The Surprising Gift of Connection

When I first started blogging (not so long ago), I attempted to encourage people to comment on my blog.  Although I knew people were reading it because I can see the stats, I thought comments would be a good way to show first-time visitors that there were other people reading my thoughts, and so maybe I had some interesting things to say.  A few kind people would comment from time to time, and I really appreciated it when they did.  Although it would still be great to have more active discussion in the comments, I have come to realize two things.  One, it is extremely rare that I comment on blogs or articles online.  So, if my blog is attracting people who are somewhat similar to me, then it makes sense they wouldn’t be jumping to comment, either!  Two, the personal connections my writing has created and strengthened have been more meaningful than comments could be.

Sometimes the most meaningful connections involve the words, “Me, too.”  It has been so encouraging to me each time someone has communicated this sentiment in response to my writing.  Whether in person, through e-mail, or through facebook, it means so much to me to know that I am not the only one struggling the way I do or trying to approach life in the way I am.  Sometimes these messages come from people I know quite well.  Often, however, they come from people I know in passing, haven’t spoken to in years, and even people I’ve never met.  It is incredible to think that what I’m saying connects with people enough that they would take the time to tell me so.  I’m glad my readers can see themselves in my writing and that this venture of mine can be an encouragement to us both.  It is an unexpected gift.

I have a dear friend with whom I have many of these “me, too” connections.   In some ways, our lives are very different, but the similarities in our joys and struggles never cease to amaze me.  She has been an incredible support to me lately, and it’s those similarities that make her support so meaningful. She “gets” it. I ran into her the other day.  Although we had already been in touch quite a bit that week, it was such an important delight to see her.  Our “chance” encounter reminded both of us how unexpectedly significant our friendship has been, especially in terms of how uniquely we relate to each other.

For me, these blessings bring to mind one of my favorite scenes from the musical Les Mis.  A priest takes in starving convict-on-parole Valjean.  Valjean returns the man’s kindness by stealing his silver and running away in the middle of the night.  The police come across Valjean with the silver, assume he has stolen it, and drag him back to the priest.  The priest not only pretends to have given Valjean the silver, he further insists Valjean also take a pair of candlesticks, by far the most valuable pieces of the set.  You can watch the clip from the 2012 movie version below.

One of the first times I saw the musical on stage, I remember thinking, “Wow–that’s how God treats us.  We don’t even deserve pardon, but He goes beyond that to say: ‘Here, take this, too.’ “

It’s really easy to get lost in frustration and anger and even self-pity over the hard parts of life.  Noticing the gifts–the incredible supports God has given us in the midst of our trials–is so important.  But there’s something else really neat about all of these personal connections I’m finding: they offer me proof of the title of my blog.  Guess what?  You’re not alone… and I’m not, either.

A related post that may interest you: Letting Others See Your Broken Pieces

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What We See and What We Don't
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