I’m in a coffee shop, watching the swirl of humanity wash in and out like the tides. I see acquaintances, intimate relationships, big business meetings and consultations. All are making connections.
I lived overseas for 9 years of my younger life. Family connections with those this side of the ocean were few without the fascinating far reaching power of the various social media apps we have now. So, we missed many events, weddings, funerals, reunions even, all of which would have kept us connected. Now, through a mention of a Christmas card sent to my mom from a cousin I have only seen a few times in my life, I searched and found her online. Because of her, I am now connected to another cousin who has been doing genealogy on my family for 60 years! I am so thankful for the connection and can’t wait to hear all about that line of my family. Making connections, it’s what I do, perhaps because of feeling the absence of them when I was young.
Is it who you know? Is it what you know? We spend hours upon hours connecting our lives and making those connections perhaps without really thinking of how they work. We’re hard wired with a natural design for community. Even as a person who really enjoys my time alone, I have a desire for communication. Are you intentional about how your connections are made? I just spent the last two hours, without realizing how much time had passed, with a good friend discussing a ministry we are both so passionate about, organizing and melding our visions into the most powerful connection we can fashion to reach the youth we cherish and invest in constantly. Now, she’s gone and I’m making other connections, through text, email and even here, with you.
There’s a lunch date made and the connections continue throughout my day. Some intentional, some results of intentional interactions invested upon for years before. Isolation can often lead to depression and self imposed deceptions for some people. Why not stay connected and involved? With this suggestion comes a warning. Beware with what and whom you are connected. Ask yourself, are you strong enough to be who you are and still enjoy a connection or do you get sucked in, and lose your identity?
Most of us were taught some form of communal awareness at a young age, a hug for comfort or an appreciation of someone else’s efforts, and if by chance we missed it, upon reaching maturity, it becomes obvious there are a lot of advantages and a purpose to sharing with others, whether it be food or chores or anything else you can remember Mom telling you to share with siblings or friends. Yet, in today’s world, we turn our back on such a basic principle and think we are an island of our own self made opportunity, unwilling to share our deepest pain and still expecting others to bond with us and not understanding why it isn’t happening.
I had the great privilege to speak to a wonderful group of women from a local church today and they were so very gracious to me, before and after I spoke, both are equally important! It is interesting to get up in front of a group of people you do not know (well, I knew two out of the 22 people), and speak for half an hour without being able to gauge your audience. While I am usually a good read of people, this was held at a restaurant and there was eating going on, and shifting of plates, all of which makes for a more relaxed atmosphere and yet, it is harder to tell the measure of your impact. I wanted to inspire these ladies to be brave and bold and speak out to others about their life experiences by sharing some of my personal pain and suffering for the exact reason of showing them what it’s like to share and give them that A-Ha! moment. I want them to feel strong enough to open up and reach out and build relationships, meaningful, deep binding relationships to support each other and build community. The only way to do this is to become unguarded, not just open the mouth and let loose about stories that are not yours alone to tell but, after guarding your heart in the Word of God and, being sure of the One who made you, stepping out of yourself and reaching out to someone else who might just be in the very same boat as you and has been dying to have a warm body to talk to but, thought they were all alone. The overwhelming response of the women who came up to me afterwards was humbling and amazing! So many different ages and backgrounds were represented and yet, each of the ladies who approached me related to something they heard, it resonated with them, they could identify closely with something I shared and there was a spark of purpose in some eyes, compassion in others as well as genuine appreciation. How exciting is that?!
I know God is starting something big in their midst and I will be praying they keep being sensitive to where He is leading them, and keep growing in each other by sharing and building those relationships we were designed to have with others. I look forward to hearing about what is being accomplished!