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Building Meaningful Connections

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I’m sure we made an interesting picture as we sat around the restaurant’s big table: three tall, regal African-American ladies and me—the short little white girl whose feet barely reached the ground.

Though we couldn’t have looked more different from the outside, on the inside, we share a common goal. We met to discuss the vision of 4Ever Sisters, an organization founded by one of the ladies, Jessica Hadley, to bring “Sisters of all cultures together to heal hurting hearts.” Jessica and her board are strong, gracious women of integrity with huge hearts and a passion to connect with and help other women—regardless of socio-economic status, race or background. It’s an awesome ministry with an important mission. I’m excited about what they’re trying to do and am honored to get involved. (I’ll post more information once their website is up.)

Our conversation got me thinking about this need we all have for connections. Ironically, that evening, our church’s small group meeting focused on the same challenge: getting people connected.

Loneliness and isolation are swallowing people whole in our fast-paced world. It is easy to feel alone, even in a crowded room. Facebook, the internet, blogs, are all handy tools to stay connected, but there is nothing like face-to-face interactions with other people.

We all have a unique story, and the things we’ve gone through and the people we know can be combined to help others. It’s part of a cycle of caring: we comfort those in trouble with the comfort we received. 1 As veterans of the struggle, our unique perspective can encourage those staggering along a path we’ve already walked.

At other times, though, we’re going to need someone to carry our pack for a mile or two.

We all go through hard times. Nobody gets a pass. But when the bottom falls out of our world, we need people to be there and support us. The time to build those relationships is before we really need them.

Meaningful connections provide our safety net.

Wherever you are today, let me encourage you to find a group you can plug into. Join with other gardeners, writers, artists, crafters, parents, runners—whatever you’re interested in. Take a class, join an organization—do something. Get connected.

Is it intimidating at first? Of course. New stuff always trips our vulnerability trigger. But get out there anyway. Drag someone along, if need be. It is amazing how quickly one tiny connection can banish the huge gaping hole of isolation.

Have you found a way to get connected—despite your busy schedule? I’d love to hear how that has encouraged you.

Connie

[12 Corinthians 1:4, the Bible]

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    The Conversation

  1. Emma Lai says:

    I never thought I’d be a fan of texting or tweeting or Facebook, but it’s all become invaluable in keeping in touch with my friends and family. With a toddler on the lose, I barely have time to shove food in my mouth much less have long conversations with people. One day, I’ll get to visit for longer periods with people, but for now, the short message keeps me connected.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Emma–Parenting a toddler can be so isolating! So glad you are able to stay connected to friends and family. My only caution is to be careful you don’t let electronics replace face-to-face contact–we need both! 🙂

  2. Ava Bleu says:

    Hi Connie,

    Yes, I understand the social networking concept and I know it’s useful, but I do feel a lack of connection with people, sometimes. I try to join groups and take classes, otherwise I would be in the house on the computer for all my waking hours.

    It’s important to meet people you’ve never met online. Especially as writers, I think we have to constantly remind ourselves of all the ways people communicate because not everyone is doing the social networking thing. And as a human, I think it is necessary to remember what it feels like to allow someone into your space. Body language is one of the best ways to get to know someone and you can’t get that on the computer!

    All the best,

    Ava

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Ava, I absolutely agree!! There is nothing quite like in-person contact. We need that, and however much social networking is important, we can’t let it take the place of real people connections. Otherwise, we’re left feeling hollow.

  3. Dianne says:

    With two young children and a writing career that keeps me consumed with a keyboard, I find escape from isolation via volunteering my time. It gets me out of the house, I meet new people, and I’m making a positive impact on the world around me.

    It helps!