There are many sayings that reference the importance of role models, but one of my favorites is this one.
You are the sum of the people with whom you spend the most time.
Mandy and I have been very blessed to have fantastic relationships with people who have served as mentors for us. We are so thankful for the people who have influenced our lives and we really do believe that God put them all in our lives for a reason. In order to make ourselves better, we have to surround ourselves with people who will make us better. It almost makes too much sense when you say it that way, right? Why spend time hanging around people that put you down, make you feel insecure, or don’t line up with the values and morals that you hold? Sure, there are good people out there that don’t agree with you on everything and that’s just fine. However whether we like it or not, the people we associate with are going to influence the way the think, act, and speak – for good or bad. If you have a goal to improve in aspects of your life, find someone who you think is successful in that area and spend as much time with them as possible! Pick their brain, learn their habits, and find out exactly how they got to where they are. Building a network of folks who you admire is one of the biggest keys to success. Not only will you have great friends, but you can learn from them and grow as a person in the meantime.
I have a long way to go in my Christian life. I have come a long way from where I used to be, but I still have quite the mountain to climb in my walk with Christ. You know who is way higher on that climb than I am? Mandy. There are a multitude of reasons why I love to spend time with my wife, but her influence on my relationship with Jesus is very high on my list. Just seeing her go through her day gives me constant reminders of how I can be better. She may not realize it, but the little things that she does impact me, her high school girls, and anyone else she comes into contact with. Without getting way off topic, this is another huge point – a lot of the time we can’t see it but we influence others in a ton of ways. Some things may not seem important to us, but it could have a lasting impact on someone else. For that reason, it’s not only important to surround yourself with positive influences, but to live your own life as someone who others would want to be influenced by.
Being influenced by our friends is important if for no other reason than the amount of time that we spend with them. On the other hand, Mandy and I default to being intentional about things. Therefore, we made it a mission to seek out people in different seasons of life to help shape our own futures. We were so lucky to have had a fantastic small group at Buckhead Church led by an incredible couple. We learned so much from them and saw what a successful, Christian-based family can look like. They showed us how marriage can stay happy and how important these early years post-wedding can be in forming the foundation for our life together. Furthermore in Small Group Round #2, we are led by Steve and Sylvia Ypma and are in a group of people navigating the waters of pregnancy and young children. Mom and Mom-in-Law, if you are reading this – we are NOT pregnant nor do we have any intention of that happening soon. That said, this group has taught us so much about how we can focus on strengthening our marriage even through the incredibly stressful early years of children. They have been real about their struggles and not given us the rosy picture of the “Pinterest parents”. Even better? What a solid group of people who are wholeheartedly #FORGwinnett!
The influence of others has been pivotal in guiding the course of our marriage to this point and I only see that influence growing as we do. We have had a lot of experiences in our almost three years, but in many situations we are very much rookies. There are many things that we will run into that we will have no idea how to handle. In fact I would venture to say that I’ll probably fail at a lot more of those things than I will succeed, but I also know how to seek out guidance. Mandy and I aren’t afraid to admit when we need help and I believe that we will have an easier time for realizing that and reaching out.
Don’t wait until after things get tough – find a core group of friends who will build you up, seek out guidance from people who have been through it before, and listen to the advice of the people around you. You won’t regret it.