The refining work of connection and when connection simply doesn’t work
Sunday, November 20th, 2016
I have to laugh – this month I wanted to talk all about connection here on this blog. And the last two weeks have been quite the whirlwind. So my plans to connect over connecting – well – they failed.
But that’s okay, I’m picking myself up, dusting myself off, and assuring myself that there is still time.
In the last blog post on connection, I wrote about the importance of connecting to God, self and others. It’s all about pressing into being fully known and fully knowing others.
As simple as it sounds, it’s actually quite hard. So let’s discuss some of the key character traits that we must refine on our journey toward connecting well:
First is cultivating a heart of acceptance. Not only when we work toward being fully known but also when fully knowing another – one of the biggest challenges is to accept ourselves and accept others right where they’re at. Awareness is key here and I want to point out a couple of areas where we will have to work at acceptance.
For instance, when we are allowing someone else to be fully known – be it our husbands or our friends – we might be challenged to accept them fully right where they are at.
I know I love to go around fixing others – so when just the thing our husbands or our friends need is to be known right where they are at (versus fixing), accepting and listening are key.
Another reason that acceptance is difficult is because when we do choose to listen to others – we might find that their perspective is different than ours. It’s always, always, always easier to rub shoulders with people that have similar views. When we really start to get to know others – and realize that our views are different which is likely the case – it forces us to really think through why we feel the way we feel. And then work toward accepting someone else even if their views are different. This can be super challenging.
And last, when we are the ones working at being fully known, it is so much easier to do so when we are confident and accept ourselves just as we are. However – and it’s a big however – we usually can not get there until we’ve shared our story, our hopes, our failures with someone else. So acceptance is a hoped-for-gift but we have to jump off the cliff and risk in order to get there.
With that said, next up is cultivating a willingness to risk. There is absolutely no guarantee that we will be accepted for who we are when we show up and allow others in to the deep places of our hearts and souls. Risk of rejection comes with the territory. So we have to be okay with allowing others in and then facing that risk of rejection. This is SO hard. And I think that very first time we dip our toes into the pool of intimacy and see if we will be accepted is the scariest. After that, we start to gain such a deep satisfaction in the bottom of our hearts with being fully known that this risk is less – (yet still there).
And last, we must work toward getting comfortable with pain. Although connection is the antidote to so much – acting out, acting in, and even shame – we must also embrace that there will simply be times when connection doesn’t work. God feels like a million miles away, our friends just don’t get it, our husbands aren’t safe and we’ve tried every tool in the bag to comfort ourselves and we come up to the surface feeling the same old pain.
Sure, those negative coping strategies that we’ve used time and time again would work – but only temporarily. And after that temporary fix, we’d be deeper in our pain hole than we were before. So we know that isn’t the route we want to go. So what do we do?
We sit in the pain.
For as long as it takes.
We open our hands wide, and allow our hearts, our souls, our bodies to feel the pain. We assure ourselves that relief will come in the morning. And until then, we wait it out.
It reminds me of birthing my three precious baby boys. I chose to do it naturally because I’m cRaZy like that. Nothing was really going to take away the pain. And yet, I knew it would come to an end and the greatest gift would be awaiting me then. At least that was my hope. True, there was no guarantee.
It all came down to hope.
In the next blog post, I’m going to talk more about waiting and hope and how the two are connected. And as always, I’d love to hear from you. Is sitting in pain something you are familiar with? What I mean is – have you ever tried to just sit with it versus coping with it or covering it up?