The Courage to Connect: Day 3 / by Jeff Tacklind

The difficult thing about following breadcrumbs is that they’re hard to see.  We must tread gently…watchfully. We must step with care.  Otherwise we miss them.  We blunder past, or worse, step on them. To notice, we must slow our pace. We must open our eyes.

Discovering breadcrumbs is like deciphering a language.  There is a texture to them even deeper than feelings of joy.  They mean something.  And more than the individual delight they bring is the underlying revealing of the reality that we are deeply known and valued. 

Because we are being led, all of us.  The crumbs are reminding us that we all belong somewhere.  They are pointing the way home.

Last night Patty and I hosted the Young Adults Gathering for our church.  What a joy it is to welcome them into our home.  To light candles and pour tea.  To listen to the synergy of multiple conversations overlapping, like surround sound, from every corner of the house. 

It is such a sweet time of relationship and community.  Yes, we pray together and read and study the Bible together. But the deepest fruit seems to be in the spark of connection.  It requires courage and vulnerability, and yet results in such joy. 

There were several new people that came last night.  I was glad to see them settle in.  To find their voice in the group.  To allow themselves to be seen and known.

I mentioned to one of our guests at the end of the night how proud I was that he had shown up.  I told him that it must have been hard.  He paused for a minute and then admitted, with a slight blush, that he had felt some anxiety before he came in.

Another new visitor, sitting across from him in our recliner, leaned forward and quietly confessed that he had prayed for courage in his car before he came in.  It was such a tender admission.  I forget how difficult it can be to enter in to a new setting, with new faces, and to feel that loneliness that comes when sitting alone in the midst of strangers.

But then one of those that I’ve known for years came over.  She had overheard the conversation and admitted how hard it had been for her to come as well…that her husband wasn’t able to come with her that night, and the anxiety that it had caused to come alone.

As I sat there, in the comfort of my own living room, I was reminded just how scary relationships can be, especially new ones.  And as we grow older, how easy it is to detach from risk, to settle in to our safe routines, and to avoid the moments that yield the most fruit.

The deepest moments in life happen in heartfelt connection with others, that is almost beyond dispute.  But to do so requires courage.  Courage to be seen.  Courage to lower our guard.  To risk rejection.  To face the reality of being overlooked. 

When we do respond bravely, things change.  Not just our own experience, but the experience of others.  It changes the temperature in the room.  Others feel our vulnerability and are drawn to the warmth it creates.

Our feelings of social apprehension are ubiquitous.  All of us need that prod here and there…some of us more than others.  But the courage to step through our anxieties and to risk connection transforms not only our hearts, but the hearts of those around us.

I’m so grateful to have witnessed this simple little moment of bravery and the beautiful synergy it created.  I’m inspired to respond in kind, with that step of faith into the unknown, where vulnerability, connection, and intimacy await.  It is scary, but also so worth it.

Thank you, my three friends, for your courage.  What a pleasure to witness this little crumb.