It would be nice if life was simpler and things just kind of fell into place on their own. Imagine if we all were physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually fit by nature.
No restrictive budgets.
No diet trackers or workout reminders.
No Bible reading “plans.”
No counseling or support groups.
Rather, we just did what we were supposed to do without a lot of effort or second thought. That would be nice.
Just not terribly realistic.
We all realize this in some part. Generally whether we want to admit it or not, health in any area of life requires effort, discipline, and a lot of commitment. And when it comes to our need for community and connection, that’s no exception.
I have been overseeing small group programs and communities for 10+ years and during that time I have seen so many people find a degree of freedom through these sources of connection. But sadly, I can’t say that’s the case for everyone. The truth is that for every person who joins one of our communities and seems to thrive because of the relationships they build, there are many more who come and go, sometimes the same day.
Is it because not everyone needs secure connection in their life? Hardly.
Is it because they want more connection than what they think an online environment can provide? Sometimes.
Is it because they feel uncomfortable sharing their “darkest secrets” with people they never met? No doubt.
However, I think most of the time it’s because they like the idea of community and connection, but don’t realize what it takes in terms of effort and intention to build those things into their lives. In other words, they believe connection will just happen on its own.
And when it doesn’t? They jump ship, experiencing yet another disappointment in their recovery journey efforts.
But what does it mean to be committed to building connection? What does that look like practically?
First, meaningful connection means a commitment to complete honesty.
The reality is that you can’t build any sort of sincere relationship with someone if you are not honest with them. Connection necessitates trust and trust can not exist where honesty is absent.
That said, being honest can be difficult. Honesty means we willingly subject ourselves to another’s scrutiny, creating a sense of vulnerability that at times can make us feel extremely uncomfortable.
But honesty is a must. Without it, a secure and meaningful connection cannot be established.
Second, meaningful connection means a commitment to regular communication.
There’s an old adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And for some in certain scenarios, that may be partially true. But for the most part, absence simply makes the heart colder and more distant.
When we fail to communicate and connect with others on a regular basis, we become callous and eventually lose our appreciation for those relationships, making it easier to abandon them all together. This goes for marriage, accountability partners, support groups, friends, and even our relationship with God.
Simply put, connection of any substance cannot exist without regular communication.
Third, meaningful connection means showing up.
There is a difference between a member of a community and being part of a community. Membership is a status, but being part of something means you are involved, invested, and contributing on some level.
We tell people that Rule #1 for any support group or community is “just show up.”
You don’t have to share or post all the time.
You don’t have to have all the answers.
You don’t even have to feel comfortable (at first).
But you need to show up because showing up says you are part of what’s happening in that group, and your commitment to that participation will translate into a deeper connection with other members of that community.
Fourth, meaningful connection means you have to make the effort.
I talked about this last week in relation to accountability. Building relationships and meaningful sources of connection will take work on your part.
Life is busy.
Sometimes people forget to check in.
Occasionally people assume you are fine and figure if you need them you’ll ask for help.
And when these things happen, it’s on you to get things back on track if you value the relationship. Now, I understand your reaction maybe along the line of “If they don’t care why should I?”
But often people do care and the busyness of life just gets the best of them. You can either let that happen, or you can stand up and be the adult in the room and say, “Hey, we need to connect. This relationship is meaningful to me, and I’m not going to let it die on the vine.”
It’s your choice.
Ultimately, having connection in your life means work and commitment. It’s not easy, hardly ever simple, and can even get a bit messy at times. But the juice is worth the squeeze, and you’re well worth the investment of your time and energy.