It dawned on me in the shower this morning that something has happened that I’m not really sure how to feel about. On the one hand, this is a very good thing and it brings me joy. On the other, it is a sad reminder that not all is as I would have it be in my life.
What has happened is that the majority of people who I consider friends, who tell me about their lives and express a regular and sincere interest in mine have shifted locations. Two years ago, I would say that this majority existed outside of work, in the most general sense of location. Today, that majority now exists mostly within my workplace.
I don’t want to generalize too much. That is, I do have close friends outside of work, but most of my closest friends are now also called my co-workers. These are people who I have invested in and they now invest in me and take time out of their busy schedules to ask how I’m doing and expect the long answer, good or bad.
I think this is wonderful. If I am sent to shine in the darkness, then it seems that maybe something is going right.
But I don’t like that the majority has shifted to the workplace rather than grown into the workplace. I’m not sure what to do about that. I can think of people I have not invested in at church; people I consider friends who I have little doubt would say yes when I asked for time from them. There it is a simple thing of my own effort to build or rebuild those friendships, as the case may be.
I can also think of people I have invested in where nothing has come of it. The idea of investing in people comes from my days in InterVarsity at the University of Redlands. It’s the idea that you give your time to learn about and take part in the world of someone else. What I never remember getting taught about with regards to this was how to handle an effort to invest in someone that was not accepted. Or how to get into the world of people who are so overwhelmed that even time with friends is a burden. How to invest in people who have little or no room left to be invested in.
Maybe the quick answer is shake the dust from your feet and move on to those places where you can do something. Today that feels too much like giving up and carries with it the air of someone who thinks they too highly of their own selves. I think my response has been manifold. In some cases, I have increased my efforts to get to know people, in others I have backed off waiting to see if the effort will show some kind of evidence that it was worthwhile. Which is the better, who can say?
I do know this, I haven’t finished with the world outside of work, for good or for ill. I don’t know how much energy I have to effect a change in that realm of my life, but it is worth giving all I have to it.