School has been back in session for a few weeks now and last evening we had our open house. Parents and students came to meet the teachers and staff for this school year. I was able to walk around as students were proudly showing their parents where they sit in the classroom. They pointed out their own work displayed on bulletin boards in the classrooms and hallways.
Many students were introducing their parents and teachers. Full smiles and happy faces filled the hallways and classrooms and spilled onto the stairwells. This night was not a time for some of the more difficult yet necessary conversations about grades or behavior. It was a time of celebration and connection.
Personally, meeting parents and many other new people at the end of a school week is not on my preferred activity list. I may be able to walk into a room of preschool students or high school students completely unfazed. Secretly, I am terrified of meeting parents. I also know this night is not about what I prefer or what is comfortable. It was a night of connecting with others.
Connection is not about me. It is an act of humility. We have to humble ourselves and risk rejection. We have to drop the facade and allow others to see us as we are — broken, messy, yet made perfect in Christ.
There are certain settings where connection feels easy and natural. For me Connection Groups have been one of those places. I have loved each group I have been a part of. They have been a safe place for me to share with other women who understand the life I have chosen. It still takes humility to be vulnerable and authentic, but it doesn’t stretch me outside of my comfort zone.
There are other settings where connection is a struggle. There are people I will pass several times a week on the street as I walk or run. They watch me carefully as I go past. I know they are as intimidated to greet me as a foreigner as I am to approach them. I want to just keep running and pretend those greetings don’t matter. Instead, it takes humility and courage to occasionally stop talk to these women. It stretches me outside of my comfort zone, but connection is not about me.
Each one of us have areas where connection comes naturally and each one of us has areas where we struggle. Some of you may have just joined a Connection Group and know that this kind of connection may stretch you. The first time I wrote about connection groups, I challenged everyone to show up because we need you. We need those of you who are thriving. We equally need those of you who feel that you have nothing to offer.
This time my challenge is for those who have signed up for connection groups as well as for the many more of you that have not. Find ways to connect with other people. Think of ways that may stretch you. Maybe it is connecting with neighbors or people in your local community. Possibly it is with the teammate that is a challenge to work with. It could be you find yourself in a connection group where you don’t fit together as naturally.
Some of you are new to the field and still in survival mode. Keep trying to make new connections with people and trust that it does get easier. Some of you have new teammates and aren’t sure if it is worth connecting with more people because the goodbyes are becoming too painful. Welcome new people in with humility and ask God to keep your heart soft.
Smile. Greet people. Sit down for a cup of coffee. Encourage those around you. Many times you will never know the value of your actions. Other days, you get to watch the smiling face of a boy who is bringing his dad into your classroom. You connected with him. You created a safe place. That is the space where some of the best moments in life will happen.
What are some ways that you have been intentional about connecting with people around you? In what areas would you like to be more intentional about connection?
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Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesConnecting. You can add yours!