The longer I live the more I see the power of connection in almost anything we do. In our families, our businesses, our churches, with our neighbors and our coworkers. Today is a day of disconnection. Many people see no need to connect to others because “they” are the ones who cause all the problems. That is correct. People are the problem, but they are where you get all the things you need to live a satisfied life. I have a minister friend who used to say, “The ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people.”
We have so much to keep us disconnected. TV and video games are just a few. I read an article that said the most disconnecting things in our culture are electric garage door openers and air conditioners. They keep us from talking to our neighbors and sitting on the front porch with friends and family.
I saw the power of connection in a very real way a few years ago. I’m in a very close nit family although you wouldn’t know it if you hung around with us. We seem detached at times and we tease each other a lot but our ties run deep.
My wife and I were taking a short vacation down around Dayton. The second day of our three day journey, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. My phone rang, it was my daughter, she doesn’t call unless something’s up. She said, “Dad?” her voice obviously strained, I answered yes. “Angie was killed in a car accident.” Angie was my older sister. I was stunned to my core. I didn’t know what to say. I finally squeaked out, “What happened?”
My wife and I got in the car and headed up I 75 toward home. I couldn’t get myself to talk. I sat in the drivers seat in silence thinking, this has to be some kind of mistake. It couldn’t be so. My mind raced from childhood memories to the present. Angie worked for me so I saw her nearly every day. We fought like brothers and sisters sometimes do. There were many days she didn’t seem to want to be there and I didn’t want her there.
We went to my parents house and started the process of burying a family member. The ups and downs of the next few days were mind boggling. My brothers, my parents and I clung to each other for that time. Many people came to my parents house to pay their respects and we were grateful. But there is nothing like the bond of a family to heal some of the pain.
We had the funeral and the crowd of people that came was unbelievable. We guessed around 1500 came to the visitation, and around 500 to the funeral. And yet, with all the support there was nothing like having my family around me. The connection of my family brought more healing than everything else put together.
A young man, whom I’ve never met, changed our lives forever that day when he ran that stop sign. Sometimes things are hard to understand. They simply don’t make sense. But the connections we have with family made it easier to traverse.
I’ve coached many parents with teenagers who don’t know what to do. The kid is out of control and hanging out with the wrong people. My suggestion is to be decisive, be direct, have clear boundaries with violation consequences, but never break the connection you have with them. I teach people to say things like, I don’t like your behavior and I don’t condone it, but I love you and always will.
People thrive on true connection. If they know you care, they will allow you to speak into their life. Connection is established through empathy and understanding. The ability to feel what they are feeling to some degree and to try to understand.
Henry Cloud says in his book “Integrity” “The human heart will seek to be known, understood, and connected with above all else. If you do not connect, the ones you care about will find someone who will.”