One of my favorite authors is Shauna Niequist, a writer who shares insight regarding relationships, community, and engaging with one another while gathered around the table, surrounded by food and drink and friendship. Niequist is a compelling storyteller who uses her own life as a platform for connecting with her readers in a genuine, intimate way.
One of her primary topics of focus is cultivating meaningful relationships and diving honestly and openly into a supportive community. She writes about this in her book Bittersweet when she expounds upon the topic of the home team:
“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyway. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”
When I read this passage for the first time, I was struck so profoundly by Niequist’s words. Immediately I was able to conjure images in my own mind of the members of my home team: My husband, my parents, my brother, my best friends from college, my closest friends in my daily life in Dallas. The list was easy to come up with as these are my people, the ones who have brought me soup when I’ve been sick, stood beside me at my wedding, comforted me when I lost a beloved pet, toasted champagne with me when I got a job promotion, and traveled across the country to spend time with me in both the happy times and sad ones.
These examples are not given to toot my own relational horn … they’re meant to illustrate the reciprocal nature of my relationships, which is an important distinction when determining the members of your home team.
Conversely, the members of my home team are the ones I would do anything for without a single second’s worth of hesitation. These are the people who I have flown across several states to celebrate wedding and baby showers, the ones who I have sent cards and flowers and photo gifts to on birthdays and anniversaries, the ones I have stayed up all night on the phone with consoling them over a loss. These examples are not given to toot my own relational horn, of course; instead, they’re meant to illustrate the reciprocal nature of my relationships, which is an important distinction when determining the members of your home team. These are not people who just take care of you; these are the people you take care of, too.
My home team has certainly changed over time, even if only ever so slightly. Certain stages of life shift our focus; as much as we love and cherish a certain friend during a specific season, life may change in such a way that they remain an adored comrade but not necessarily a member of our home teams. This is more than okay.
On that note, the most interesting part about Niequist’s definition and assessment of the concept of the home team is that she reminds the reader that it’s not just important to know who the members of your home team are — it’s equally crucial, if not even more invaluable, to know who the members of your home team aren’t. Niequist explains that we only have a finite amount of time, and while there are so many incredible people in the world, people we should undoubtedly love and serve whenever given the chance, we can only genuinely invest in a set number of people. She clarifies that this number is different for each person — one person may have 20 people in her home team while another has five in hers.
… life may change in such a way that they remain an adored comrade but not necessarily a member of our home teams. This is more than okay.
This got me to thinking about continually seeking intentionality in relationships. Especially in this day and age of instant connectivity and constant communication, it’s easy to feel connected and close to a myriad of people from all different walks of life. And while that may be perfect for some people, it’s not the right fit for me. I know that I crave quality time with the people I love, and because there’s only so many hours in the day, I have to be realistic about who I’m giving my time and love and trust to — and when, and why.
So thank you, Shauna Niequist, for tuning me into the idea of the home team. It’s given me so much to think about in regards to my relationships and the best ways to serve and support the people I adore.
What do you think about the concept of a home team?
PS. Read more from Shauna Niequist and her article ” On Wind and Wondering” in Darling Issue No. 4.
Image via Müjgan Afra Özceylan