The shortage of fuel after Hurricane Sandy parallels fuel for relationships often taken advantage of
In recent weeks, Hurricane Sandy has affected many dimensions of life in the greater New York area. Among this has been a shortage of fuel which has not been seen since the 1970s. Those who drive in the area are suddenly becoming acutely aware of how much they take for granted that they can fill up their vehicle with gas as rationing is now being implemented in both New Jersey and New York restricting when area residents can even attempt to buy gas. Just as fuel has become something that we take for granted, there are also elements that fuel our relationships that we also take for granted. What are some of these aspects?
- F: Family and Friends. When is the last time that you remained nice all day towards people you do not like or even do not respect and then came home and your frustrations came out directed at those you love? How many of your friends are you overdue to talk with or to get together with? Have you allowed other things to take up the time you should have spent to nurture these relationships, assuming that your family and friends will be there when you finally get time to spend with them? Many people realize how they have taken these significant relationships for granted when the person that is important to them dies or becomes less available because they have found other people to be involved with. The lesson of the fuel shortage reminds each of us to make family and friends a priority in our life before the shortage occurs.
- U: Understanding and Acceptance. In your significant relationships, you go through a number of different stages. A certain depth is found when you know that the other person understands who you are and you do not have to explain yourself because the other person already knows and accepts you for who you are, even if they do not agree with you. Being known at this level is one of the blessings that comes in a relationship, but is one of the things that is seldom reflected on or spoken of. When is the last time that you let the special people in your life know that you appreciate their understanding and acceptance? Have you recently not made it a priority to really understand someone who is significant in your life and accept who they are even when it is going against where you are at? The lesson of the fuel shortage reminds each of us to pay attention to understanding and acceptance in our relationships.
- E: Engagement from Others. The other side of acceptance is being willing to have someone engage you about things that are important to you and to even challenge what you hold dear. In your life, there is probably a small number of people who can engage you about your deepest hopes and dreams, about your core assumptions in life, about your overall life direction. These people help to make you stronger and help to give direction to your life. Do you set aside time on a regular basis to allow them to engage you? Do you stop them because you are too tired from the daily grind that you go through? Their engagement does not need huge blocks of time but it does require your openness. The lesson of the fuel shortage reminds each of us to make a priority in our relationships to allow significant others to engage us at our deeper levels.
- L: Love. Love is too often taken for granted as a relationship matures. It is important to not only maintain the love in your relationships but also to make sure that you express that love. This is just like the gas you use in your car – even when the issue is the cost of it, it is something that you too often take for granted. So, here again the lesson of the fuel shortage reminds each of us to not take love for granted whether we are in the early stages of a relationship or if we have been in that relationship for decades.
Paying attention to these four relationship aspects will help you to keep the fuel in your relationships. It is too easy to take each element of the FUEL for granted and when the fuel is suddenly (or gradually but suddenly discovered) to be in short supply, you may need to seek help to get your relationship back to the wholeness and peace that you desire. On the other hand, pay attention to the FUEL of your relationships and you will experience wholeness and peace in your life.