Relational Drift
By Anthony Casperson

“We see each other every week, but for most of that time, you’re a little goblin girl and I’m a Zemnian wizard.” (Quite the quote to start us off with, huh?) This sentence came from voice actor Liam O’Brien while speaking with fellow voice actor Sam Riegel on their new vodcast All Work, No Play.

The context for the quote is that the pair, who are both members of the Critical Role cast, see each other once a week at the D&D game, but have very little time to catch up with each other. Their characters Caleb and Nott (O’Brien and Riegel, respectively) take the spotlight during gametime, and there’s little room for anything else.

Having been friends for years, they realized that the closeness of friendship that they desire continued to drift apart as schedules and life got in the way. The new show, which was based off of an attempt to do this very thing in podcast form (and was a major catalyst for Critical Role’s existence), is their way to schedule in the time to just be friends and have fun.

There had to be purposeful connections on the part of both friends to stem the tide of the ever-present drift of life. Even though week after week they sat in the same room, even interacting with each other, the pull of more pressing matters kept the friends from really digging deeply into each other’s lives.

It makes me wonder how many other people experience similar drift. I’m sure there are plenty of followers of Jesus who sit in the same big room, listening to the same sermon, singing the same songs, week after week, as the space between their relationships expands even further. (I’m not saying that we can only be friends with people who attend the same worship meetings, but the weekly interaction with each other really meshed well with my introduction.)

Relational drift is something that can easily transpire between friends, even if both sides see each other every week or so. This drift is actually more likely to go unnoticed if we stand in close proximity with our friends because we often regard presence as the same thing as relationship. Being within viewing distance of another individual doesn’t mean that we have impactful connection with them.

The ability to invest in a close friendship and be our truest selves requires purposeful connection. For some, this is taking time to divulge the depths of our souls. For others, it’s experiencing adventurous moments together that create stories to rally around. Still others can find connection with merely a look as life around them causes their thoughts to intermesh with one another.

However we experience deep connection with others (and that can change depending on which friend we’re with) there must be a decision to fight the drift that seeks to separate us. Far too often, people are willing to be passive in their relationships (myself included). We just sit around hoping that others will pursue us in the drift, but they have to do all of the work. Often this leaves the friend who’s doing the extra work tired…and eventually quit pursuing because there are easier relationships to be had.

Relational drift will kill a friendship just as easily as a fight or a misunderstanding. So, we must be intentional to schedule in time to be friends. It doesn’t have to be once a week, or set down in stone all of the time, but it does have to be active.

I challenge us all to set some time aside to build up a relationship this week. Get coffee, have lunch, make a phone call, Skype with one another, start a podcast, something, anything. Be intentional. Fight the drift.

O'Brien and Riegel on the set of All Work, No Play