How to Cultivate the Connection You Crave
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, my hunch is that deep down, you long for connection. Maybe even crave it.
Am I right?
The reason I can say I’m pretty sure this is true about you is because I know where you come from. I know who made you, and how He did it. The God of the universe fashioned you in His image.
What does this have to do with craving connection? Well, this creator God exists as three persons in one being—a holy trinity. He has perfect fellowship within Himself, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and like I said above, He created you in His image.
We’re designed for fellowship. For connection—with God, with friends, and with community.
That’s why I love the book, Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement. It offers the perspective of 30 different women who know what it’s like to crave connection in this broken world.
The book contains three sections: Connecting with God More Deeply, Connecting with Friends More Purposefully, and Connecting with Community More Intentionally.
Connecting with God More Deeply
When a group of readers were asked which of the three types of connection they longed for most, the response was overwhelmingly in favor of a deeper connection with God. It makes sense to me. As Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote in Book 1 of his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”
We are drawn to something bigger than ourselves. We long to be known, to belong, to be held, to be loved—and ultimately, only God can truly satisfy those desires. If you’re in a hard season, if you’ve experienced hurt, if change and uncertainty are on the horizon—no matter your situation—God knows, and He cares.
As Eryn Hall writes in Craving Connection, “In every hurt, every hard day, every disappointment, and every heartbreak God is near and He wants to comfort, heal, strengthen, and rescue you. When you are lonely or lost, whether literally or figuratively, the Lord holds out His hand to reassure you of His presence. He is hope. He is always there to rescue those whose spirits are crushed. Stop splashing and reach for the life raft. Call out His name.”
Connecting with Friends More Purposefully
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. We can now feel virtually connected to hundreds of people with a quick scroll through a newsfeed—without ever seeing them in person or hearing their voices. Because of Facebook, I can tell you what certain friends and acquaintances of mine ate for lunch yesterday, what drink they ordered at Starbucks, which movie they watched on Netflix last night, how their dad is doing after surgery—all without actually seeing or talking to them. It’s kind of scary, isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong—I’m so grateful for the internet and social media and the countless ways in which it allows me to stay in touch with those I know and love. But if our only interaction is through typed words or pictures on a screen, I think we’re missing out. There’s something beautiful about the bubbly sound of shared laughter that we can’t experience virtually. There’s something meaningful about tears and imperfections seen and wiped away.
Connecting with friends means offering up a listening ear and a safe harbor. It means being willing to be vulnerable and practicing loyalty. True friendship means finding great joy in being blessed to be a blessing. How can you spur on a friend today with words of encouragement? How can you extend the same grace you’ve received from God and lavish it on someone who’s feeling alone? How can you swallow your fears and share a hard story with the sole intention of showing someone they’re not the only ones?
In Craving Connection, Holley Gerth writes, “True connection takes time, commitment, and courage. While social media can make it seem like bonding is as easy as clicking a ‘like’ button, we’re called to go deeper with each other. And that means making relationships a priority. Our season of life and circumstances will impact our capacity for connection, but we can all pause and ask, ‘What can I do to truly connect with the people I love?’ Even a little bit of time or encouragement can make a big difference.”
This is what godly friendship does. It’s not easy. It doesn’t come naturally. But it’s so worth it.
Connecting with Community More Intentionally
In a land of independence, it’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of our busy routines. School, work, church. Homework, dishes, laundry. Wash, rinse, repeat. But I don’t think self-preservation is all that the Christian life is about.
Holley Gerth writes, “Community means we win together and lose together. We cheer each other on, hold each other up, and keep Jesus at the center of it all.” Amen?
I agree with Mary Carver, who observes, “We are at our best when we are walking together on this journey. We share our process and learn from one another. We talk about the same internal battles and gain strength from knowing we are not alone ... We celebrate the same victories, both large or small and praise Him in it all. We stand together, rejoicing and celebrating in the triumphs. We stand together, holding one another up and praying in the struggles.”
Do you long for this kind of community? If so, what steps can you take to make it happen?
Stacey Thacker sums it up well when she writes, “I think our hearts crave this connection with God. We were made for it. He knows this and yet does far more than we can ask for or imagine (Eph. 3:20). The beautiful by-product of God’s presence is the possibility of community with other women. When my heart connects with God first, I no longer worry about comparison or rejection from women who might not understand my own struggles with fear. God actually draws others into my messy story because that is where the sweet spot of connection happens naturally.”
We were made for connection—with God, with friends, and with community. And when we find it, we reflect the One who made us in His image and for His glory.
For more about Craving Connection, visit www.cravingconnectionbook.com.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com
Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African and together they have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.