National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

2011: The Year of Real Relationships

BY Matthew Warner

Register Blogger

January 16-29, 2011 Issue | Posted 1/7/11 at 1:47 PM

 

I borrowed this headline from a great post over on CatholicTechTips. It struck me as precisely the thing that I, personally, want this coming year to be about. And I think it’s a message that resonates with many of us who fill the pauses of our days gluttonously trying to suck up every drop of the endless fire hose of bits that spew forth from the Internet. Into our computers. Into our pockets. Into our cars. Into our homes. Into our silence.

For some of us, it’s news sources and other bits of interesting information. For some of us, it’s inspirational messages and newsletters and forwards and readings that pile up in our inboxes (and never get read). For others, it’s an overload of trivial information about what our friends just ordered for lunch or how they did on their exam. And for still others, it’s a constant stream of pictures of loved ones and updates on surgeries and sicknesses and prayer intentions, etc.

These are all inherently good things. The problem is that there is an endless amount of these good things. And we only have a capacity for so much of it, especially if we are going to live life well — with real and meaningful relationships.

There is so much information — knowledge — out there to be gained. There are billions of relationships to be started and nurtured. There are endless opportunities to learn, to grow and to build ourselves (and others) up. It’s a wonderful world.

But somewhere in my pursuit of all of it, in my frantic effort to “not miss out” or let any good opportunity pass me by, I find myself missing out on quite a bit. And despite my sleepless efforts, quite a bit still passes me by.

It’s humbling to realize how incapable and very little we are. But it’s inspiring to see how much God can do with our very little.

This year, instead of finding the most efficient way to consume the highest quantity of information, focus on really knowing the most important information. Instead of starting lots of relationships, focus on the small group of people that God has already placed around you. If you have real, quality relationships with that small group of people, the fruits of those relationships will be magnified exponentially as you empower others to do the same.

It’s also tempting to only focus on the low-hanging fruit by only embracing the relationships around you that are easy. Instead, pay special attention to the ones that are difficult. There are great treasures to be found there if you are willing to work at them.

I just cut my Facebook friend count by 75%. (Depending on how you’ve used Facebook in the past, something similar may help you.) And while it was sad to “unfriend” people who I knew to be wonderful people who I’m sure I could and would have fruitful relationships with, it was simply not physically and temporally possible for that to happen. And it was very satisfying to think about how much more fruitful my continued relationships are going to be with the remaining 25%. I am resolving in 2011 (with the help of God’s grace) to use these wonderful social-media tools and other technologies as an aid in building real, quality relationships with the people I know and love.

The primary communication and social medium that God has given to us is not the written word, the visual arts, the cell phone or the social network — it’s the human person. May every relationship find its beginning and end there. And may 2011 be a year of meaningful and real relationships.

Matthew Warner blogs at NCRegister.com.