Humanity’s Common Longing: Connection.
One of the most basic and common traits of humanity is that we all desire connection with one another. We desire to be in relationship and to find some sort of fulfillment therein. People want to be known and loved both because of, and in spite of, what is found. I’m sure it’s not news to you that many barriers prevent these connections from forming: inconvenience, fear, and insecurity, just to name a few. We are designed for connection and relationship, and cannot survive without it. Babies who receive all of the basic needs (food, water, shelter) but lack love and social interaction do not properly develop. At our most basic level, we need relationship for survival.
So if we need and desire real and deep connections with others, why can it be so difficult? Why do we turn to false forms of connection (dare I mention Facebook?) rather than the grittiness of real relationship, relationship that requires intentionality, frustration and joy, among other things? Why do we numb ourselves with shopping, pornography, drugs/alcohol, or even something as seemingly innocuous as productivity instead of diving into real relationships?
I recently watched this 20 minute TED talk on the subject of human connection from a research standpoint and was blown away by what I heard. Those who live “whole-heartedly,” those that are connected and experience life’s full range of experience and relationship all practice and see the need for vulnerability. That’s the keystone. It’s what holds the whole thing together. They don’t say that vulnerability is particularly fun or enjoyable, nor do they say that it’s awful or detestable; they simply say that it is absolutely necessary for connection. Check out the video:
Relationship and connection are the way that we are refined and become the people we were created to be, and vulnerability is needed to experience the fullness of connection with each other. What do we have to risk by being vulnerable? Actually, quite a bit: we will probably feel rejected, inadequate, and…well…vulnerable. But the alternative is bleak: isolation, loneliness, and a pared down experience of what God has called “good.” I take great comfort in knowing that I have nothing to hide, at least not from God. In the desert Hagar cried out to “the God who sees me.” If God sees us, who are we hiding from? Each other, I suppose. I’m no advocate for walking around vomiting your deepest secrets on everyone you come across, but we must have people in our lives that we can unload that stuff onto and dialogue with. This is the road to full life, and I believe it is the path to redemption.
Let’s practice vulnerability, even when it hurts and is uncomfortable.