Archive for the ‘Connection’ Category

Empathy

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Empathy says: You and I are made of the same lovely, heartbroken, and screwed-up stuff. You are not an object to me right now. (Maybe I’m not, either! Let me get back to you on this.) Empathy, a moment’s compassion, seeing that everyone has equal value, even people who have behaved badly, is as magnetic a force as gratitude. It draws people to us, thus giving us the capacity to practice receiving love, the scariest thing of all, and to experience the curiosity of a child.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 174

Photo:  Cascade in France, September 29, 1997

Compassion

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Compassion isn’t a gift or talent – it’s the natural result of paying attention and realizing the infinite opportunities to connect with others.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 293

Photo:  Eibsee, Germany, July 17, 2000

Community and Kinship

Friday, September 6th, 2019

If we choose to stand in the right place, God, through us, creates a community of resistance without our even realizing it. To embrace the strategy of Jesus is to be engaged in what Dean Brackley calls “downward mobility.” Our locating ourselves with those who have been endlessly excluded becomes an act of visible protest. For no amount of our screaming at the people in charge to change things can change them. The margins don’t get erased by simply insisting that the powers-that-be erase them. The trickle-down theory doesn’t really work here. The powers bent on waging war against the poor and the young and the “other” will only be moved to kinship when they observe it. Only when we can see a community where the outcast is valued and appreciated will we abandon the values that seek to exclude.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 177-178

Photo: Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park, Virginia, August 31, 2019

Solidarity with Slaves

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

You actually abolish slavery by accompanying the slave. We don’t strategize our way out of slavery, we solidarize, if you will, our way toward its demise. We stand in solidarity with the slave, and by so doing, we diminish slavery’s ability to stand. By casting our lot with the gang member, we hasten the demise of demonizing. All Jesus asks is, “Where are you standing?” And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, “Are you still standing there?”

Can we stay faithful and persistent in our fidelity even when things seem not to succeed? I suppose Jesus could have chosen a strategy that worked better (evidence-based outcomes) — that didn’t end in the Cross — but he couldn’t find a strategy more soaked with fidelity than the one he embraced.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 173

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Embracing the Excluded

Monday, May 13th, 2019

In all three stories, the point isn’t just that Jesus healed these people; the point is that Jesus touched these people. He embraced them just as he embraced other disparaged members of society, often regarded as “sinners” by the religious and political elite — prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles, the sick, the blind, and the deaf.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 184

Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012

Delight in What’s Before You

Friday, May 10th, 2019

God, right there, today, in the person in front of me, joy beyond holding, beholding this day, Paradise. You delight in what is before you today in Christ. Richard Rolheiser writes that, “the opposite of depression is not happiness, it’s delight.” After all, we breathe the Spirit that delights in our being. We don’t breathe in the Spirit that just sort of puts up with our mess. It’s about delight.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 159

Photo:  Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2019

The Choice of Empathy

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Empathy is a choice. And it’s a vulnerable choice, because if I were to choose to connect with you through empathy, I would have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. In the face of a difficult conversation, when we see that someone’s hurt or in pain, it’s our instinct as human beings to try to make things better. We want to fix, we want to give advice. But empathy isn’t about fixing, it’s the brave choice to be with someone in their darkness — not to race to turn on the light so we feel better.

If I share something with you that’s difficult for me, I’d rather you say, “I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.” Because in truth, a response can rarely make something better. Connection is what heals.

If struggle is being down in a hole, empathy is not jumping into the hole with someone who is struggling and taking on their emotions, or owning their struggle as yours to fix. If their issues become yours, now you have two people stuck in a hole. Not helpful. Boundaries are important here. We have to know where we end and others begin if we really want to show up with empathy.

— Brené Brown, Dare to Lead, p. 142

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 15, 2019

Empathy

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Empathy is not connecting to an experience, it’s connecting to the emotions that underpin an experience.

— Brené Brown, Dare to Lead, p. 140

Photo:  Mission Bay, California, December 31, 2003

Liking Yourself More

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

As we have explained, you can feel connected whenever you want, simply by choosing to feel connected. You can even do it in your head, if your partner is unavailable. You can do it when you’re irritated with your partner just as easily as when you’re enraptured with him or her — if you truly want to. And why would you want to if he’s acting like a jerk or she’s being a nag? Well, for one thing, he’s less likely to act like a jerk if he feels connected to you, and she’s less likely to nag if she knows that you care about her feelings. But the more important reason is that you like yourself more when you feel connected to people you love than when you don’t. You like yourself more when you are nice to your partner than when you’re not. You like yourself more when you are true to the most important things about you than when you are not.

One of the most destructive phrases to emerge from modern therapy and self-help books is “getting your needs met” or its variation “What about me?” These little words, and the self-centered attitudes they represent, have done more to promote entitlement and resentment and less to nurture love, compassion, and connection than just about anything that has passed for relationship advice. They fly in the face of a known law of human interaction: You must give what you expect to get. If you want compassion, you have to be compassionate; if you want love, you have to be loving; if you want cooperation, you have to be cooperative; if you want appreciation, you have to be appreciative day by day.

— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 210-211

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 26, 2014

Approach Mode

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Fortunately, approach modes that include attempts to understand and appreciate are almost as contagious to our partners as avoid and attack modes. In other words, if you are interested in your partner, he or she is likely to become interested in you. But if you dismiss, avoid, or devalue, what do you think will be the likely response?

— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 173

Photo: Gundersweiler, Germany, October 2000