Connection

My husband and I seem to have a problem with rings.  On our honeymoon 25 years ago this week, he lost his wedding band in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.   About a month ago, I sucked up my diamond band in the vacuum, shattering one of the diamonds and ruining the setting.  Wedding rings are a symbol of the connection in marriage.  If our connection was based on how well we took care of our wedding rings, we would be in trouble.

Thankfully, our marriage is still intact and unaffected by our ring mishaps.  Life is messy, though, and relationship connections make up a large part of that messiness   Connection gives us purpose and meaning, and according to author and researcher Brene Brown, the ability to feel connected is part of our neurobiological wiring.

Brown shares what she’s learned through a decade of research into connection in a 20-minute presentation available on http://www.ted.com.   She tells us that in order for us to experience true connection with others, we have to show our true selves, imperfections and all.  We have to let go of who we think we should be and have the courage to be imperfect.  In other words, we have to be naked in all our glory.

This reminds me a verse in Genesis about Adam and Eve before the serpent showed up:

“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame” (The Message, Genesis 2:25).  Adam and Eve experienced connection with each other, where they felt accepted for who they were and how they looked, and they graciously extended that to each other.

In her presentation, Brown reveals that shame (one major deterrent to connection) is universal – we all have it to one degree or another.  But her research turned up something quite unexpected.  She found that while shame and vulnerability were common to all, those who had healthy connections (a “wholehearted” approach) had a strong belief that they were worthy of love and belonging.  Though they didn’t feel being vulnerable was comfortable or easy, they saw that being authentic to themselves and being open and vulnerable with others was necessary for true connection to occur.

Being authentic to who we are and allowing others to see that is not easy.  But as I’ve thought about our hang-ups (okay, my hang-ups) with imperfection and vulnerability, I’m slowly becoming convinced that there is beauty in the vulnerability of imperfection through which the light of the Triune God shines through.  If we were created for connection with the Father, Son, and Spirit, as well as our fellow human beings, wouldn’t it make sense that the quality of our connection would depend in part on us being the unique person we were created to be?

It seems to me that any false self we might bring to a relationship would be unable to connect fully with another person, because the love and relationship that flow from the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit to us would be hindered, like a corroded pipe prevents a free flow of water.

As we accept ourselves and give that gift to others, relationship snafus like lost or ruined rings aren’t that big of a deal.  Our beliefs that “I am enough” and “I am acceptable” give us the grace to weather the mistakes we all make.

When we are willing to be open, authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect, the beauty of the Triune God shines through us and connects us with others.   By being willing to be vulnerable and authentic, we become a conduit through which Divine love, grace, and acceptance flow to a very thirsty world.

                 ~by Nan Kuhlman

photo courtesy of http://www.weddingringspix.com

8 comments so far

  1. Sheila Chilcote-Collins on

    AMEN! Great article, Nan! Thanks for linking it to Facebook!

  2. janehinrichs on

    Amen Nan! So true. If we can’t be vulnerable and honest in a relationship that relationship can’t be all it can be. This is true in friendships, marital relationships, family relationships. True power, true connection comes when we are willing to be totally ourselves, flaws and all, faults and all. Only then when someone loves us when they see all that do we know we are really loved. Thank you Nan. Happy Anniversary!

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jane,

      Thanks for your comment and anniversary wishes! Isn’t it amazing how the love of the Triune God flows through us and our relationships when we simply are the people we were created to be?

      Nan

  3. janehinrichs on

    It is amazing. God is so good! Glory to Him in the Highest!! hey, and today is my 43rd birthday! Just had cake and ice cream with my husband, my six kids, one of my stepsons and a friend.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jane,

      A belated happy birthday to you! Hope you had a great day!

      Nan

  4. Jeannine on

    It’s only been recently that I have been able to look at myself and see that I am enough, and that I am acceptable. I feel so much calmer, more relaxed and happier with that knowledge. It seems I am surrounded by people who are so antsy about themselves and whether they are being and doing enough. It’s great to be able to step put of that never-ending rat race. What a difference it makes to my child-rearing too. I’ve never been one to push my children, but I am especially aware of the messages I send to them now – and am making sure I let them know every day (often more than once) that they are enough and that they are acceptable – that they are perfect little works in progress to God and to me.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jeannine,

      It is interesting how our relationships with others are so directly affected by our relationship with the Triune God. We can only rest when we understand and accept that we are OK even with our tendency to sin, and only then can we extend that acceptance with patience when others sin. The more I internalize this truth, the more I think that we are much more worried about sin than the Father, Son, and Spirit are. More on that in a future blog.

      Thanks for your thought-provoking response,
      Nan


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