If you were one of the fortunate ones that was able to have a bit a time off over the holidays, Monday morning it will all come to a tragic end. I’m sorry…the same applies to me as well. It was certainly a wonderful time to enjoy loved ones, slow down, have fun and simply relax. As I sit here at my computer thinking on this topic and how I will spend my first Monday of 2015 back in my work reality, I think about my connections with the most important people in my life and how important these connections are to me. I reflect on some of the bonds that were strengthened and renewed during my time off. As I have mentioned in a previous post, it’s so easy to make promises about getting together with family and friends and never making the time to do it. It’s not because we don’t want to (usually), we just have so many other things going on. The fact is we’re busy and “other things” tend to take priority. So as we step back into our busy scheduled lives of work meetings, soccer practices, piano lessons, phone conferences, house work and just stuff, how will we retain the essence of what we gained from being with the people we love the most for this coming year? How do we retain connection and what should it look like for us? Get an image in your head for yourself.
I honestly believe that being able to connect is a lost art amongst us humans. I distinguish humans because we could learn a thing or two from the animal kingdom with this. While technology is linking us together like never before, it cannot replace the human element of what connection truly is and if we’re not careful we’ll walk away with an illusion of connection just because we spent time with someone one-on-one, via Facebook, text, a phone call or some other form of social media. Webster defines the word connection as a relation of personal intimacy (as of family times). This obviously can apply to relatives, long & short-term friendships, colleagues and lovers, just to name a few.
The key is there is intimacy between the two (or groups) where some form of vulnerability is taking place at each interaction, more often than not.
This is the cost or the sacrifice we must make to experience the type of connections we were created to have with others. I call it a sacrifice because sharing our true selves is counter-intuitive in society these days. It easier and less risky to project who we want to be versus who we really are. Social media affords us the ability to have an answer or response to everything while never really being accountable for any of it. Simply press the send button and it’s out there. After all, if someone knows the real me (another blog on this topic coming soon) they will only hurt me, so it’s better if I never expose myself to anyone, even my closest friends. This is the sentiment of many, maybe even you. Imagine a life (your life) without connection and I’ll show you a life of sadness, confusion and desperation. A life full of voids and emptiness. You ever wonder why the people who suffer from loneliness are so common nowadays? And it’s not just those that are alone suffering from this. How can this be with all the ways we have to connect with others? Could it be that we have lost our way on what connection is anymore? There are couples that feel alone everyday while spending time together. They have access to one another, but for various reasons the connection has been lost (like a WiFi signal), therefore the loneliness prevails right in the middle of the relationship like the third partner in the middle of the dinner table while out at a restaurant (Seen that before?). Or what about a kid trying to authentically connect with their parent? This type of connection only last for a season, and many times if we don’t seize it when we’re afforded the opportunity we’ll certainly lose the chance to impact those young lives that will one day represent us in the world.
I have three sisters and we’re all fairly close, but as a child I had one that probably played with me more than the other two. Not sure it if was our age closeness, or her lack of fear of spiders, lizards and frogs. Whatever it was, she became the brother I never had, and that time of being together as children over the years forged a strong bond (connection) that remained with us into adulthood. I have even experienced the rare occasion of meeting someone only once and having a connection. Again, it was due to me and that individual becoming vulnerable and open, even if only for a short time. I’d rather have a few close friends that I have authentic connection with than a multitude of people who claim to be my friends, but we really know nothing about one another and we’re content with it remaining that way. What’s the point?
Now we obviously can’t be nor should we desire to become vulnerable to everyone and anyone.
It should be an earned experience based on mutual respect, trust and a dose of healthy discernment from both parties, because not everyone has our best interest in mind.
At the same time we cannot choose to become distant or so hardened that no ever gets in. Both extremes can have negative consequences to our relational experiences with others and ourselves. We’re all familiar with the statement that, “a real friend will tell you the truth even when hurts you”. We have all learned and been able to face hardships with better balance when a connected friend was able to give us a different perspective. It doesn’t mean we have to follow their given advice, just be open to listening. I’ll admit during my hardships it was often the last thing I wanted to hear at the time, because it was cramping my style, but once I had the time to reflect, it usually made sense. I was typically grateful, albeit I hated that friend for about good ten minutes. 😉
No man/woman is an island. We certainly need one another, countries, states, cities, towns, companies, churches, groups and families. We have all seen the damage of what we can accomplish a part. Imagine a force that unites, a family that truly comes together and communities that truly connect. What will that look like in your neighborhood?