A few years ago, I was discussing different job opportunities with a close friend and expressing concern over where certain paths may take me. At one point in the conversation, he said, "It's not where you are, it's who you're with." I realized as soon as he said this that some of the opportunities I was considering would take me too far from those I loved.
I decided that maintaining close relationships was more important than increasing my income.
I think about what he said from time to time, and it reminds me that, in a world where everything seem disposable, people are not replaceable. Now, I am not saying it is wrong to further your career or try to maximize your income. Sometimes we are being called to pursue certain opportunities. However, I know that when I have chosen people over almost anything else, I have never regretted it.
I was on a flight recently between Washington DC and Charlotte when I began conversing with a man sitting next to me. It turns out that he works Monday-Friday in Washington and returns to Charlotte each weekend to see his family. He was under no financial pressure to do this but felt it would put him in line for a possible promotion in the future.
At the same time, he reported missing his family terribly and openly wondered if the arrangement was worth it. Time with his family had become his sacrifice and he did not seem particularly happy. He was discovering that "It's who you're with."
I have known many people entering retirement who had the freedom to live wherever they wanted. In deciding where to retire, they would discuss the weather, cost of living, and distance from loved ones for each potential location. More often than not, I have seen the factors prioritized in that order. This frequently results in a decision to retire in a tropical paradise nowhere near family or friends.
Over time, many who make that decision have reconsidered and relocated again to be closer to loved ones. They discovered that "It's who you're with."
We tend to lose sight of what truly matters in our lives and overvalue the unimportant. Many years ago, my personal quest for cars, houses, and boats was an example of this. I was missing the true richness in my life. I had a wonderful family who was supportive and loving. We all had our health and we enjoyed being around each other. Who could ask for more?
I was a success based solely on all of that. However, I cared as much about what was parked in my garage as I did about who was sitting at my dinner table. God had blessed be with these great relationships, but I chose not to see them as sufficient for fulfillment. I only discovered much later that "It's who you're with."
Those who possess this essential for building relationships recognize that people should always be the priority. This is evident in where they live, in how they spend their time, and in their lasting personal relationships.
In Genesis, we find a message stating that it is not good for man to be alone. God blessed us with each other. Recognizing the importance of those around us unlocks one of the true treasures of this life. Every person who has been placed in our lives is a gift. It is up to us to allow that gift to be a source of enrichment.