Building Great Connections

As humans, we are social beings. We rely on one another to survive. We have a need to connect with one another. Aristotle said: "Without friendships no one would choose to live, even if they had all other good things in life." Deep friendships can only happen when we make our relationships a priority; when we let the people in our lives know that they are important to us. In a world of microwave meals and drive-through dinners, we have a penchant for immediate gratification. If we don't see results quickly, we give up and move on to the next thing.

COVID-19 has slowed us down from a pace perspective. Our commutes to work have gone down to five minutes or less. We are way less hurried now than we used to be. The question is how are we using all the extra time we now have? Are we using it to strengthen the connections in our lives and harness new ones or are we missing the opportunities we have right in front of us for relationship building? John Ortberg said it well when he said: "Wise people do not try to microwave friendship, parenting or marriage. You can't do community in a hurry. You can't mourn in a hurry with those who mourn, or rejoice in a hurry with those who rejoice." Great connections take time.

Try these two things to help build strong connections with others:
  1. Show Compassion: Demonstrating compassion to others shows them that we care about them and want to be in relationship with them because of who they are and not because they are useful to us. We want to do what we can to make sure those around us have a great day. We are there for them without judgment. When we find out something that we think will bring them joy, we do it without hesitation and without expecting something in return. We are in essence in service to them. We support them through thick and thin, remembering that failure is universal. And because we know that we will all experience it at some point in our lives, it is important we treat others who are experiencing their personal failures how we would like to be treated when we experience our own. 
  2. Be Vulnerable: Vulnerability is the driving force behind authentic human connections. It is a vulnerable thing to allow others to see and experience our weaknesses; to see us just as we are. The world wants us to display strength and composure at all times but real connection requires that people see the humanity in us and the frailty in us all. When we are brave enough to let others see us just as we are, we can receive help just as much as we give it. Most importantly, we can be ourselves; free to be who we truly are. This is the biggest gift we can ever receive.
I can testify that the need for self-preservation often stops us from forging great human connections. We are afraid of being hurt and disappointed but creating and maintaining great connections requires us to be brave and to be willing to take risks. But brave we must be and risks we must take because the ability to grow and to achieve our goals will require the connections we have in our lives and how well we manage and maintain them.

COVID-19 can either be a disappointment or an opportunity. It all depends on your perspective. I can tell you that your relationships and connections can be greatly improved, if you will invest the time. We can become closer in isolation if we try. Let us take this current season to "Slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects." [Greg Mortenson] 

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