A deep and meaningful connection with others is the lifeblood to our souls. Its what heals hearts, calms worries, and tenderly puts truth in the place of “truth” (the things the voices in our heads tell us are “truth”, aren’t always truth.) I feel like we live in a world where real connection can be mistaken for faux connection. The kind of fake friendship defined by social media or quiet church hallways. By thumbs up emojis and “I’m good!”s to our half hearted “how are you”s in those same church hallways.
i get it. Its scary to look into your fellow Sunday-hallway-dweller’s eyes (who is also walking bent over behind a 17 month old) and ask, “how are you?” And mean it. To not let her get away with a fake smile and an “I’m good.” But to really want to know. To make her feel loved in that two seconds. To ask the question, and stand there long enough to carry her answer. Maybe she really is good. Maybe she’s not. We don’t know. But heres the deal. We don’t know. And we can’t assume one way or the other. Every person is carrying stuff. Big stuff, small stuff, whatever, it’s all stuff. And walking the road of “woman” alone is just not okay. It’s not okay for you, me, or her.
I have been that person, assuming someone else will do the vulnerable work of connecting with “her”. Making a checklist in my mind why it’s not my job. It’s not my responsibility. They’re not in my “circle”. The list is long, and I have excuses that will make the best of the best think that I’ve got a point. But i’ll never do that again. Want to know why? Because another woman looked me in the eye, and asked me “how are you?” in an empty church hallway, and when she asked, I knew she was going to carry my answer. She was going to stand there and be there, for me. She didn’t know me very well, she certainly didn’t know the inner turmoil that I was in that morning. She didn’t owe me a single thing. But she asked, and my heart knew that she meant business.
Every instinct in my body was telling me “no”. Do not answer that question. Lock your heart up and throw the key into the ocean of all your guilt, fear, and sadness. Do not, look her in the eye. Do not, look in the direction of the light that she just offered up. Do not feel the love. The charity. Do not let her vulnerability weaken the carefully bricked walls around your heart and soul.
We are very good at zipping our lips, folding our arms, and smiling fake lipsensed-smiles. We laugh off our insecurities. We give our pride and ego power. And we shun connection with other human beings because that connection might just break us open and all that’s locked up behind the walls will come out making a giant mess. And as women, we are programmed to not like messes.
So there we stood, me and Her. my brain was racing, going through scenarios of how I could escape this hallway. Where was my babies short temper when I needed it?
But again, my heart, it knew what my brain refused to acknowledge, I needed connection. Badly.
I’m learning that god doesn’t always (or never, if you’re me) send an angel to manifest His will to you. He doesn’t produce lightning bolts of revelation and he has never come down and physically given me a hug. But we need hugs. We need revelation. We need angels. And in that moment, I learned that sometimes (maybe even most of the time) it’s other women who fill that role for us. I still don’t know why, but without even making the conscious decision (as if that’s possible) I felt my cold and sad heart, break.
God can’t fix what’s broken in our hearts without them breaking. There is beauty in the brokenness.
With my cold, sad, broken heart in the quiet church hallway, with a few brave words of, “today… has been hard.” I felt a physical weight off my chest. She didn’t prod, or ask questions. She didn’t need a another word from me, she just stood there and carried the weight and the one and a half tears that fell from my eyes. Where minutes before the stomach ache and insecurity were smothering me alive in the corner next to the coat rack, there was now space, light, and love.
That’s the power of connection.
We need it for ourselves, we need to offer it to others with empathy and charity. The fear of rejection or uncomfortable amount of courage and vulnerability that it absolutely requires does not compare to the real and lasting miracles of love and light that god will pour into that moment. For both the giver and the receiver.
We live in a world of 5x5 filtered squares showing the perfect glimpses of an imperfect life. A life of broken hearts and insecurity. a life filled with a spectrum of feelings and emotions and moments from joy to guilt to depression to love. Our world is @ handles and likes and follows. It’s filled with faux connection to god, others, and ourselves. It’s matching dresses on the church pew and crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s, sacrificing real connection for fake smiles and “I’m good’s”. Why do we do this to ourselves?! Why do we (me included) have to be tough, put together, and perfect?! Why do we hide? Why do we cross those t’s and dot the i’s and leave our burning questions of faith sitting on the shelf collecting dust? Why do we resist real and deep connection for fear of opening the flood gates?
You guys. We simply cannot do this life alone. We cannot let the pressures of social media smother the very life and light out of our souls. We cannot let the comparison monster rob us of meaningful relationships with other women. We cannot let hustle and grit shove aside grace and broken. We cannot let the world define who we are, and what we’re worth.
We have to stop.
We need creativity and space. We need art in whatever makes us come alive. We need connection. The kind that grows slowly and is woven with empathy, love, and vulnerability.
To god, others, and ourselves. And we can’t do that alone.
We need each other.