Staying truly connected

One of the things we all crave is connection. We are all looking for someone with whom we can feel we can share our lives. Our secrets. Our dreams. Our hearts. We want connection. 

Connection also requires vulnerability. Vulnerability requires us to bear all. Bearing all causes hurt. When we become hurt, we retreat, and the one thing we want to do most of all is disconnect. 

In an effort to avoid the same pain. The same judgment. The same wounds. The same abandonment. The same rejections. The same patterns.

I realize in my effort to avoid hurt, I became a staunch advocate for disconnection. Some of it was for good. I learned some good things from my time of burying my head in the sand so to speak.

But I also learned that disconnecting is not always the answer.

It keeps us from hearing about the ways in which we can be a healer in a hurting world.

For instance, as I sat listening to the story of my fellow sister in Christ tell of a dying daughter, stuck in her native land of Liberia; I researched other missions in Liberia. I found so many things that I knew nothing of; simply because my hurt had caused me to disconnect. In my selfishness. In my focus on myself, I had shut out the voices of the needy around me.

I learned that some of the very people that had encouraged me in the past, I had shut out simply because I had shut off some of the noise of some who hurt me.

Case in point, when I heard the voice mail. I heard a voice of a woman who adored me. She missed me. Even if it was through a post. An encouraging message. When I saw another in the church cafe, I realized I hadn’t seen her in months, but she remembered me, because I had an encouraging word to speak. She was a partner in my ministry, and I had shut her out, simply because I wanted and needed to silence one or two negative voices. Because I focused on a few who had hurt or caused harm.

But I did learn some valuable lessons. Disconnection revealed that sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader. That you have to dig down deep to find the core of who you desire yourself to be. Because when you disconnect. You find there are not that many people cheering you on any longer.

That the one ones who do are often not the ones who live in the same area code as you. Even share the same family tree. When social media connections are cut, so are the connections and conversations. And no one comes looking for you. No one is cheering on your accomplishments. Or wishing you well on your next big test except those who have still been burning up the phone lines. You learn that some are actually willing to still come looking for you. Drop off goodies at your job. Swing by just to say hello. Check on you when you have been silent for a while.

Some even in different zip codes. That’s true connection.

You often learn that mere strangers can encourage you far more than those you thought actually “knew” you.

You learn about “connection” when you disconnect.

You learn that some were around just to keep up. Small towns are like this. We connect to see if you were really who “you used to be.” We all do it, and really, unless it’s for the reasons I’ll mention below, and we are not seeking a connection in order to have gossip worthy tea for girls night out to talk about the “boujee” pastor (wink, wink) or to make ourselves feel good for whatever reason…then just disconnect.

Disconnection isn’t always good. But reconnecting in the same ole way isn’t what’s best either. Why? Because our way of connection is a facade. Connection is simply that. Connecting. Not putting on a false face or persona that we hope to portray for the outside world in the hopes that someone will resonate with it. We connect by reaching out to others in our broken down places. And I mean reaching. Not for our smart phones through a media app. I disconnected from over 500 Facebook friends for almost a year, and I felt more connected than ever. What’s that say?

Connection is acts of mercy. Connection is seeking justice. Connection is loving the lost. Connection is showing love to the unloveable.

Connection is encouragement. Building someone up. Showing support for someones accomplishment.

Connection is choosing to accept someone who may be different than you, and being willing to at least LISTEN to their perspective.

Connection is coming to the realization that we all grow, and instead of standing in crowds and gossiping about it, we can stand in awe and applaud someone’s growth together.

Connection is raw, emotional, honest, true, intentional, genuine, and too often rare. In these days of darkness and despair, it is what we all desire and crave, and even with these apps at our fingertips it’s really what we have the least of.

You want to be connected to me? Be a little less like that connected troll calling out that all the wayward ways of everyone’s past from high school in small towns, and be a little more like the connected qualities listed above. Otherwise, don’t be offended if your request is declined. I promise I’m not being “boujee,” just selective.

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