Connection. During these days of this deadly disease when we have all had to be ‘safe at home’ and learn ‘social distancing,’ we have also had to give attention to the nature of our connections. When we understand that we have a virus that we cannot see and that we also can’t see symptoms of in those who might be transmitting it, then our ability to connect has to be limited. It has been a challenge.
We should ask ourselves how we have handled this time of medically required distance. How have we reached out to others? With whom do we feel safe? How do we satisfy the need to communicate? What methods are still viable or preferable?
I personally have made an effort during the course of the last year to connect intentionally with friends on a daily basis. The easiest way for this to happen is through our electronic media. A quick note to let someone know that they are being thought of has value. It is a great thing for any of us to realize that someone out there remembers us and is sending us positive energy. If we know that someone is praying for us—all the better!
One effect of this is that I have had numerous occasions when someone will say something along the lines of “you don’t know how much that meant to me today” or “you always seem to know when I need encouragement.” It happens frequently.
It is not because I’m some kind of mind-reader or have powers of empathy that reach across the miles and set off an alarm in my mind and spirit. It is not because I am so special or spiritual that this happens. Believe me, I have no superpowers. So those times when I seem to have hit it just right are not that I have incredible timing. I don’t think that I do. It is something much simpler than that.
The truth of the matter is that I make time—I take time—to reach out with encouragement. It only takes a few minutes to bang out a note to someone and let them know someone else is thinking of them. In a matter of seconds it can be transmitted to their phone or device, and they can instantly feel the effect of being valued. It is a quicker and more efficient means of connecting than what we have had before.
Just yesterday I had another case of someone responding to a quick note with the affirmation that my timing was just right. For this person it made a difference in their day to know that they had been remembered and that someone had taken the time to let them know.
These are what I call hits. Just as a batter has to see the ball and time the swing to make contact, I have swung and made contact at the moment when it was needed. There is power in that connection. It changes things. A new dynamic takes place. I love getting ‘hits’ and I think that others enjoy it as well. Indeed, I love it when I get a ‘hit’ in my direction as well. As much as I love giving encouragement, I also like to have some back. It goes both ways. Like lots of connections, there is both the sending and receiving that has to take place.
Of course, batters also know that they are not going to hit every pitch thrown their way. There will be misses as well.
I had a miss yesterday too. There will be times when someone reaches out or sends a note or a text and I might not see it right away. I may get distracted and forget. I may not see it again until later in the day.
Someone with whom I regularly connect had said something important. He was facing a disappointment. I was not in a good place to respond when it came in, and then something else came up. And the day went by without my replying to his message. It felt like a miss on my part.
So this morning I shot off a reply—probably before he was even awake. You get several strikes after all. My hope is that he finds it this morning and he feels the connection that he was looking for yesterday. Perhaps yesterday’s miss becomes this morning’s hit.
That, too, concerns timing. I have to be mindful of time zones—instant communication zips right through time zones to different parts of the day. I have to be mindful of who I am trying to connect with—college students tend not to be up as early as I am. I have to think about who is working when, although there is also something good about getting pinged at work from someone who is not asking for something or assigning ‘other duties as required.’
Hit or miss. That’s the way connections and communications work sometimes. Often the hits are a matter of being conscious of other people’s situations and reaching out to them in their times of crisis. But it is also a matter of consistently offering to connect—of letting them know they matter even when we’re not actively in conversation. It is a hit when someone receives attention and appreciation that seems to come out of nowhere. I may not be in all my friends’ daily lives, but I get the privilege of being there sometimes.
Sometimes the misses are temporary whiffs that are short. I can see that I missed an attempt to communicate and respond at the next possible opportunity. If nothing else, I can remind myself to be more attentive in the time to come. Misses are not necessarily final but sometimes are delayed.
I never know but what this offering may be a ‘hit’ for someone who reads it. Perhaps it strikes something in the reader that makes her want to compose that note and hit send. Perhaps it reminds you of that message you missed that could still benefit from your response.
Hit or miss. Connections tend to run that way.