Are you connected?
No, not connected to the internet, your phone, computer or T.V. But are you connected to the relationships that matter most in your life?
Are you connected to the relationships that you need most in life?
Our culture has been thrust into disconnection from relationships and connection with inanimate objects. On a daily basis; how many of us get lost staring at our phones while in the same room as our spouse, our kids, our parents, our siblings? Missing out on moments that we will not get back. I won’t address my thoughts as to how we got here, but rather, the importance of human connection and some ways we can get reconnected with relationships, especially the ones that help us be the most authentic version of ourselves.
Sometime ago I was driving and randomly came across a sermon on the radio. The Pastor was sharing about his experience while teaching at a men’s retreat. He shared about a time in his life when he was completelyalone: desperate for connection, for a hug, for someone to be with him in his loneliness. He had gotten to this place due to past hurts from experiencing loss, people letting him down, not feeling valued or appreciated. But he shared a gem of insight he discovered in talking through his anguish with God. He realized his deep need for relationship, in spite of the wounds and pain, he still needed others. In particular, he shared he realized we have a need for 3 specific types of relationships, which helped him not only weather life’s bumps, which also help to us grow.
He said, “Everyone needs a Father, a Brother and a Son.”
Knowing that we have all been wounded, many by these three relationships, or we have not had these relationships at all, he did not mean this as literal or gender exclusive. Rather, everyone has a need for a Mentor, a Peer group and someone in whom we can be investing.
Think about the need.
Parent / Mentor
Think of a time in your life where you had a mentor that was consistent and invested in you. How was your life different? What did you learn about yourself? How great was it is to be able to process a confusing mess in your life and not be judged, but rather supported, encouraged and taught? This posture opens us up to receive from others, and be nurtured in ways we may benefit or be lacking.
Sibling / Friend/Peers
Now, think of when you had your crew of friends that were always there for you. Or when you had one close friend/brother/sister that knew everything about you and was there for you no matter what. How much more resilient were you when life had some bumps but you had a friend you could turn to for count on for support? These relationships enable us to just be ourselves, we don’t have to focus on giving or receiving, just being is the goal.
And, think of a time when you were able to help lift someone up bybeing able to empathize and relate. Or a time when you were invested in coaching/leading/guiding someone. How did it feel to help by sharing something you have learned in order to help someone grow? How did it feel to be connected to your gifts? How did you feel about yourself? What was it like to see them succeed?
We do not get to choose the families or communities we are born into, nor do we choose our wounds, but that does not change our need for intimacy. To be known. To be seen. To be valued. To know others. To get support. If you have been fortunate enough to have a time in your life where you had all these types of relationships in place; how was your life different? If you haven’t, think of a time when in desperation you sought out these relationships.
We can choose to remain connected with others despite the pain, betrayal, loss or disappointment. We need to be aware of our need for these relationships, as much as we plan on what we are going to have for dinner. We need to be active in building lasting relationships, especially when there are setbacks. We need to be intentional to seek out community. When we are hungry and don’t have food what do we do? What happens to your mood if you don’t eat for the day?
However, many of us have experienced great loss, heartbreak and real trauma which wounds us. Walls and defenses build and we do not want relationship.
This is one reason why therapists exist at all. Therapy has designed into it; connections, safety, guidance, feedback etc. It is intended to be a season of time to get reconnected with ourselves and needs, so that we can connect to relationships and intimacy with others. Therapists are to be a conduit to aiding clients with reconnecting with themselves and others. If your therapist isn’t pointing you to restoring relationships (Ones worth restoring) or building new ones, then challenge them to do so.
In some ways therapists eventually wear all three hats. Therapy can be one avenue to get safe space to re-gather and process our lives in order to have the strength to stay connected. While therapists are not mentors, we fill that role in part. The need of mentor-ship can be met other ways as well. We can find mentor-ship in our church, at our jobs, at school or in our families. We just have to be intentional to take the risk to ask someone if they would meet up with us, as a mentor. Maybe a past coach who really influenced you would be open to meeting up. There may be a Pastor at your church who has shared something which resonates with what are experiencing in life, ask them to have coffee sometime.
As adults, it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain a healthy peer group. Some ways to enter into this are to find an interest or hobby you enjoy and take a free class through the community center. Having common interest with others is a safe platform for meeting up, but also feeling free enough to just to do the task at hand while others are present. Or if there is a friend you’ve lost touch with, give them a call and see how they are doing.
I believe investing in others is so very important, but an area of our culture that is most often not talked about or missed. We have all lived enough life that we can be helpful to another person. We can share things we have learned from mistakes and from successes. Our experiences in life become truly valuable when we can use them to help someone else. Consider becoming a mentor at Boys and Girls Club, Volunteer at the Food Bank or Local Nursing Home, start a small group with your church, or join a sports team and become a coach.
However, I think the easiest and most apparent way to connect with others is to just do it. Next time when sitting in the living room set your phone down and ask your spouse/roommate/kids/parents how their day was. Turn the TV off and ask a friend to go hang out. Call an old friend. Volunteer at the Hospital. Play a pick up game of basketball. Take an art class. Write a letter to your parents.
I believe that God designed within us a deep need, as real as needing to take in food or air, to be in connection with others. Who I am as a person is most realized in context of community with others. However, there are times in our life where past wounds or current loss tells us “Do NOT connect with others, you will get hurt again! It’s not worth it!” Often this is when we either disengage from relationships or turn to more impulsive ways of coping. It’s important to remember there are less reactionary ways for coping with emotional pain. We develop these in context of real relationships.
Our need to be in connection with others is also known as intimacy. We have needs to be seen, to be valued, to be appreciated, to be needed and to see and know others. We all have our brokenness and only God can meet these needs fully but He designed us with needs for relationship with Himself and others and it is vital to our health that we pursue these kinds of relationships.
If you are interested in talking to Andrew, or another one of our therapists, click here to schedule an appointment. Or call (970)490-1309 to schedule a time over the phone!