We all long for connection.

It’s part of what makes us human. We may want to close everyone out for a little while, but isolation doesn’t feel good long-term. Research shows that babies can’t develop physically, emotionally, and socially without human interaction. A lack of connection has serious consequences.

Ever watch kids play at a playground? They will often enter a play structure alone and minutes later emerge with a new friend. They may not know their name or their favorite food, but for those few minutes they give each other their undivided attention. Kids inherently want to connect. Given time, even the shy ones will find their way over to a new playmate.

Something happens between the playground and the workroom.

Some stop caring, others stop trying, and many start believing life is just easier on their own. And that is half true.

After all, the devil doesn’t come at us with blatant lies, he starts with subtle ones that slowly distort our view. He’s not going to get us to believe that being alone is a good thing. That is an obvious lie. So he comes at us with a twisted version of the truth. It is easier not to deal with some of the conflict and emotional drama relationships bring to the table. That’s hard to argue.

Satan tells us that connecting with new people is hard and uncomfortable. He tempts us to believe that people just want something from us and are going to hurt us in the end. He convinces me they’re probably annoyed with me anyway, or that they’ll betray me. They definitely don’t have time- they’re have more important things to do and people to see. It’s no use trying, we reason.

Meanwhile we long to be known and accepted for who we are. We just can’t seem to get there.

What the devil leaves out is the part where it’s still worth all the uncomfortableness to get there. Connecting with people is worth the conflict and drama it brings.

The difference between the playground and the workroom is responsibility.

Kids don’t have the pressures of the world weighing down on them. Their biggest concern on the playground is the ability to get across the monkey bars, or who can jump the farthest off the swing. When they initiate a game of tag, they’re not contemplating whether that other kid is going to have emotional energy for the drama they’re dealing with at home.

But the older we get, the more responsibility we take on and the more complicated life gets. The more complicated life is, the more our time is demanded. So it’s no surprise that connecting with people on a personal level is more challenging.

In the midst of trying to connect with those around us, we’re also trying to grow spiritually, keep our marriage healthy, disciple our kids daily, work diligently, and maintain healthy physical bodies. What’s left for us to connect with those outside of the walls of our home?

I don’t have all the answers and I’m sure there are books on this subject that are helpful, but I have found two things to help me with this constant struggle. (Yes, the struggle is real for me, and it doesn’t seem to get any easier.)

Create Space

If we don’t make time to connect, it won’t happen (welcome to adulthood).

Schedules are full. Lives are busy. You can’t expect someone to drop all of their responsibilities when you’re in the mood to hang out. That may have worked in high school, but it doesn’t work well when you have kids who need a mother and bosses demanding a project.

Some pride themselves on a slam-packed schedule, but I think that “trend” (if you want to call it that) has shifted. I think (hope) most have discovered that a busy life is not a productive life. I am more productive when I make room to connect with people during my week.

I have time in my week when I am free to connect- free of distractions (i.e. kids, computer) and free from obligation. This time has no agenda, no expectation. It’s for asking “How are you doing?” with the time to really listen.  Having space to connect one-on-one is good for my soul.

How can you create space to connect with a friend (or someone you want to be a friend) this week? Make a lunch date or coffee date. Even if it’s a month away, planning is the first step.  

Show Up

Sometimes we make the time, carve out space in our calendar, but when the day comes we don’t feel like going. (Am I the only one?)

You plan to meet a friend for coffee, you signed up to be a part of a group, you were interested in that event you bought tickets for, but when the time came you just weren’t in the mood.

I get this and have been there, trust me. If you’re an introvert, you feel me here.

Maybe you had a bad day at work or with your kids. You had a fight with your spouse or roommate. The last thing we  want to do in those moments is meet someone for lunch. All we can think about is putting on yoga pants and turning on Netflix, numbing ourselves from the hurt and discomfort we feel.

Sometimes that is necessary, but I think should be few and far between.

For the most part, when I’ve pushed through that feeling and showed up anyway, almost a hundred percent of the time, I was so glad I went. I may drive to meet someone with a bad attitude, but I usually come home less stressful and thankful I went anyway.

Where do you need to show up this week? Take the chance. Fight against hiding and connect even if you don’t feel like it in the moment. See if you come away in a better mood. I dare ya. 

We long to connect because God created us to connect. It may be challenging, but making space and showing up will bring health and wholeness to our lives- spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. We are better people when we are connected people.

What would you add? Have you found other ways that help your connect more? Share in the comments.

 

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