‘The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the body of Christ is to be people deeply connected to each other, supporting each other, and filling each other’s hearts.” — Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Have you ever watched a hummingbird out your window? Don’t blink or you may miss it! A hummingbird’s wing speed is 70 times per second and can be up to 200 times per second when diving. They fly 25 to 30 miles per hour and that speed can be up to 60 miles per hour when diving. They are the only bird that can fly forwards, backwards, sideways and upside down. As you observe them, it may appear as if they are so frantic and moving so fast that they can’t possibly be making a real connection or productive contact.
In our hectic lives, many times this is true of us, failing to make a quality connection in our relationships. For someone who is hurting, they are waiting expectantly for their hurt to matter to someone. All too often those in their lives flit by like a hummingbird and then they move on with the busyness of their lives. Frequently, due to the isolated nature of their issues, they feel left out and left behind. As this becomes a pattern, the sufferer is left in the wake and feels unimportant, deserted and not valued. They have the sense of how low of a priority they are to those in their lives. What they need is someone who will actually land long enough and often enough to be aware of, and sensitive to, their yearning for connection, relief, love, compassion and encouragement. They need more than empty words about how much you care. They need you to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
The challenge for all us is to slow down long enough to show those in our lives, who are hurting and in pain, that we really do care and that they are not all alone.
“Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” ~ James 2:1 (MSG)
Reflections on REAL CONNECTION
Have you ever passed someone in a hall or in a store and a few seconds after you passed them, you realized that they were struggling with something…that something was not right for them? Most of the time we just shrug off that feeling and move on, but since our son died, I have learned to listen to that small soft voice prompting me to pay attention because it is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Without fail, every time I have turned around and gone back to that person, there has been an unexpressed need for encouragement and help. The situations have been quite diverse in nature, but the overall need for someone to care has been universal.
Sometimes people just need to be noticed and acknowledged. Sometimes it is no more than asking how they are doing and waiting for a real answer…not just the usual “fine” response. A dear friend once shared an acronym with me for “fine:”
Expressing (the truth).
It is incredibly important to say to hurting people, “What you feel matters to me.” Are you willing to take the time to make people feel like they really matter? Jesus not only took the time, He left the glory of Heaven to come to a dark, dirty world and be rebuked and persecuted instead of being worshipped as He deserved. He cared enough to die…for us AND for them. My friend learned that acronym for FINE while she was in rehab for drug addiction. They were encouraging them to be honest about where they are and not to just give the pat “Jesus” answer when people ask the question ‘How are you?’ When you are afraid people either won’t care how you really are doing, or you are afraid that they might say something hurtful if you are honest in your response, then you just put on your “happy Christian face” and say “fine” and pull back into your shell just a little bit more to protect yourself from the potential of more hurt.
When we stop, look people in the eyes and wait for a response…don’t just keep on walking after we have asked how they are, then they feel acknowledged and, even more, like we genuinely care about them. They feel like they matter. Everyone wants to matter to someone, and really, don’t we all want to truly matter to multiple people? By stopping, we acknowledge that they are worth our time. By looking them in the eye, we are saying “I see you as an individual.” By waiting for their response and taking the time to actually listen to what they say, we are saying, “How can we not respond to His love by loving others as He does?”
The Message paraphrase is often gripping in the simple modern way it puts God’s Word into our everyday life.
“Stoop down and reach out to these who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law.” ~ Galatians 6:2 (MSG)
Prayer for the hurting person:
Help this one who feels invisible to know that You see their needs. You know everything they are feeling and You genuinely care about every single issue that is a struggle for them. Help them to know that You Never forget them! You put many stories in Scripture of people who seemed forgotten but You saw them. The paralytic lowered through the roof to Jesus may have felt forgotten but God led his friends to literally carry Him to Jesus for healing. Put your arms around this one who feels ignored and let her know she matters to You and to others, even when the others may have been self-absorbed in the past. Lift them up and encourage them.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Help me to seek Your face and Your leadership every morning so that I will be sensitive to the leading of Your Holy Spirit. When You touch my heart with concern, help me to respond immediately and compassionately to the one You are leading me to help or encourage. Help me to be less self-absorbed and more “God-absorbed” in my everyday life and actions. Help me to be willing to surrender my To Do list to Your will for me.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.