The Weekly Dream: Water into Blood

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so does a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
-Prov. 27:17

This month we have been celebrating family month. However, what is family? Is it the strict blood and legal status of individuals or is it something more? Why is it that there are people who you feel closer to than members in your own family. I think the underpinning of this is the complex web of human interaction. I have stated many times that all relationships are built on time and experience. There is a direct correlation to the quality of the relationship and these two factors. I like to call this quality the “fondness factor.” We are more fond of individuals with whom we spend our time and share our experiences. Why? Well, because human beings attach interpretation/perception to factual occurrences in the form of values, opinions, and emotions.

The other day, I was discussing how the younger generation do not know how to maintain relationships. How are we supposed to build functional families, friendships and marriages when a lot of times we have not seen one before? If we know what they look like, who is going to teach us the process that yields the final product? In our commodity-driven world, people get lost in the mix and are treated as replaceable, when in actuality, a functional relationship is blood, sweat, tears and a lot of forgiveness.

With that said, there is no bond that is more mysterious and complex than the one between siblings.

Stop Wearing My Shirt, Stay Out of My Stuff

I am the oldest of five children. However, anyone who knows my brothers that are closest to me in age know that we are three different people. This is something that always baffled me: We are three people, with the same parents, similar experiences and we came out completely different, yet there are enough similarities between us that you can tell we are related. I don’t understand it. I do know that all of us play a special role in our family structure, suited to our personality.

Our family always stressed the importance of maintaining our relationship, despite our differences. “Nothing comes between you and your brothers” is something that was often said in our house. It was really all for one and one for all. The DeVougas approach to ensuring this was to force substantial amounts of time with each other. For a long time, my every waking moment was spent with one of them. If one person went somewhere, we all had to go. If I was apart of something, my brothers were going to do it or come support it. We moved as a unit, despite our unique personalities. My family never had favorites, but ensured that no one thought he was smarter or better than the other.

As we became older and our differences became more pronounced, there was an adjustment period that we had to undergo, especially when I moved back to Wisconsin after college. My little brothers were no longer boys I could beat up for wearing my clothes and touching my things: they were men. We had to adapt to each other in those roles and accept each other as the men we were and were becoming. We had to understand boundaries and respect decisions. Without this understanding, there is no way we could have gone forward.

Brothers in the Struggle

Another layer of attachment comes with our friendships. During adolescence, it is normal for teens to feel closer to their peers than their family. Naturally, we gravitate to individuals who are going through the same phase of life we are going through. To this day, I feel a special fondness for my friends because I know that they are facing the same challenges, decisions and difficulties I am going through. They call me out when I am wrong and I appreciate that.

There are times when your blood relatives do not understand what you are dealing with, but others in the same predicament can. This does not mean that these individuals are more important than your blood. However, when you are going to war, you need good counsel and support.

The Grand Finale

This is why it is very important to be careful with whom we form these relationships and attachments to. Because as our fondness increases, so does the level of trust that is involved. I would trust my life with my brothers and those who I really consider my friends. They are people of character, integrity and honesty. These are people you can let your guard down with and share your hopes and dreams. So screen the people you form your attachments with. Watch how they treat their family and look at their morals and values (Hint: How people deal with money is a great litmus test as to who you are dealing with).

Our friends and siblings are a gift. Through our striving and interaction, we have helped form our personalities. I used to say to my brothers, “because I am who I am, you can be you and vice versa.” That is the closeness we share. Knowing that we are constantly changing and growing, it takes effort to maintain this balance.

If we want to experience a new dimension in our friendships and relationships in general, make an effort to become excellent at relationship management. We all our busy and life happens, but we make time for what is important. Personally, I try to call people and check on them while I am driving or waiting to let them know they were on my mind. And if some one calls me, I try to return their call within twenty four hours. This type of consistent relationship management cannot help but win you a lifetime of friendship and enduring relationships.

While it is true that people move in and out of our lives in seasons, we should make an effort to hold fast to those who we feel are important and want to stay in contact with. In the area of relationships, if you are not growing, you are dying. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. So, maintain relationships and hold fast to good friendships, they are hard to come by.

Ultimately, we are here to help each other and keep each other on this journey called life. I count my relationships with others as one of my most valuable assets. Therefore, I make it my business to maintain and reinforce the fondness within each and everyone of them. You cannot be your best without a little help.

Specialize in friendship.

To have friends, you must show yourself friendly.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M. DeVougas

Question of the Week: How do you strengthen your relationships?


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One response to “The Weekly Dream: Water into Blood”

  1. Raye says :

    I agree with your points one hundred percent, especially being the little sister that had to be dragged everywhere with the older brother. I am now in a stage of life where I actually understand why that had to be done, along with other things my parents had us do that seemed nonsensical when I was younger. I ended up forming lasting friendships with only one female (among a myriad of males) because few women could relate to my former nature of being tomboyish.

    And even though my brother and I seem as though “we came out the same way,” we grew up in two different places at two different times. He was with my parents when they were poor. I wasn’t. He grew up between the islands and the heart of Brooklyn – I grew up between the islands and Suburbia, New Jersey. The differences in our life experiences make us appreciate each other that much more. I learn new things about my brother every day, and vice-versa.

    I’d also like to add a point to the first paragraph you wrote, when you were talking about the definition of family. There’s an essential difference between family and relatives. I believe that relatives are those you share blood with, while a family is something you (figuratively, and sometimes literally) shed blood with/for.

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