3 Things that Build Lasting Relationships

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Let’s stop for a minute and think. Our lives revolve around interacting with other people. Some people we like and others we don’t. Some interactions are good and others are not so good. I wish all the relationships in my life were pleasant and easy. The reality is that relationships, whether it’s your marriage or a friendship, take effort. And whether we like to admit it or not, our relationships matter and mold who we are.

The effort we put into our relationships will influence the course of our lives. The people we meet, the people we love, the people we encounter, our relationships with them can lead to marriage, lifelong friendships, and even our dream job.

According to God’s word, loving God and loving people is our greatest calling. If it’s important to God then it should be important to us. And if we do all things through love for him and others, then our relationships and life will be a whole lot rewarding and meaningful.

Deep down inside, even us introverts, long to build lasting and deep relationships. Even when we have a billion walls up to protect us, we long for fulfilling relationships.

Being married, losing friendships, and leading others have taught me that to build lasting relationships we gotta:

Be consistent
I’m convinced that consistency is the substance that makes up success. When we are consistent we exude trust, reliability, and legitimacy. How can a person who’s late and unreliable keep a job or get a promotion? The same goes for our friendships, marriages, and people we mentor. We have to be there for the people in our lives, in the good and the bad. It’s pretty sad when I realize that I tend to push people away when things get messy. If we study Christ’s attitude towards His relationships, we see His dedication, consistency, and involvement. He was always present, always encouraging, and always showed up.

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Show Grace
Stepping out to be Jesus’ hands and feet at times can cause us to feel helplessness, discouraged or even downright angry. When we are there for people we see the stuff we wish we didn’t. We encounter people’s hang ups and faults. There’s one thing that gives us the strength and courage to keep building our relationships when they get sticky. It’s called grace. When I got engaged I wish I would’ve known that grace was something I was going to need more than ever. If marriage has taught me anything, it’s taught me that grace goes a long way. It actually is what sustains a relationship. Grace tells me to care and love my husband even when he has offended or hurt me. Grace tells me to reach out to a friend who is being distant even if it means disposing of my pride. Grace tells me to stop being so hard on myself when the fish I “cooked” tastes like crap.
P.S. My cooking has gotten a lot better 😉

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Be Vulnerable
The glue that binds it all together is vulnerability. When I hear the word vulnerability the first things that come to mind are exposure and fear. But vulnerability isn’t meant to expose us in a way that’s detrimental. If we lose the fear of being rejected, isolated, or judged, we are open to vulnerability. And when we are vulnerable with the people we love, meaning we are unafraid to show all of who we are, we can show grace when it’s hard and we can be consistent in their lives. The times I’ve been the most vulnerable, in my career or with my husband or with God, have lead to a total “vulnerability hangover”. Have you ever experienced that? I start questioning myself: “Was I too honest, too outspoken, too open, too caring, too loving? Will letting down this wall make me seem weak?” But looking back it’s those moments that have forged relationships, opportunities and have opened doors of success.

To learn more about vulnerability, connection, and letting go of fear, I highly recommend reading Brené Browns, Daring Greatly. It has been an extreme blessing in my life!


What have you learned from past and present relationships about building lasting connections?

What is one practical way you can build your most valued relationships today?

6 Awesome ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day this Year

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What is Galentine’s day, you ask? Well if you’re a Parks and Recreations fan, you might already know.

But if you aren’t, and this is news to you, like it was to me, Galentine’s day is the day before Valentine’s day and it’s all about women celebrating women. And I think we need more of that these days.

In the Latin culture, Valentine’s day is “El dia de el amor y la amistad”. Meaning, a day to celebrate love and friendship. And I grew up celebrating it that way. It wasn’t until I was passed my awkward teenage stage, that I started having a “Valentine”. So I’m all for celebrating with girlfriends on Galentine’s day.

Why not celebrate the smart, wise, and strong women in your life that make you who you are?

Here are 6 awesome ways to celebrate with your closest girls:

  • Send them snail mail
    No emails, no texts, no Instagram posts. Send them a nice note through the mail. Let them know you value their friendship. Something tangible is much more meaningful.
  • Give them flowers
    Do you have any friends that are single? Maybe this is the only gift they’ll get. And who doesn’t like flowers?
  • Make a collage
    A real collage not an app generated collage. Something she can hang on her wall.
  • Give her a framed artwork (like the ones on the Styld by Grace Etsy Shop)
    Frame a motivational, fun, silly, or inspiring word/quote that she can hang.
  • Volunteer to help her with errands
    If she has kids, she will thank you so much for this.
  • Organize a girls night in
    No makeup, no phones, no heels. Just the girls, messy buns, wine glasses, and some chick flicks. Oh, and popcorn.

Cheers to celebrating your gal pals this Valentine’s season! 

Friendship: It’s not Always Hearts and Kisses

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I was getting ready to go to bed after a much-needed Facetime date with my sister, who recently moved away. My husband noticed that I wasn’t being myself and had been crying. Of course, he asked the inevitable questions, “Have you been crying?”. Now, you know what happens when someone asks that, right? You start crying again. And it’s not your normal crying face. No. It’s your really ugly crying face. Anyway, I went on a rant, trying to explain why I was crying, “I miss my sister. I miss my best friend. My sisters are my best friends. I need them close to me. I can’t make friends that are as close as a sister.”

