Thursday, March 08, 2018

Four Ways We Sabotage Connection


Connection is an important part of our lives whether in person, online or even through snail mail.  The past few years I have struggled with feeling connected to those around me and those far way from me.  Some of it has to do with circumstances, but a lot of it has to do with me.  I often lean out when I should lean in.  Not only that, I sabotage connection through some bad communication habits.  Maybe you can relate to my list or add to it.  Here is what I came up with as I was going back over my reading from the last year and looking at my life.


Four Ways We Sabotage Connection


1.  We Compare Instead of Connect


I hate when I do this.  Often I don't even realize I am doing it until later.  It can go one of two ways.  I feel insecure in the way I mother, teach, or do life overseas, or I feel like the way I am doing things is the only way.  It is like I want to be like them or feel the need for them to be like me. Neither way is healthy.  The third and best way is to realize the world only needs one me and one of the other person and to celebrate that.  

Shauna Niequist says, "With people, you can connect or you can compare, but you can't do both."  My dear Liberian friend would respond, "For true" to that statement.  

I love the story of Jonathan and David in the bible.  It is story of connection where there could have been comparison.  It is a story of friendship where there could have been competition.  They didn't compare who was the best warrior or who should be the next king.  They found a way to connect even when Saul was trying to kill David.  They both trusted in God's will for their lives and who they made them to be.  The result was a beautiful friendship.


2. We Don't Listen Well


I think this quote from Adam McHugh's The Listening Life says it well...
Servant listening is an act of surrender, in which we lay down our verbal weapons, our preconceived notions, our quick advice and our desire to steer the conversation toward ourselves.  We release our grasp on the terms and direction of the conversation.

Jesus's brother, James, reminds in his writings to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  Being slow to speak is  hard in a world that has trouble with silence.   What would happen to our relationships if we truly listened instead of trying to think of what we will say next as the other person is speaking.   I am so thankful for those friends who listen well and lead by their example.  


3. We Are Too Needy


We need friends.  We need to connect.  But sometimes we want those friends to meet a need that only God can fill.  I love these questions from Lysa Terkeust from her book Uninvited.
Do I walk into situations prepared with the fullness of God in me, free to look for ways to bless others?  Or... Do I walk into situations empty and dependent on others to look for ways to bless me. (p.45)
Am I living as a loved child of God?  It is easier said than done especially in a world where it is so easy to make things about me.


4. We Look for Rejection


One of my biggest takeaways from Brene Brown's Braving the Wilderness was her words on rejection.  They had me rethinking my past feelings of rejection to see if maybe those feelings were more about my perceptions and what I was feeling rather than what someone else actually thought towards me.  Maybe I really did belong and just didn't know it.  I am trying to take her advice by ...
Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong.  You will always find it because you've made that your mission... True belonging and self -worth are not goods; we don't negotiate their value with the world.  The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. (location 1884-1889) 

 

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we often sabotage connection in the ways listed above.   For me, I often become discouraged thinking I will forever be making the same mistakes.  This is dangerous thinking.  A few years back, I broke my foot/ankle.  Even though I did some PT, it never regained full mobility.  This past year I started running again which started making it more stiff and sore.  At first, I thought I would just deal with it.  There was nothing I could do to change it.  Then I decided to start doing the PT exercises again.  Slowly my mobility is improving, and I have less stiffness.  Now I know that I will always have aftereffects from that break but there was room for improvement.  In the same way, I may never be the greatest listener or I may still feel rejected at times, but there is room for improvement.  I can take baby steps in the right direction.  I serve a God who isn't finished with me yet and for that I am thankful.

So could you relate to any of the things on my list?  Are there other ways we sabotage connection?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

God who became the word so you could connect with us.  I praise you.  Be with us as we interact with each other that we will live loved by you and listen well to those around us.  Help us to connect when we want to compare and to lean in when we want to step back.  May your kingdom come.  Amen.

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