Seeking connection? You get what you give

Chaplain’s Corneroliver edwards

Padre Oliver Edwards

A good friend of mine reached out to me, who I haven’t heard from in a few years. She, like many of us, has been struggling with social distance. In her case though the problem dates back a bit longer than our present pandemic reality.

A lot of us want to build relationships with people. We know inside ourselves that we need people in our lives – friends, supporters, encouragers, people who care about us. But somewhere along the way some have forgotten that it takes more than wishes and dreams to make relationships a reality.

That feeling of disconnection, of isolation is not pleasant. I have had more than my share of seasons when I have felt that way. In the military context, we live in a funny world where intense and loyal relationships can often come into existence very quickly while on BMQ or on deployment in an intense environment. But then we return home, and get posted, and suddenly we are surrounded by all new people, already in relationships with each other, and sometimes it feels like they don’t have room for us. What do you do then?

When I feel disconnected like this more often than not it isn’t the other people’s fault. It isn’t them who needs to be different or be more welcoming or be nicer… It’s me. I am feeling tired or uncomfortable and I don’t want to put energy into others – I want them to put energy into me. But the problem with that is most people don’t just give energy to strangers. They give energy to those who they are connected to.

We need to remember this: You get what you give. When you love others, when you reach out to others and care for them, there is a blessing that comes. Even if others you reach out to don’t love you back in the way you might like, your heart is filled because there is something special in living for others… living selflessly. Religions explain it by suggesting we are syncing our actions with the desires of the divine. Or maybe it is about aligning ourselves with our design – whether evolutionary or creative design is irrelevant. The fact is we are made to care for one another.

We all want someone else to go first. It takes bravery to go first. There is risk involved. There is the possibility of rejection. But if I have learned one thing from my life so far, gaining even one good friend is worth a hundred acquaintances who have not returned your care. Take the risk. Reach out. Give first, and you will get what you are looking for. It’s coming.

oliver.edwards@forces.gc.ca