Can Dart Boards and Spreadsheets Change Your Relationships?

Dec 14, 2009

Last week I stumbled across a blog post and it’s as if the writer read my mind. Check out this authentic post by Lindsey Nobles. And make sure you at least glance through some of the comments.

Relationships are important. They are the substance of life, which means they’re worth intentional investment, right? But lately I’ve wondered if I’m a “mile wide and inch deep.” Maybe I’m trying to embrace the masses and neglecting the deeper rewards of a few invested, intimate relationships.

Picture it like this: Relationship are plants filling a garden. I have one large bucket of water. Up until now, I’ve tried to divvy up equally between all of the plants (except for my husband and children, which get the biggest chunks of me). A teaspoon here, a teaspoon there. Not nearly enough to make any of those plants vibrant. Some may survive, but they won’t be as life-giving as they could have been.

Based on Lindsey’s post and some of my own introspection, here are two possible solutions:

  • Make a spreadsheet with three columns: Important Friends, Negative Friends and Draining Friends. Fill up the spreadsheet with names and determine to invest 80% of time and resources in the first category of relationships.
  • Draw a dartboard. Put three or four of your most valuable relationships (besides family) in the bulls eye. These relationships need to get the majority of your focus. Everyone else will fall outside the bulls eye in order of priority. A few might need to fall off the board altogether.

Even Jesus “categorized” friendships: the Crowds, the Seventy-two, the Twelve, and the Three. Looks like a bulls-eye diagram to me. Still, I struggle with the idea of categorizing people and relationships. It feels as if it’s in direct opposition to God’s command to love others. Don’t all people deserve love? Don’t all people deserve investment? And haven’t I sometimes been in that latter category of negative and draining people? Thank heavens I had a few friends willing to stick by me and help me out of my rut,

I’m looking for the intersection between healthy boundaries and a God-kind-of-love. Where do you think it falls?

10 Comments

  1. Lindsey Nobles

    I like the way you put this. Excited to hear what other folks think…

    Reply
  2. Susan

    You had an insightful comment of Jesus heavily investing in a few. His “12” VIPS influenced, their VIPS, and these VIPS influenced their VIPS, etc.

    It was like a chain reaction of an atom bomb – turning the world upside down.

    Susan

    Reply
  3. Michele

    Such a great thought, Susan. I hadn’t even considered the ripple effect!

    Reply
  4. Jerolyn

    Great subject Michele. It does get a bit tricky especially when you end up moving from one end of the nation and back again. Let me know when you get to that healthly intersection.

    Reply
  5. BeeBelle

    I think having a few of the deeper relationships is not just a nice-to-have, but vital to grounding myself and centering my life. For me, it’s the connection between my spirit and the Holy Spirit, reflected in another member of God’s creation, if that’s not too metaphorical. But, that could be a personality trait that makes this the easier part for me. I’m not sure every person sees this the same way. Personally, I have a deep Christian love for a wide net, but I feel at my spiritual best when I nurture and tend my close relationships.

    -Elizabeth

    Reply
  6. Kay Day

    I have no problems with categorizing my friends. I have some very close friends, good friends who could be better with some effort, regular friends, acquaintances, and people who I put up with.

    I think there is a difference in being a negative, draining person and going through a negative draining time. Some people never move out of it. I don’t invest my friendship allotment in those people.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t or can’t love them.

    Also, I think that I can’t be everyone’s best friend. God has some people for me and other people for the others.

    Reply
  7. Michele

    Jerolyn, moving makes the entire subject more complicated, doesn’t it? I’d imagine you’ve worked hard at maintaining and growing long-distance friendships since you move so often. Elizabeth, I LOVE your last sentence: “I have a deep Christian love for a wide net, but I feel at my spiritual best when I nurture and tend my close relationships.” Beautifully said, and full of wisdom.

    Reply
  8. mandythompson

    Wow. I’ve gotta get this all figured out for when we finally get cranked up back in Georgia with all our people… It already feels impossible, and we’re not there yet!

    Reply
  9. Michele

    Remember, no one eats a cow but one bite at a time. 😉 You’ll figure it out, but you’ll need to grace yourself with a few months of transition! So happy for you, M. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for you in GA!

    Reply

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