Connecting (excerpt from 2:47 a.m.)

2-47_coverI don’t generally do close relationships well and never have. That is not to say that I haven’t had, and still have, some dear ones, but overall I kind of suck at close relationships. I think it’s because I either tried way too hard or not hard enough…

Kids my age were few and far between and my siblings were in junior high by the time I started school. My main companions were an old bike, puzzles and books. I was happy with that, but it caused me to develop a very independent bent. Being a socially stay at home family resulted in a weekly hour of Sunday school providing my primary lessons in early relationship forming and social practice.

My school journey made stops at seven different grade schools. Always the new kid, coupled with being being small, I was constantly working to try and fit in. My strategy was to achieve acceptance, or validation, through grades and sports. Looking back, I would have been better suited working more on relationships. Never a herd animal, my modus operandi was to get to know one or a few new friends while striving to excel in the classroom and the sports field.

We moved again in the middle of 6th grade – junior high in California. That meant dressing for PE for the very first time. Father has a sense of humor as well as irony – the PE teacher was the baseball coach and the unit was softball, I was a baseball junkie. The new kid, short and skinny, was the dead last pick. That was Monday. Tuesday’s first pick was the skinny new kid. It’s amazing how a big hit and a couple plays in the field change perceptions.

While initially accepted, at least by the boys, I did not capitalize on my newfound status by greatly enlarging my circle of friends. I fell back on the comfortable and well-worn path of focusing on making one or two close friends, qualifying for the honors program and reveling in the coach’s invitation to come out for the baseball team.

Another familiar pattern remained consistent – we moved back to Iowa again at the start of summer.

The school shuffle settled down after that, but my social pattern continued – focus on school, sports, jobs and a small circle of friends. Throw in my beloved books, long bike rides and listening to baseball on the radio and I seldom felt lonely. I enjoyed the small circle that I did hang out with and reveled in the freedom to be me, with almost no teenage peer pressure to conform to. In retrospect, a little more conformity might have made me a better-rounded person socially.

It’s not rocket science to determine why my first few serious relationships with the fairer sex had a high probability of failure. While faithfully attending classroom, business and sports lessons, I skipped or audited the more important ones on relationships. Fortunately, there is no statute of limitations on relationship education and Father is very patient with His adult student – a lot more patient that some of those young ladies!

I now listen more and talk less – most of the time. I’m learning to focus on others, to see through their pain to the person underneath. Learning that the tougher the exterior, the higher the probability that it is protecting wounds, insecurity or unaddressed issues. I’m realizing book learning, report cards, home runs, titles or money in the bank are devoid of any substance on their own. Even at their best they are simply instruments to be used, not idols to be pursued and worshipped.

The one difference maker in life? The only thing that really matters? Relationships. Connecting with God and with each other. There is absolutely nothing in this world more important and I believe that goes from Father’s perspective as well. He desires a close, personal, open and honest relationship with each one of us above all else, because all else will flow from there – worship, thanksgiving, serving, gratitude, joy, peace, even faith.

Connect. Connect with Father, connect with Jesus, connect with the Holy Spirit. Connect with family and friends. Connect with co-workers, acquaintances and even total strangers. Let relationships grow naturally, whether over a cup of coffee with a stranger at an airport, a newfound best friend at the playground or a lifetime companion. To love is the greatest commandment and only through relationships can we love.

Comments

  1. I love your insights…love you!