It's easy for me to connect with people initially. I am exposed to lots of like-minded women in Bible study and fun-loving women in the Creative Arts ministry at our church. Finding people I'd love to spend more time with and get to know better is simple. There are a lot of fascinating people on this earth, you know?!
But time is limited. I still have a family. I still have responsibilities (and I STILL HAVE MESSY CLOSETS! ARG!). I would love to do lunch and coffee with people every day, but the reality is I can't. I'm afraid I've disappointed a lot of people. I don't mean to, but I'm human. I mess up. I'm not perfect (gasp!).
I find the people I have the best connections with are those who are patient with me, those who don't lay high expectations on me or my time, those who love me even if I forget their birthday or don't return their phone call right away, those people who greet me the same way whether we've seen each other or not, those who don't hold me to a faultless standard I cannot achieve. My most satisfying relationships believe the best about me and simply love me, no matter what I do or don't do, flaws and all.
If that's what I desire in relationships, I need to be willing to do the same for others. I can't take it personally if a friend cancels because they're swamped at home. I shouldn't assume she's mad at me if I don't hear from her for a week. I shouldn't read too much into it if she seems grouchy or short on the phone. I need to give her the benefit of the doubt and realize she has bad days and hormones which wreak havoc on her just like mine do.
I deepen my relationships by having no expectations on friends' behavior, by giving them the freedom to be honest with me when they don't have it in them to meet, by giving others the confidence they can't disappoint me and don't have to be anything for me. I don't base our relationship on how much time we spend together, but on a commitment to love them. Loving them means making the relationship easy to maintain and expecting nothing.
Can I ask you some tough questions? What kind of expectations are you projecting on your relationships? How are they making a connection with you difficult?
I am not meaning to point any fingers or make anyone feel bad. Believe me, I've spent a lot of time working through my own answers to these questions and it wasn't always pretty. But if we are serious about forming real connections with others, I think we have to face up to the fact that our expectations can drive people away from us.
A good way to cultivate lasting relationships is to provide a soil of commitment and faithfulness, being diligent to weed out our expectations which often choke the blooms of connection.
More Steps to Connection:
Understand All Have Insecurities
When Words Don't Come Easy