SHINE: Fortify By The Spirit — Strength in Connection

SHINE! … By the Spirit™ with Tonya M. Evans

Strength in Connection

© 2010 Tonya M. Evans

BridgeTwo people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (New Living Translation)

The following statement may seem like an oxymoron, but I am the classic extroverted introvert. I love being out and about and having a good time, being coupled up, and hosting the occasional soireé (complete with the grill, music, laughter, wine and Wii®, of course). But for me, there’s nothing like cruising on the open road with my favorite iPod playlist blasting, dining solo at my favorite sushi place, going for a fast walk or slow jog on a nice day, or sitting in my favorite chair in my favorite room relaxing, relating and releasing by … my … self. Now maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am an only child (yes, yes, I know … I’m in therapy for it!). But I did grow up learning to play nicely by myself more than with others;  a blessing when I use it proactively to nurture myself, but a curse when I use defensively it to keep others out.

Over the years, admittedly I became my own private island. Slowly but surely both nature and nurture provided the proverbial bricks for what somehow turned into a considerable fortress of purported security – with me on the inside and everyone else on the other side of the moat. Sometimes I’ve trusted myself and others enough to let down the drawbridge. Other times, due to fear I’ve chosen to be safe rather than sorry. But the truth is “safety” is nothing more than an illusion when in my hands alone and when I decide to trust only myself rather than to trust God and the people God places in my life to be the iron I need to sharpen me and help me to grow. And one of the most essential ways to grow in inner strength is to connect with others.

The presence of some people in our lives feels good, some not so good; but all have been placed in our lives for our ultimate good. But we have to let down the drawbridge so that we can step out and let others in. Real growth only comes from letting our defenses down. There is indeed strength in relationships; in connection.

Spiritual teacher Pema Chodron discusses the importance of openness and connecting in her best-selling book When Things Fall Apart. She speaks of widening our circle of compassion by tearing down our “walls” of fear and unforgiveness so that we can truly and authentically relate and communicate. And this type of connection can only happen when we open ourselves to the possibility (READ: certainty) of broken hearts and disappointments.

Only in an open space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly.

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart p. 104

When we choose to pull up our drawbridge out of fear and shut out the kindness of others, we make a conscious (or unconscious) choice to disconnect.  So is it any wonder why the world seems so inhospitable sometimes and why sometimes we just can’t make the necessary connection? But if we set up our lives inside a fortress of fear, we can’t then be surprised when no one shows up when alone gets lonely. Thank goodness we always have the opportunity to let down the drawbridge and reconnect.

So the choice is yours! Choose love over fear and opening up to life rather than shutting down, closing off and disconnecting. Today, choose to be FORTIFIED by connecting!

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2 Responses

  1. Fantastic quote! And oh so true. Yes, this topic is book worthy for sure!

    Peace & Abundance,

    Tonya

  2. This quote came to mind – “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
    — Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

    I could write a book on this alone!!!

    Thanks for sharing

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