The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.
The first time I heard this quote, I immediately rebutted with an out loud, “Ya, ok…”
But then, my father in me, started looking at it like a math equation.
1 + 1 = 2
1 + 0 = 1
Take it even further.
1 x 1 = 1
1 x 0 = 0
There is no logical way you can add or multiply, and end up with less.
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. Because I was thinking it, too.
Being alone is important. Self love can only be achieved when you learn to love yourself, by yourself, for yourself.
Let me ask you one question.
During the time you’ve been alone, have you grown substantially as an empathetic, compassionate, emotionally strong and mature human being?
I want to tell you a story about someone I love very, very much. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you my own story.
My sister in law, Em, came up to the house one night, and in deep need of condolence. She was struggling.
After years of focusing on her education, and sacrificing large life moments and milestones because of it, she has found herself very close to receiving her doctorate at UC Davis. She is seriously kicking you know what in the professional education world.
Em has had some amazing moments over the last decade or so. Some spectacular memories, some fantastic opportunities, and has grown substantially as a wonderful, faithful human.
After a very long conversation and a few bottles of wine, her and Adam and myself found ourselves at a crossroads – Emily was craving connection. With us, her friends, someone to grow old with, God, and eventually, children.
For so long, Em has been focused on herself. And yes, she has been madly in love with someone, and thought for a long time she would marry him.
But then she didn’t.
Her immediate reaction was that she wanted some time alone. To focus and finish school. To graduate, find her place in the world of tenure and professing and to settle down. Her hesitation was that love would get in the way of all the hard work and sacrifices she has already made. And it felt necessary to be alone to work on the things within herself she wanted to work on. Those things, she told us, were:
- Prioritizing family
Since we didn’t have the emotional energy to cross yet another bridge of “what’s next,” we left the conversation at that cross roads.
If you find someone right away, see how it goes. If you don’t, that’s ok, too.
This was the day before I left for southern Cali, and on the plane, I listened to Dale Partridge say, “The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.”
This kind of tipped my opinion upside down. Until then, I had always thought that my time “alone” had been the most productive in growth. Upon further recollection, though, I realized that “alone” has a very negative connotation, and in many cases, is completely wrong.
- Yes, I had been “alone” when I moved home from college. But then I wasn’t. I had my family.
- Yes, I had been “alone” that afternoon, before I found God in the sunset. But then I wasn’t. My angel friend (we’ll talk about him another time) had brought me to Him.
- And then I had Him. And I was no longer alone.
- Yes, I had been “alone” when I learned I could be alone. But then I wasn’t. Adam walked around the corner and scooped me up and never left my side again.
- I have not been alone since.
Mind you, this part of my life happened within a 60 day span, the summer of 2009.
Ok, back to Em.
Upon my return from Disney, I learned that Emily had a date with someone, who we all have known for years. And that she was very excited about it.
That date was two nights later, and here is what her text said to me the next morning:
“Best. Date. Ever. I didn’t really feel like a first date. But you probably could have guessed I would say that. Thank you so much. I have never been so excited about anything or just life in general.”
Never been so excited about anything, or life in general.
I highly doubt Em would have been this excited about life in general after spending weeks alone, working on herself.
Since this date, Emily has called me nearly every day. We text all day, and she came to spend a week with us for Christmas. This is more communication I’ve had with Emily in over three years.
So, with one interaction with another person, who sparked her, she has already begun working on her three priorities. Communication. Family. Faith.
After this, I started journaling about marriage and relationships. Jotting down moments I remember from my own, things I’ve noticed and experiences I’ve witnessed.
None of them that have equated into more, or better, have happened alone.
I plan to write and share more about this theory, but I’d like to leave you with one last thought for the night.
Safety is found in the arms of love.