The summer following my freshman year in high school, I went and volunteered at Center Lake Bible Camp on the summer missions team. Coming from a home school background, friend choices were very scant (and don’t get me wrong–I’m so glad I was home schooled). Imagine my delight when I found myself surrounded by a whole swarm of similarly-aged high schoolers. I finally had the choice of who to befriend and that summer I made the closest, bestest friends who I thought would last forever.
But when camp was over, after exchanging contact info, we parted ways and, despite my desperate attempts to keep in contact, I discovered the brutal reality that not all good things last. For the most part, I lost touch with those friends.
Even though I am not still interacting with most of those friends, I do have marvelous memories of my time with them. And memories–the past–is one dimension of relationships. So in a way, even though I lost my friends, I didn’t lose them completely. However, just having memories doesn’t make the dimension alive, you have to actually consider these memories from time to time for this dimension to be active. It’s only when you are conscious of the past that it counts as being there.
The second dimension is the present–which is made active when I am currently friends with the person, keeping in touch, interacting. You can even bring a friendship into the present dimension just by thinking about the friend–since doing so is keeping the person and the relationship current.
The final dimension is the future. This dimension is made up of any plans or expectations for future relationship. For example, I had met a girl on campus and saw her every so often and, in passing, we would converse. But the relationship never had the future dimension until she said one day, “BethAnn, we should hang out!” When we both had expectations of a lasting relationship, the future dimension was activated.
While there is obviously more to any relationship than these dimensions, a general rule is that if you add a dimension, the given relationship is strengthened and if you take away a dimension, then the relationship is weakened.
Even when I am at college and away from family, I can keep my relationship with my sister strong if I make the conscious decision to, every so often, reminisce about (preferably with her) memories from the past with her. I also have to keep the relationship alive in the present, maybe calling, emailing, or visiting her every so often (or even just texting to let her know I’m thinking about her). The last dimension can be strengthened by reminding my sister that I plan to be her friend for the rest of our lives. I expect to keep in touch and I want our relationship to continue.
So what do you think? Have you experienced these different dimensions? Can you think of ways you’ve applied these? Do you have relationships with just one or two dimensions? Who are those people with whom you have 3-D relationships?