I am a connector. There is nothing I enjoy more than bringing people together. I do that around my dinner table, through small groups, scheduled meals, and impromptu gatherings. For many years, the main way I accomplish this has been through weekly gathering. We’ve opened our home for the better part of a couple decades to small groups of people who make room for each other and prioritize connection through a weekly meeting. These small groups weren’t our idea, we first were gathered up in a group that opened up the world to us as a young family. We found that we weren’t alone. We found that behind the Sunday morning smile, other families struggled to figure it out too. We found company for the fun days and friends for the hard ones. We remain deeply connected to many of the people who have done life with us through these life-giving groups.
In this season, however, we are without the weekly discipline of a small group gathering. It’s been a bit disorienting. And yet, it has also been a good decision. We needed the space the ending created in our schedule to accommodate our growing family. We also needed the quiet of a simpler schedule. We are making room for ourselves and the simple rhythms of our life in this moment.
And yet, I still need those connections. I need to be in the midst of life with people who know me and allow themselves to be known by me. In much of my adult life, these connections have been supported by my calendar. The weekly appointment to meet with folks, to make time for others, and to prioritize these connections have made it easy. When people show up weekly, they tend to come as they are. Some weeks life is sunny and bright, others are filled with winds and darkness. When you keep showing up, you build a shared experience, a shared history. For fifteen years I showed up faithfully to a Tuesday morning Bible study taught by my friend Toni. We lived life together, praying for life’s challenges, crying together through loss and change, and celebrating new victories.
Without the help of weekly meetings, I am looking for new ways to make connections. To remain close to folks I may only see for a few minutes each week. With my far away family, we use FaceTime and other tools that allow us to see each other and catch up on both the important and the mundane in each other’s lives. Last week, I reached out to a friend through a text to simply say, I am thinking about you. I am looking for ways to let people know that they matter to me, that I care about what is happening in their lives. I want them to know that I am praying for them.
I find that with the newly opened space on my calendar, I have some extra space for connecting… over coffee, lunch, or just a phone call. We are being intentional about filling in the white space with people, not things. We are scheduling lunch with friends, dinner at home, and a few fun outings over the next couple months. Keith and I talk a lot about not being those parents who count how long it’s been since we heard from our children. When we miss them, we pick up the phone or text them to say hello. We plan a date. We want to prioritize these connections. To give our people space in our lives.
I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes this is pretty hard for me. When my attention flips from how I feel about them, to my fears and insecurities about how people feel about me, I get stuck. It is sometimes hard to reach out. To risk rejection. Even in close relationships time and distance can wear away at the trust until doubt overshadows. It is startlingly easy to only reach out to those we see all the time, to miss out on the long friendship because it has no natural supports. The older I get the more I realize intentional connection is precious and rare. I have a friend who sees people, really sees them. She notices the things most of us miss and she follows up, reaches out, and makes a point to connect across difficult and to me, sometimes impossible distances. I’m taking notes from her extraordinary grace and hoping to put it into action in my life.
So, this season has me thinking about the people in my life. I’m making a point to connect with my everyday people, my husband, sister, mom, and kids. I am also making a decision to push through the fear and connect with the wider circles in my life. Last week, I made a list of the people I want to remain connected to and a plan for how I am going to try to do it. I’m sending texts at lunchtime, meeting a friend for lunch on Sunday afternoon, and intentionally reaching out to reestablish and strengthen the connections that make life whole.
What is stopping you from making a connection today?