Sometime ago I was in a conversation where we were talking about how we could reach out to other people and the statement was made: Connections lead to relationships
This is a very true statement and one that we can ponder on for every relational area of our life:
- We want relationship with our children – start with connections
- We want relationship with our neighbour – start with connections
- We want relationship with our estranged family – start with connections
Start with connections and build onto relationships.
What are Connections?
Connections are those little, sometimes seemingly insignificant moments where we share ideas or experiences with people – where both sides know that an idea or experience is being shared. It is easy to focus on those moments that are big – wham bam heart felt connections. And those resulting relationships are fantastic – we couldn’t live without them; but there are lots of other times where we have little zaps when we meet people and even using the word ‘zap’ is too fancy – because there are times when we just touch, we just graze with another person but these brief moments of connection are enough to build on.
Connections are made when we are in the same time/space as another person – doing the same thing, talking about the same thing, enjoying the same thing: having children the same age, enjoying the same hobby or sport, sharing the same home town or school, being at the hospital together, being on a committee together, being at a class together. Connections can be made when we are walking down the street, at a party, or at a neighbour’s house. These activities alone don’t often allow a relationship to develop at that moment – but a connection is made – will we take it further?
Working on Connections
If we truly want to build relationships with other people we need to be committed to stepping outside our comfort zone and show initiative in consolidating that connection – building from that shared experience to a deeper relationship.
Keys to building on connections:
- Find time to spend together – relationships never strengthen unless there is time together
- Learn to listen – listening shows we are interested in the other person; interested in what’s going on in their life, their interests, their dreams, their pain
- Make eye contact – this reflects our real interest and focus on the other person.
What is Relationship?
Relationship is when we take a connection (a shared idea or experience we have with another) and build on that so that they know us and we know them. Relationship is when we share our life with others. I don’t mean our living situation but rather life as the things that give us energy and passion, the things on our heart that drive us, our past and our future. Of course there is going to be different depths of sharing our inner self with people, but there are people we’ve connected with that we need to go deeper.
I have a friend who came out from South Africa and one of her observations about Australians is that we are very friendly and we say “hi” to everyone. Then she noticed that to those people we have connections with we say “how are you?” but this is said as we pass by – we don’t stop to hear the answer – it is actually a part of the initial greeting “Hi, how are you”. This actually means “hi” – it doesn’t mean ‘how are you’ at all! Now when she pointed this out I must admit it was received with a bit of a grin, and I can see my Australian readers grinning now – that is just the way we are. But I was challenged – it may be just the way Australian’s greet people but is it helping me build relationships? No, it is not. It keeps connections but goes no further.
We all have different levels of relationship. We may call people acquaintances, friends, or soul mates. Even within the sphere of ‘friends’ we have people we let closer than others. The idea isn’t that we make all people equal in our heart life. But that we rise to the challenge that there are people out there that we have connection with and if we are intentional about it we can build on that connection, establishing a relationship. It is from that place of relationship that we will be able to share Jesus’ love with them.
I live in a town that has a transient population and those who stay longer term can get weary of saying goodbye all the time. There are those who block themselves off from hurt by not getting to know people in the first place. They say saying goodbye is too painful. And yet I look at it another way. I believe the people I have got to know, and who have then left town, have shaped my life for the better. I would not be ‘me’ without them. We need to invest in people and allow them to invest in us. Our life will be the richer for it.
Building Relationships As Parents
Let me now switch a little and address how this thought helps us as parents. We need to be aware of connections we have with our children and the opportunity that those moments give us to develop our relationship with them. A connection (a shared idea or experience) may come when we are reading a book, watching a movie, driving in the car, taking a family holiday, digging in the garden. Living life together gives us so many opportunities to make a connection, to share a ‘zap’. The challenge is – will we build on it? If we do we strengthen our relationship.
- When our children find a nest of mice in the composite heap we can build on that moment or we can make them ‘get back to work!’
- When a movie touches their heart and a tear or two escapes – we can share that moment, or ridicule it.
- When our children hurt or feel relational pain, do we take the time to share stories from our past that tell of our hurt and pain? When we do this we are sharing our inner self.
We have connection with our children all the time. We can take hold of those shared ideas or experiences, and share our life (our inner heart, passion and energy) with our children and let them share theirs, or we can let the experience pass by as a fleeting moment in time – a lost opportunity.
Life is all about relationship. It starts with connections but we’ve got to step out and take it further – intentionally build relationship with those people around us (including our children).
[Tweet “Life is about relationships – we must make time to build relationship with people around us.”]
- Take Time to Enjoy your Children: Parents need to live in the moment and notice the little things. It doesn’t take much but it does take an intentional choice.
- 10 Tips to Build Relationship with your teen (and still be the parent): Our teens need to know us and need to know that we know them. This is relationship.
- How to Make Dinner Time Happen in a Busy Week: Family dinner time is important to keep our family connected and yet at times it is hard to make it happen – but it is worth it when we do.
- Sometimes you need to just stop being a homeschool mum: Sometimes a homeschool mum needs to put away all the learning experiences and just be mum.
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