Vulnerability and Real Connection
I was recently looking over my writing journal and a snippet of a thought I had written down years earlier made me think. The words hit me differently 6 years later. I’m further along in my journey of life than I was at the time I wrote it. However, they ring even more true to me now than they did then.
“If we aren’t willing to connect with one another (and when I say connect, I mean heart to heart), if we aren’t willing to risk our hearts to be broken we miss out on so much! Relationships are meant to be emotional. They are meant to make us feel and feel deeply. We are meant to connect, to feel one another’s burdens, to lift each other up! We are meant to be God’s hands on Earth. Every single person needs someone. We are all vulnerable. We need each other.”
Connection, heartfelt connection. We all need it. My own connection battery has been at an all-time low lately. We’ve had a busy summer, with major house projects, vacations, camps, and other summer fun outings. My husband has been so busy with work, helping out with our son’s mountain bike team, and his other responsibilities, we haven’t had a lot of downtime, or time alone just the two of us. We are entering a new stage in our family lately. We have a teenage son who wants to stay up later, talk, and hang out with friends- just as he is getting old enough to stay home and tend his younger siblings. We have more distractions and obligations pulling us away from home and each other. And I feel that deep inside.
It’s also so much harder to find time to spend with family and friends. Everyone is so busy, and my family in particular tends to cram in all the things. We are constantly going. It can be exhausting (mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically) for this introverted extrovert, married to an extreme extrovert. 😜
I went to a friend’s bridal shower this week, and sat and visited with friends for hours. It was so nice to connect with old friends I’ve known for at least half my life, one of them all my life! I haven’t seen a lot of them in a while, and I just got to sit and be with them. We were all kid-free, and had no distractions. We were able to catch up, laugh a lot, talk about some serious things, eat delicious food, and celebrate our good friend. It was like a part of me I had forgotten about, came alive. It was so wonderful being with them, I just loved it. I was so glad I made the time to go.
I sat and read a book with my youngest the other day, and it meant the world to me. I took my time reading, letting him talk about the pictures, and asking him questions about the story and it filled me right back up. I put my phone away and listened, soaking up his sweet little voice. I smiled genuinely at his thoughts that raced all over the place.
I looked at another son in his big blue eyes, as he told me about how the second day of school was so much better than the first, and how happy it made him. I also melted when later, he saw me in my time of need. I was feeling completely overwhelmed while making dinner and I pleaded with everyone to not ask me any more questions for a while. My son just came up and hugged me. He always knows when I can’t anymore, and his hugs are magic, and always timely given. His affectionate, sensitive soul is a tender mercy in my life.
My husband also picked up on my cues of my slight mental breakdown last night, and after we jointly put the kids to bed, he grabbed me in his arms and let me cry, and tell him about ALL THE THINGS weighing on me. He JUST listened and held me. He didn’t even try to attempt to tell me what he thought I should do like he normally is prone to do. He just listened. Even though he had had a stressful day at work. Even though I had made a big deal about a good thing he was going to do. And even though I had been kind of grouchy and ornery most of the evening. I apologized for my tears, my outburst, and for venting all my frustrations. And then he said, “It’s ok, you’re allowed to feel overwhelmed and stressed, your emotions and feelings are just as important as everyone else’s. You can be sad, you don’t need to apologize about it.”
I went on a walk today with a good friend, and we talked for four miles about all the things. It is so therapeutic to have a good friend, who sees you, knows you so well, and listens. There’s something about connecting with a good friend, especially one who often sees things the way you do, and helps broaden your perspective. It can be rare to find such a friend as we age, that’s why it’s all the more precious and incredible when you do.
And that’s all within three days. All these moments of heart-to-heart connection. Of feeling heard, and understood. Of being loved completely, even sometimes in some of my not-so-great moments. And it helps soften my burdened heart. This happens especially as I reflect on, and feel deep gratitude for these moments. These deeply personal, emotional, and messy human relationships, we get the privilege to have and experience in this life. Be present for them. Embrace the emotion, and let yourself be vulnerable to have others help lift you back up. We truly need each other.