The great thing about having best friends that are my family is that we don’t expect perfection from each other. We know our faults, our hurts, our attitudes, and we take each other as we are. Having that connection outside of a family circle, can be difficult. It dawned on me that it’s not easy to have close friends when you expect them to be perfect. Why couldn’t I take my friends just as they are like I did with my sister?

It would be ideal, and we would be living in a perfect world if everything was hearts and kisses. You know, like those cute emojis you send your friends? The reality is that, heartbreak and disappointments will happen in our relationships. If we expect for that to never happen, we are setting up our friends for failure.

Loving others sometimes will cause us emotional pain. We will get hurt and we will be disappointed. I am reminded of the love and dedication Jesus had for his disciples. He knew their thoughts, their intentions, their hearts. And still, he taught them and guided them with love. Jesus was betrayed and denied by his closest friends, yet He chose to love.

I believe Jesus shows us in God’s word that we should love unconditionally. He also shows us that we should forgive and move forward. Holding on to bitterness and resentment is poison to our souls and even to our bodies. The best choice we can make is to accept people’s flaws. If we can’t accept people’s flaws, how can we expect them to accept ours?

Honestly, it doesn’t really feel good to love my friends when they hurt me. My first response is to push them away or go into hiding for a bit. Sometimes I rehearse in my mind what I would say to them. Really mean things that would hurt them back. My mind tells me, “She’s not a good friend”. While my heart says, “Give her another chance. Show her God’s grace”. I’ve isolated friends and family from my life because of things that I could’ve resolved and decided to forgive. Only trial and error can teach you when it’s time to let go of a friendship and when not to. I have a feeling though, that God would have us forgive and forget rather than letting go of a friendship.

This crazy love that God calls us to demonstrate, takes so much dedication, commitment, and courage. It takes courage to confront an issue and forgive.

So how do we mend or prevent broken friendships?
We choose love over staying disappointed. We choose mercy when we feel hurt. We choose grace when we feel betrayed. And we choose peace when we feel heartbroken.

Is there anyone you need to make amends with today? Is there a friend you should take out to coffee and resolve an issue with? Is God asking you to forgive a friend or loved one today?

Be encouraged to be honest with your friends and loved ones when you’re hurt. And be encouraged to forgive them and embrace their frailties.

Meaningful Relationships and Messy Homes

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“A friend is someone with whom you dare to be yourself”. -Frank Crane

It’s interesting to me that many of the young women I talk to say they desire to have closer and more meaningful friendships. I can relate to that on many levels because it hasn’t always been easy for me to get close to my girlfriends. It definitely has taken me time and many failed attempts, to understand how to have meaningful relationships. What is it that stops us from making genuine connections with others? Is it our social media crazy society? Are we isolating ourselves more than we think? Or is it a lack of understanding on the importance of having relationships that mold us and empower us? Maybe we fear being rejected or neglected?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all those things. What I do know is that in order to form meaningful friendships you must be willing to be honest and vulnerable. You can’t expect someone to trust you, when you can’t trust them to see you for who you are.

I grew up in a household that was meticulously clean. My mom is the most organized person I know. She is so organized, that she could see the wrinkles underneath the comforter if I had made my bed in a rush. I never really understood what the big deal was until I started living on my own. The way you present yourself, your home, your work, says a lot about your character and what is important to you as an individual. When there are guests over our home, I make sure my home is clean, organized and welcoming. It’s part of being a good hostess.

But the problem begins when we get so caught up in perfection, that we forget to be ourselves. We forget that as imperfect beings, it is fine to not have it all together. How else will we be able to relate to each other, if we can’t let others see us when our “home” is a little messy? I admire people who can be themselves around anyone. I have friends that have taught me, just by being themselves, that it’s okay to be a work in progress.

If we want stronger and more meaningful friendships, we must be willing to let people see the ugly, too. Being vulnerable with others, frees them to be themselves as well. It’s risky to do that, but the rewards are endless.

A couple years ago, I was struggling with letting people into my personal life. I was very close to my sisters and family, but lacked other meaningful friendships outside of my family unit. My husband, who I was dating at the time, had friends in his life that he’d known for a very long time. He grew up with them and still had them in his life. I understood the importance of having women in my life that could relate to me and understand me on a level that perhaps someone many years older than me couldn’t.

There was a time in my life that I had many close friends. Lack of wisdom put me in situations that I didn’t know how to handle. Instead of being honest with myself and my friends, I isolated myself and lied to them about how I truly felt. Instead of breaking off a relationship, I stayed in it because I was too afraid to be honest and confront the truth. But how could I begin to let people into my life after being hurt and hurting others?

