Just because we all need human connection does not mean that all connections are good. Personally, I have never met anyone who escaped childhood without being burned by at least one person. Sadly, we are all flawed and all have the capacity to hurt people – even those we love. And, those with whom we share a strong bond are capable of hurting us (perhaps more than others); but, when the bond is strong, the chances of reconciliation and restoration are high! ~smile~
God has blessed me with a wonderful family. We are far from perfect, but at the end of the day we love each other – warts and all. Some of my earliest connections were with my parents, grandparents, and extended family. There were many hugs, tickles, and laughs. These relationships got me off to a good start in life because even when life threw me disappointments and trials (even as a kid), knowing I was loved kept me grounded. Kids so desperately need strong connections with their loved ones.
Then along came the bad connections. In “girl world,” the rules do not always make sense, and the rules change daily. To be cool, you have to follow in step with a small force of popular girls who determine what is “in” or what is “out.” I can vividly remember taking an end-of-year test when I found out a “cool” girl I thought liked me called me a geek to her group of friends. Now that I am grown, I can understand why she called me a geek and why the other girls laughed with her. They were dealing with the same insecurities I was dealing with at that stage of life. They joined in because they were relieved to not be the object of ridicule.
Most of us encounter bad connections as kids which mess with our heads. Many of us still struggle with bad connections in adulthood. If you are in tumultuous relationships which cause you continuous pain, it may be time to evaluate whether or not those relationships are worth continuing. Not all connections are good and some can even cause lasting damage. If you are connected to a cobra, run! If you are suffering emotionally, spiritually, or physically as the result of a toxic relationship, hit the road quickly; or, if you are in a tumultuous marriage, seek pastoral or professional help immediately before it is too late. We all need human connection, but we need positive, nurturing, uplifting connections. You may also want to ask yourself if you are blessing those in your life who are connected to you (e.g., parents, friends, sweetheart, siblings, etc.).
From those first few years of life, through my school days, and through the ups and downs of my emotional teenage season (and up until now), I have maintained a lasting connection with a handful of people. When I left for college, there were so many pals I left behind. Though I had good intentions of keeping those relationships once I moved, life got busy. It happens to us all. We do not have the time or energy to remain extremely close to every one we have ever met. It is only the relationships we specifically prioritize and actively maintain that stay afloat. Now when I visit my home town, I know there is no way I can see everyone I remember from a decade ago; but, there are a few people I try to see almost every time. Why? Because I deeply value the connections I have with them and I want to be sure to continue to build on those relationships.
So what makes these relationships worth maintaining and not the others? The relationships I am determined to maintain share a few factors in common:
First, these relationships have passed the “time” test. After many years, and after seeing my many flaws, these folks are still in my life. Never underestimate the value of a good friend that continues to be there for you even when you are not at your best, or after you have put him or her through a lot of pain.
Secondly, these people are uplifting! They do not live to pump me full of negativity when I visit. They are there with smiles and ready to share their lives with me. The time we have to spend with others is short and it should not be wasted on poisonous talk.
Last but not least, I believe they need me as much as I need them. Friendship and love is all about giving and receiving. We are blessed to receive from our loved ones, but we also need to be needed and give back. Connections are two way streets and I value spending my time and energy with people who need and love me just as I need and love them.
Think about the strong connections you have in your life. Which common threads run through them? Think of the connections you have broken (or which have been broken) in your past. What did those relationships have in common? As you go into 2014, consider the good connections you have, the bad connections you need to lose, and the connections you want to see last a lifetime.
Which connections mean the most to you and what will you do to make sure they last?