We’ve all heard it said before. The famous quote by the great motivational speaker Jim Rohn goes:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Sometimes – scratch that – OFTENTIMES I forget how true that is. I’m someone who naturally trusts people until they prove the opposite. And I often go with the normal tendency of having convenient friendships. I’m also highly impressionable, and while that usually has a negative connotation, I’d like to stay that way, thank you very much. Being impressionable means I’m malleable, like a fossil rock. Although I consider this trait as a strength, I have to be careful about how it can become a weakness, and that being my ability to be influenced by bad examples. Just as a fossil rock shows the impression of a fossil, I know that I will exhibit the impression of whomever is close to me.
In case you don’t believe me – even though I’m very trustworthy, trust me! – here are the statistics:
- “Of wealthy, successful people, 86% associate with other successful people. But 96% of those struggling financially stick with others struggling financially. (Tom Corley)
- “According to a 2010 review of research [with 300,000 participants], the effect of social ties on life span is twice as strong as that of exercising, and equivalent to that of quitting smoking.” (Stephanie Pappas)
- “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
This weekend I realized that my closest friends constantly influence me, and thank God for that! So here they are, five of my influences:
- Jesus. (Some of you are scrambling to figure out if it’s heretical to say I’m the average of Jesus + 4 people… haha! Cool it. I’m merely saying Jesus is the biggest influence in my life.) Jesus reminds me daily that the thing that matters the most is LOVE. It doesn’t matter how much money I make, what title I have, or who I know. Jesus also reminds me that it doesn’t matter how many times I attend church, if I give all my money to charity, or if I go to Bible study. What matters is loving God and loving people. Anytime I talk with Jesus about a problem, He responds with love. Anytime I bring up a problem person (AKA frenemy), He tells me to respond with love. Jesus influences me in a million different ways, but the best of these is the way He shows me how to be loving.
- Russell. When we were first dating, I don’t think I realized how much his habits, dedication, and drive would influence me. But considering he’s the human with whom I spend every single day, obviously he makes a HUGE impression on me. The thing that recently caused me to realize his astonishing impression on my life is that it’s been a year since I’ve owned my own car. A year ago, Russell realized that I rarely drove my car. He lived 3 blocks away from me and we worked together, churched together, and socialized together. I didn’t need to drive. So Russell suggested that I sell my car so I could save that money for our wedding. I agreed, because it meant more time with my hunny boo. Russell taught me that although the cultural standard said that anyone with a good job should own her own car, I didn’t have to follow that standard. I could set my own standards based on my own priorities. Avoiding consumer debt is a priority, so we acted accordingly. Of no small coincidence, we were able to pay for our wedding without debt. And in the meanwhile, I get to spend more time in our car with my husband’s undivided attention! 🙂 I call that a win-win for the Jordans!
- Luisa. She is an avid reader, and I do not say that lightly. She has a goal – which she is over-achieving (duh!) – to read 1 book every week. That’s impressive in itself, but what’s more is that when she finishes a book early, say within a couple of days, she doesn’t cut herself any slack. She re-starts her goal and reads another book within the next 7 days. As for me, I also like books, but reading isn’t as big of a priority. Maybe it’s a priority in my head, but not effectually. Last year, I missed my 2016 reading goal, and I excused myself due to the whole “getting married” thing. But by the beginning of this year, I still wasn’t interested in reading. I was interested in Instagram, but not reading. I was piddling with books, but not excited…until Luisa. Luisa tells me every week what book she’s read, what she’s learned from it, and how she’s growing because of this new knowledge she’s gained. And every week, I’m a little bit envious of Luisa. So I decided to take on her habit. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve read 3 books – and I feel like a king eating delicacies. My brain feels rich! I have new knowledge…and oh my, the curiosity that knowledge brings is insatiable! I find that the more I learn, the more I want to learn. Luisa influences me to read more (and social media browse less)…which also happens to be one of my goals for 2017.
- Natalie. (Backstory: Natalie+Clay are married, and they were both in our wedding.) Natalie lives a block away, so yesterday, I asked her: “Mani/pedi…you down?” Expecting a “yes”, I started to put my accessories on to head out the door. Instead, I got a “No.” You see, Clay put Natalie on a tighter budget…so Natalie wasn’t getting her nails done as frequently…so now apparently I’m not getting my nails done as frequently. I did my own nails last night, and afterward I was glad I didn’t spend that $80+. But I’m even more glad for Natalie+Clay’s influence. This is essentially about more than salon visits. This is about a happily married couple who sticks to their goals, financial and otherwise, and who sacrifices temporary pleasures for long-term abundance. This is about a couple who works together to get to where they want to be. And more, this is about how Natalie+Clay constantly remind me of the teamwork required to live happily ever after.
- Megan. If you asked Megan, she would probably tell you that she is quiet and a bit shy like a lamb. But sometimes she reminds me of a lion – and both of these traits remind me of Jesus. Recently, Megan the lioness gleefully announced that Cameron+her are expecting! (Brief intermission: I AM SO SO SO SO EXCITED!!!!! *aLL tHe HaPPy EmOJis!!*) Anyway…Megan is 23 years old, married to her soulmate, owns her home, has a good job in a promising career doing exactly what she got her degree in. She’s pretty much the opposite of those cliché millennial memes. She’s extremely responsible and cautious, and she makes decisions based on long-term results. She’s a role model and a friend. But recently, when she announced she was pregnant, my mind started worrying, “What about that job you spend 60+ hours/week at? How will you take maternity leave? Who’s going to watch your child while you’re at work?” Silly Priska… Megan wasn’t worried at all, because Megan has faith. She spent the last year or more praying for the right job for her, and she has faith that God will bring the right job and that she will be home to raise her kids. She has the faith to step into the water, unknown of its depth or what creatures are there, but knowing that the Lord will sustain her walk. She has kept her eyes on Jesus this whole time.There’s an irony to this, because I’m thinking of this beautiful little song by Hillsong Worship titled “Oceans” (I say “little” in jest – it’s spent 61 weeks as the #1 Christian song according to Billboard…I guess it resonates with people?). I’ve sung these lyrics no less than a hundred times:
“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.
And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand…
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me”
And yet, while Megan is valiantly running into the unknown, my first thoughts are “What if you sink?!” Oh, the irony! Luckily, Megan hasn’t waivered in doubt. And as of this moment, she has a very promising lead on the best job she could have possibly imagined. One that would use and grow her gifts, surround her with wonderful people, and allow her the time to raise her family. Luckily for me, Megan influences me regularly, and the way she lives reminds me that faith sustains you through the unknown periods of life.
I cannot be thankful enough for the friendships God has gifted me with and how these friends influence me to become more like Jesus. And I COULD NOT over-estimate the impact these people have had on my own spirituality, personal growth, priorities, and discipline.
So why did I spend 1,000 words talking about me and my friends? How on earth does that help you?? The takeaway is this:
- You are influencing your closest friends. Is your influence what it should be?
- Your friends are influencing you. Do you see qualities, characteristics and habits in them that you hope to emulate? Because you will, good or bad, you will.