An ancient story from the Hasidic tradition tells of a rabbi who had a conversation with God about Heaven and Hell. “I will show you Hell,” said the Lord, and led the rabbi into a room containing a group of famished, desperate people sitting around a large, circular table. In the center of the table rested an enormous pot of stew, more than enough for everyone. The smell of the stew was delicious and made the rabbi’s mouth water. Yet no one ate. Each diner at the table held a very long-handled spoon—long enough to reach the pot and scoop up a spoonful of stew, but too long to get the food into one’s mouth. The rabbi saw that their suffering was indeed terrible and bowed his head in compassion.
“Now I will show you Heaven,” said the Lord, and they entered another room, identical to the first—same large, round table, same enormous pot of stew, same long-handled spoons. Yet there was gaiety in the air: everyone appeared well nourished, plump, and exuberant. The rabbi could not understand and looked to the Lord. “It is simple,” said the Lord, “but it requires a certain skill. You see, the people in this room have learned to feed each other!”
The analogy above can easily be seen in so many contemporary relationships. People are famished, desperate for the “food” of connectivity, healthy communication and emotional support and because many don’t feed the significant others in their lives and they are not being fed themselves, the result is serious relationship disasters. A healthy relationship is one in which husband and wife, parent and child, sibling and sibling, or friend and friend, “feed” each other.
We suggest that our readers write a list of 8 things you could begin immediately to improve your relationships or work on your personal growth. And, we recommend that you review your list at the end of the month to see what you have actually started and begun to implement.
What do you want out of your relationship with your spouse (mother, sibling, best friend)? Is it friendship, dependability, honesty, shared values, financial and/or emotional support, unconditional love? Identifying one’s needs and wants in a relationship is often helpful in the process of self-examination, growth and healing. Are you being realistic? Are you being greedy? Are you honest?
What are you willing to give in each relationship? What you give is what you are investing to get. That’s an age-old paradox. Or, as stated by famous first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, “the most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give.” Basically, our relationships feed us or deprive us. If you are feeling deprived, first examine how much you are giving, how much you are sharing. Then do something about it.