Connection is Not About Me {The Grove: Connecting)

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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This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesConnecting. You can add yours!

4 Comments

  1. Sarah Hilkemann September 8, 2017

    Thanks for sharing, Emily! My teammate and I are the only two from our broader team and organization living in our town. We’re 6 hours away from our other teammates, and it has hit both of us this week how important connecting locally needs to be (something we’ve been neglecting in the craziness of this season of work). I don’t mind staying home in the evenings and reading a good book, but my soul also feels a bit parched for community. One of my struggles at the moment is having the energy (physical and emotional) to make new connections, and knowing where to find people to do that with. Thank you for the reminder to look for ways to do this with humility and courage!

    1. Emily Smith September 8, 2017

      Isn’t it hard? I for sure was not able to write it because I have some how mastered this or figured it out. I’m still right there in the exhaustion. I loved how yesterday Jenilee talked about baby friendships. I think so often I want to put in a little effort and have everything the same depth and connectedness as if I had stayed put.
      And I would be right with you sitting at home reading a book. By the end of the day I’m exhausted. Maybe we just have to trust that the small intentional steps to connection will add up over time.

  2. Amy Young September 8, 2017

    Emily, this is a perfect reminder for the end of this week! While connecting does benefit, challenge, and grow us . . . it is not all about what I get from it. As often as not, it is about what I can offer — even when I might think my offering is too small, or pathetic, or I’m weary. Good word, friend. Good word to us.

  3. Erin September 8, 2017

    Thank you for sharing Emily. Your article really spoke to me and was a great reminder of why we need to continually step outside of ourselves. I too run by and often listen to music because some days I’m just not wanting to be stretched. I tend to be a bit more of a reserved person and on those days when I am feeling weary I see this as a deficit to connecting. Thinking I should be more outgoing, more bold … More something. That’s why I’m here right! To connect. Some days it just feels so intimidating! You statement is a great mantra, it’s not about me.
    Recently I joined a Zumba class and while I am not a big arobeics person I have found it a great way to share something with a group of ladies and start to build common strands. In a place where my reality as a women is vastly different from those around me I am thankful for this shared common experience.
    I am also reminded that in our uniqueness connection will look different for all of us. Though it will always require humility in some way.

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