I sat listening to a speaker, with my wife, the other night talk about the need for connection, a need for relationships, with people in order to change the world. At the end there was time for Q&A. Many people understood the need for connecting with people who are hurting, lost or in the midst of struggle. However, many questions were geared to how to engage and connect with the people the see everyday.
Many people felt unqualified to help others. The presenter said that someone asked him once what made him qualified to help others and he responded, “because I have a pulse.” We often underestimate our ability to simply be with people. You are qualified, you have a passion, you have talents and you are surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes, all we need to do is be vulnerable enough to invite someone else into our lives. Through this invitation we can connect with people.
Having a hard time figuring out how? Start small. Learn a persons name. There is power in a name, the feeling of being known by someone. Ask questions to get to know them. Go do something with them; share a meal, or go volunteer together, anything to allow proximity. Then, be vulnerable to share about yourself first.
Impacting the lives of others impacts our own lives too. We are able to grow and learn along with the people that we interact with. Maybe you’re a mentor, a teacher, a volunteer or an advocate, your proximity to other people rubs off on you. It is meant to. Rubbing shoulders with people can be messy, don’t be afraid. When you walk with people through life the learning is reciprocal.
Don’t go into a relationship hoping to fix someone, go in just to be with them. When we go in with our own expectations and our own agendas we miss the opportunity to simply be with someone else. There may be frustration when they make a decision we don’t agree with or relapse into an old habit. If we have our own agendas we will be tempted to simply walk away. When we walk away from another we lose the opportunity to share life together.
Life change is not a sprint it is a marathon. Love over time. Sometimes a very long time. Connecting with people, especially those who society has pushed to the margins, is what life is about. Go after authentic relationships, have great conversations, get messy and laugh. You are qualified, you have a pulse.