There is an old saying that goes: "Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are."
When John and I went on our Marriage Encounter weekend, one of the tools that the presenters recommended was spending time with friends who have values that are similar to ours. At the time, I did not focus much time or energy on this idea. John and I had learned lots of new communication tools over the course of the weekend, and I did not place a high priority on this one.
Over time, though, I have come to find the wisdom in this suggestion. After spending a couple of hours with people who value marriage and are working to have great relationships, John and I find that we are more relaxed and loving with each other. We place a high value on loyalty and kindness, and so we are at our best after spending time with friends who live out these values in their lives. It helps us to see concrete examples of the values we are striving to live. It builds us up to know that there are other people who cherish these same values that we embrace. As we try to follow the examples set by people who are living out our values, we grow and develop our ability to live out these values every day.
Spending time with people who share our values builds us up and makes us stronger. It is as if we are building up our "value" muscles. We learn to act in accordance with those values. These actions become more and more a part of us as we see them acted out by our friends. They come more easily and naturally to us as we practice them ourselves. Spending time with friends who have similar values helps us to become our best selves.