The other night I did something I had been putting off for months. Once I got the idea, I sat on it for a while, but then in a rare flash of courage, I acted on it.
My idea was to invite a group of men to my house to tell them they were important to me, and to tell them why. I would, one by one, look each in the eye and give word to our relationship—review the history of our friendship, name what I admire about them, and give them a personalized gift.
I wanted to celebrate men who were important to me.
But what guy would willingly come to something like this? It had an emotional rating of “Stay Away” written all over it. That’s why I sat on the idea. But like I said, in a moment of guts probably spurred by my wife, I sent the invitation. But lest my invitation be denied, I didn’t say what we were going to do.
The men would have to trust me.
Amazingly, each of them accepted, and finally the other night, I celebrated the men I wanted to celebrate. It was still scary, but even good things are scary sometimes—and at the same time felt exhilarating to put on such courage, and even primal to be face-to-face honest like this. I wasn’t the only one who cried.
To close out the evening, I challenged them to do the same—tell their important people why they’re important to them. It didn’t have to look the same as my way, but do it nonetheless, scary and rare as it is. And you know what? I think they will.
Why should we tell people they’re important to us?
Just Because You Know Doesn’t Mean They Do
How often do we assume that just because we know “it” means other people do? George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” But they’re not inside our heads or hearts or correctly interpreting our actions. If someone is important to you, it’s worth saying.
Naming It Creates Thanksgiving
When I named why my friendships were important to me, it stirred thanksgiving in me. Eric’s overriding peace and John’s talent for fun and Bob’s faithful creativity and Ryan’s deep humility and Artur’s hunger for God and Steve-1’s easy generosity and Steve-2’s acute giftedness and Matthew’s merciful heart and Dominic’s holy endurance and Dan’s patient vision made me supremely thankful that these forces were acting upon my life. Thanksgiving is a great foundation for friendship.
Relationships Are Primary
There aren’t many things more primary than relationships. As soon as the first human being was created, it didn’t take long to realize he needed another. Leave a baby alone for too long and she won’t thrive. We were made to relate; it’s part of being human. You may appreciate your couch and remote control, but they’re not about to relate back, and your new purse might be very chic, but it’s not going to love you back. When we affirm our relationships, we’re tapping into something very primal.
Relational Courage Is Necessary and Valuable
This may sound stereotypical, but men could stand to toughen up in the area of relationships. Saying heartfelt things isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. If all good things were easy, everyone would do them. More often, it’s women who blaze the trail of hard-but-good relationship building. Courage in relationships is necessary and valuable to build better ones.
You Don’t Know If You’ll Have Tomorrow
I didn’t expect to get a blood clot in my lung, nor did the young bank teller bride from my hometown, who died from one. My parents’ neighbor didn’t expect to die last week—but he did—and surely 12 year-old Josephine’s parents didn’t expect to bury their daughter–but they did. Death comes for us all, so speak the truth while there’s still time.
So I challenge you to strap on courage and tell your important people why they’re important to you. Even good things are scary sometimes.