Who Are You Hanging Out With?

 

I grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood.

A walk down main street left me breathless. As a young kid I heard more languages than I could believe were possibly spoken on the same planet. Walk into a supermarket and the plethora of foods, vegetables, meat cuts, colors, smells stopped you in your tracks. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of these sensations which were outside my family experience. That was of course, until my School became multiethnic and my friends in School reflected the diverse cultures. They invited me to share in their foods, their fun as well as meet their families. Language or no language I adopted bits of the cultures. I was hungry to learn ‘the languages’ so our relationships could grow beyond the feeling and emotion. It was a fun association.

Thank God not all associations are so welcoming. There were other associations too. The group of dopeheads, for example. They were friendly but didn’t exactly want me around. I would be the party pooper. Me ‘watching’ perhaps but with definite doubts about participating did not make the ‘high’ so much fun. It was the same with the drinking group too. Friends but not friends. Perhaps my presence added a layer of guilt or a touch of sensibility that the excesses didn’t really bring happiness. Only headache, bad grades and frankly deep set anger. Nobody wants the party pooper around. The party pooper didn’t want to hang around with that either.

There is tremendous power in association. Social study after study show that you will become like the people you associate with. Or they will become like you. Hang around the poor and you will most likely be or become poor. Hang around the rich and you will most likely be or become rich. Hang around people without hopes, dreams, character, goals, expectations, and you can expect to gravitate in the same direction. Yep. True too if you hang around those who consider themselves victims and can’t see an opportunity when it stares them straight in the eye. The world is filled with ‘Victim Theology’ called by other names.

Association is not just a matter of ‘rubbing shoulders’ with someone. The mind and the heart begins to focus on the wrong stuff. The conversation and thought process goes awry. The Christian Apostle Paul once wrote "Bad company corrupts good character.” Today we would probably say: “Keeping company with bad character corrupts good character.” Or how about this Proverb: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” You’re not kidding Wise Man!

Keep company with people who are bitter or angry or upset because they believe life has given them a bad turn and you can guess how your thoughts will end up. Keep company with people who are cheerful, optimistic, determined to find opportunity in adversity and you can guess how you will most likely end up also.

This surely makes a lot of sense. That is why we take measures to watch who our children associate with. We want them to have the best association in an environment that will cultivate their positive growth. It’s a shame that we don’t take the same precautions for ourselves. Not that I want to exclude anybody. But people who are negative, resentful, of a victim mindset might require some ostracism to realize that they are making the world quite painful for everybody. Well, almost everybody.

When you make a personal commitment to get the most out of life and to focus on doing things in life that really matter you will forget about the ‘victim’ position. You will begin to see opportunity in the fog. The lights will eventually turn on.

No wonder Jesus was called the ‘Light of the World’. He focused on the abundance side of life. Those who associate with Him have the best opportunity to see both the light and the abundance.

It pays to hang around people who see the light. That’s the ‘association’ thing. Take care with the company you keep.


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