The Cost of Connection

whatnottoaskIn the last several days, I’ve seen a lot of lists of what not to say or do when you encounter someone who has.. a child with autism, suffered a loss, some difficult challenge, or…you fill in the blank.

I know I’ve thought of my own list for someone who has multiples.  (No, they don’t share a brain!)   Mostly, the lists are helpful because they offer some insight into someone else’s perspective.   But, to be honest, I have found them to be off-putting of late.

Could I just be reacting to the fact that I’ve said or done some of the things on the lists?  Maybe.   According to the lists, I have said and done things that have not been received well.   I have been ignorant and uncaring.  I have really hurt some people without intending to or knowing I did.  But I think my unease is more than that.

See, when I think back to the times I’ve violated the lists, it’s when I am trying to reach out and connect with someone.

When I encounter someone who is doing something I’ve never experienced or going through a difficult time, I tend to ask questions.  Some of those questions probably sound silly and weird (which may indicate my need to think before I ask), but often it’s a result of my lack of knowledge and my desire to know more.  I want to understand as best I can what’s happening.   I want to know what the other person is experiencing and feeling.   I’m looking for things we have in common.   I’m looking for a way to connect.  And, often, I’m looking for ways that I might be able to help or encourage.  In doing so, I violate the lists.

So I become reluctant to enter in.  I hesitate to ask questions.  I don’t pursue connection.

But God created us for connection.  We need it.  We long for it.  We wither without it.

So to all of you whom I have asked dumb questions or hurt in some way, I’m sorry.  It was not my intention to cause you pain or suffering.

But I can no longer let my fear of violating the lists keep me from trying to connect.  I will run the risk of sounding stupid or saying something wrong.  Connection is worth it….

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