Connections: Build and Improve Relationships

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Welcome! Thanks for joining us for this, our latest post in our new year-long blog series we’re calling “Journey Together.” In this post let’s talk about our huge need for real and deep connections.

As a kid, I had the rare privilege to grow up next door to my best friend. Laura was there when I was born, and she’s been in my life ever since. But our connection didn’t start with us. Our dads also grew up across the street from each other and were best friends. So, my connection with Laura was sort of built in for me from day one. That’s why I describe her as more my sister than just my friend.

I joke that I have two sets of parents, though no one is divorced. Laura’s parents have played a valuable, enduring role in my life. As Laura and I were growing up, our families were together so much that we literally wore a path in our yards from walking to each other’s houses. Holidays, vacations, birthdays, slumber parties, random Tuesday nights, grandparent visits, weddings, and funerals: we’ve done it all together. Our doors were always open, which gave me strong connections in my life.

This view expanded to others in my life. My friends knew they were welcome at our house any time and they knew that when they came over, the smell of freshly baked homemade cookies would soon fill the air. It wasn’t that my parents and I always had people over or that we had no boundaries, but we created a sense of openness and acceptance in our home.

Growing up, I took my authentic relationships for granted. Now, as an adult, I realize just how rare it is for us to have deep, solid connections with others.


 


The Struggle to Connect is Real

Now that I have my own house, I see such a shift in the environment around me. Aside from the occasional hello to our neighbors, most of us quickly retreat behind closed doors. Perhaps because of social media, our addiction to screen time, or the fact that we’re all insanely busy. For some of us, it is driven by a fear of being truly known and seen by others.

Whatever the reason, the isolation from deep, meaningful connections leaves most of us feeling lonely – even when we’re in a crowded room. 

Authentic connection takes focused effort and vulnerability. Families struggle to spend quality time together. Friends don’t have time for coffee, dinner, or even a walk around the block together with the dog. Many neighbors don’t know who lives beside them, and church attendance and even small groups become a checklist item added to an already jam-packed “to-do” list. At the end of the day, how many of us are lulled to a restless sleep only after checking our phones to see who liked our most recent, filtered, edited post on Instagram or Facebook? 

If we’re honest, most of us would probably admit that we’re going through our days with little to no significant connection. No honest conversations. No authentic, vulnerable, genuine relationships. No real community. 

We might build this isolation to protect ourselves. Having been hurt in the past, we come to believe that it’s not safe to open up. Our fear of being known, being seen, and being rejected drives us to close off from others. Some of us even grow up with the pressure of keeping a perfect outside appearance while everything is falling apart on the inside. All of these things keep us from having the deep relationships we need…the connection we were designed for.


This is not how God intends us to live.

We are hard-wired for authentic connection. 

We are made for deep, meaningful relationships.

We are made to be there to help each other.

We are made to be family. We were created to walk through life together.

In Genesis 2:22, God says, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”

In the Old Testament, we learn that the Jewish people are God’s “Chosen ones.” But in the New Testament, when Jesus enters the scene, He expands the definition of “family” to all of us. We become partakers of the promises and inheritance of God when we accept Jesus as Savior, and in becoming part of God’s family, we gain full access to a personal, sacred relationship with God.

Jesus demonstrated God’s extended view of “family” and His design for connection during His ministry. Jesus could have done ministry solo, but He chose to do it with others.

When He asked 12 men to lay down their work, leave their homes, and follow Him, Jesus wasn’t just asking for 20 minutes. He asked them for a lifetime. Over the next three years, Jesus and His disciples did life together in authentic community. They lived together, traveled together, and ministered to others together.  We also see in the Bible that they were able to freely wrestle with questions and struggles together because of their genuine connections to each other and Jesus.

Jesus desired us to walk together so much that He told John to take care of Mary as his own mother as he died on the cross. He did not desire that they should live life alone. 


How Can We Offer Real Connections to Others?

What if you and I decided to be as welcoming to others as God is with us?

What if we commit to daily risk opening our hearts—and our doors—to those around us? What if others knew they could walk into our home and feel welcomed to come as they are? What if we risked it all to be fully known by others?

How would it change the way we live and function in this world?

It might mean that you and I choose to sit on our front porch instead of in our backyards. It might mean our going out of our way to check on a neighbor, when we notice we haven’t seen them in a while. It could also mean cutting something out of our hectic schedules to gain the time and space to have coffee or quality time with a friend.

It might mean shifting our priority from tasks and to-do lists to people.

When my closest friends and I realize that our schedules don’t line up like they used to, we make time for each other. We might meet and go for a long walk. Or do our grocery shopping together. 

My childhood instilled in me a desire for connection and authenticity. That strong foundation has made it easy for me to be comfortable living a transparent life—and to welcome others to do the same.

The sweetest memories in my life involve moments of being with people who have truly seen me in the good, the bad, the ugly and most vulnerable, and chosen to stick around. The memories we have when we’re off to the store, laughing about our day or crying through a hard moment together are the moments that I love and cherish. More than completing a check list or using the perfect filter on a social media post.


Your Takeaway From This Post

When you choose to live life with authentic connections, you will indeed experience more beauty and more of God in every day moments of your life. Deepen your life through connecting with God and others. Build authentic relationships with others—allow safe, healthy people to become so near and dear that they become family.

Find a way this week that you can connect with others! Put your phone down, invite a neighbor over for dinner or grab coffee with a friend. Have an authentic and meaningful conversation.


In our next blog post, let’s look at why God is so serious about right and wrong. He doesn’t budge in His boundaries. So why do we think we can?

Catch up: The introductory post to this series.

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