough to heal the wound (that we may not even know we have) and that is certainly deeper than surface level. We don’t need bandaid friends. We are only as sick as our secrets and we need those that will be real with us, so we can be real with them.
Encouragement — Someone who will look for the gold in me and help me see what they see.
Truett Cathy the man who perfected the chicken sandwich once had a conversation with John Maxwell and said, “You know how to tell if people need encouragement?” “How?” John replied. “If they’re breathing.”
This isn’t just someone telling us something that any stranger can notice like, “I like your hair.”
It’s when someone pays attention to the details and takes the time to find the things under the surface to show us that they care. It’s when they notice the little details about our likes, dislikes, or how we communicate. It’s finding the things that we didn’t even know we were great at, and letting us know about them.
Commitment — Someone I can count on.
This is simple, someone who does what they say they will do — in the little and the big things. Someone who says, “I’ll call back in 5 minutes”, and they actually do. Someone who says that they will be there for the birthday party, and we don’t have to question whether or not they will be there. Someone who a secret is always safe with.
Accountability — Someone who will help me become better.
We want someone around us that cares too much for us to leave us as we are, but wants to see us become our best. We need someone who’s not scared to tell us that we have spinach in our teeth, a booger on our face or that we are wrong in an argument with our spouse.
The only way to reach our potential is to have others around us that will reveal the blindspots in us that we cannot see by ourselves. If you think you don’t have any blind-spots, then just take a moment, push your computer or phone aside, go look at yourself in a mirror and say this out loud, “That’s dumb.” And after that, if you still need to, just take a moment to think about why. You’re welcome.
Every one of us has blindspots. Unrevealed blindspots are dangerous, and if left unchecked, will cause damage. You can drive your car for a while, just gunning it through intersections and not checking the blindspots. For a while you’ll probably get away with it, but eventually, there’s going to be something there that you can’t see, and often those collisions are the worst.
Just incase you don’t know how to find these people and they sound like unicorns, keep reading.
How do we find these people?
In the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, there was an exercise to write out the dream partner that we desired to have. I was pumped about this homework, so I got to work describing every detail of the woman I would want to one day marry.
After I finished that I picked the book back up and was disappointed to find that the next step was to describe the man that she would want. “Well, that sucks”. The book proceeded to explain that to attract that woman, I would have to become the type of man she wanted.
This seemed like too slow of a solution, but over time, as I worked on my character, the right people showed up in my life (and I became better at identifying who I needed around me). I became someone that could add value to them and I became someone that they wanted to add value to.
Become the person you want to attract.
Are you someone who welcomes feedback and criticism openly and honestly? How about someone that others can count on? Are you open and honest, or passive and shallow? Do you seek for the gold in those around you and desire to see them excel, or do you think of what you will say next while they are talking and only look for what to get out of the relationship/transaction?
Latch on to those who have the qualities that you want to have.
When you find them, latch on to them. Find ways to add value to them and make their lives more rich. Become a collector of good people that will lift you up to be the person that you should be.
What you invest your life into, you will inevitably end up with and relationships are worth the time put in to make them great.