My sister told me something I will never forget: she said, “You just have to know who you can let into your home, who you can let onto your porch and who will simply walk on the sidewalk of your home”. She explained that the people you let into your home are people you can trust to see the good AND the bad. Those are people you know you can be vulnerable with and will not judge you or gossip about you. The people you let into your “home” are people who will tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. The people who you let onto your porch are people you are close to, but know you cannot share every part of your life with. For whatever reason, whether it’s for their sake or yours, you know it’s best to keep deep, personal matters from them. And the people on the sidewalk are people who you know will hurt and damage you. You will still love them and care for them, but they cannot have access to any of your personal matters. Those are people who are toxic and do not edify your life.

Slowly but surely, I have learned to be vulnerable and open up in my relationships. I’ve learned that being honest, as hard as it is, prevents you and others from being hurt. Being open also helps us determine who we can really trust as a confidant. Have there been times that I’ve been let down? Absolutely! But I get back up and keep being myself. Building meaningful relationships will force us to reveal our imperfections, our questions, our doubts and insecurities. We shouldn’t let the fear of being rejected or misunderstood, hinder us from nurturing the genuine relationships God intended us to have. The people God places in our lives, to make us better and mold us, will take the good and the bad. They will be willing to listen and speak in the appropriate times. We just have to be willing to open up our “homes” (hearts) to them, even when it’s a little messy inside.

So, what are some practical steps to take in order to having meaningful and genuine relationships?
1. Pray for wisdom to know who are the people in your life that you should be in your “home”, your “porch” and your “sidewalk.
2. Be willing to show your true friends who you are. Don’t hide the truth about what’s going on in your life. Allow them to BE a friend. Many times God uses the people around us to speak truth into our lives.
3. Schedule time to hang out with your friends. Reach out to them regularly and make sure they know you care about them and what’s going on in their lives.

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24 MSG

“A spoken reprimand is better than approval that’s never expressed. The wounds from a lover are worth it; kisses from an enemy do you in.” Proverbs 27:5-6 MSG

Have you ever experiences a time when you felt you needed meaningful relationships in your life? What are some practical steps you took to have them?

In the Presence of Sisterly Love

 

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Today’s blog is dedicated to the most important women in my life: my momma and two older sisters. They are the inspiration for this blog.

Growing up as the youngest of four (one older brother and two older sisters), I rarely felt the need or want to have many girl friends. My two older sisters, Olga and Monica, are my best friends. I tell them my struggles and hurts and they, for the most part, are there for me. I’ve continually felt their love and support through all the phases of my life. Our mother taught us to be that way. We don’t feel envy and jealousy towards each other. It’s not something we contemplate on or embrace in our relationship. A victory for them, is a victory for me and vise versa. It’s always been like that, and I pray that it will always be like that.

The blessing of having a healthy relationship with my sisters has stirred a longing in my heart for us, as women, to stop hating on each other and start building relationships that resemble a sisterhood. I’m not saying I never argue with my sisters or get mad at them (they annoy me sometimes), but I do feel like I can be honest and open with them. There is room for me to express myself and not feel judged. I know that even if we don’t agree on certain things, we will always be sisters. Nothing will take that away.

What if we learned to see our friendships like that? How would our community look like? How would our world look like? How would our churches look like? Sometimes it seems as if we’re just trying to “one-up” the girl that’s next to us. If she gets engaged before us, we freak out and think, “Dang! And I’m still single. I better find a man, quick!”. If she gets a better job, we get depressed and start feeling bad for ourselves. It’s a disservice to ourselves and others, to harbor envy, contention and jealousy. We will never reach our potential when we are too preoccupied with what others have over us. I once heard an ad on the radio that said “There will always be someone prettier, someone smarter, someone taller, someone funnier. But they’ll never be you”. That’s truth! I can only be the best version of me. And others should only worry about being the best version of themselves.

I cannot remember a time when I felt obligated to compare myself with my sisters. We were raised to embrace our unique personalities and talents. It took me a while to realize that the foundation my mom had formed in our family unit, should also be applied to the friendships in my life. When the lights when on, I learned to embrace other women, celebrate their achievements and be content with who I was. By content I don’t mean being mediocre, rather, feeling fortunate to be who God called me to be.

This week I heard a message from my Pastor about unity. He said that unity is something you work on. It is not something that just happens. While I digested that thought, I remembered a passage that says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:10, 11-13) All the words in this passage are an encouragement to take action. Building healthy, non-toxic relationships, will require action. And it doesn’t surprise me that the passage urges us to love each other with “brotherly” love. Loving others like a sister or brother, will take an effort. You will hurt for them, you will have to call them, you will have to make an effort to spend time with them and you will have to choose to celebrate their happiness even when you’re not feeling happy.

So many of us make the mistake of thinking that we can be called a friend without putting time and effort into the relationship. Yes, we all have busy lives and hectic schedules but you make time for the relationships you care for. My sisters always make time to talk to me, laugh with me and encourage me. They MAKE time. You can’t call someone your sister or friend when they only value your relationship enough to “squeeze” you into their schedule. It’s about valuing our relationships more than our personal agenda and personal gain. Let’s rise up to promote an environment where other women can be themselves, feel loved and feel united in our presence.

Shout out to my friend Cindy Diaz. She is a fabulous writer and has been editing my blog posts. You are the bomb!