When we talk about connections, we can be talking about someone who works in a store that can get you a discount. For instance, I have a connection with someone who works at Dutch Bros and occasionally, I can get a free drink. Another can be a family bond or a friendship. Usually, the longer you’ve known the person, the stronger the connection. How about with a total stranger? You can be walking around and someone can compliment you on your shoes. That was a small interaction, but for a brief moment, you had a connection.
So, just how important are connections? Every relationship cannot succeed without some sort of connection. During this stay at home rule, I can’t go out and see my friends in Walla Walla or in Oregon, but we keep in contact by Snapchat and the occasional text. We find different ways to connect. Every effort to connect takes time and we have so much time on our hands that there shouldn’t be an excuse not to send a nice text message to check up on anyone. A great connection that we often take for granted is that one with God. He is the best person to have a relationship with because it is only through Him that we find true peace and happiness. He is our rock in our troubling times, and we can always count on Him to get us through the worst parts in our lives. If we keep a strong connection with Him, we won’t ever have to worry.
Now, what about missed connections-- those that we have chosen to neglect or ignore. These connections can be friendships that have failed, people whom we despise, or the ones who have wronged us. It could also just be as simple as friends we haven’t seen in a few years. We can think that these relationships aren’t important, but I am here to tell you that we are wrong. These connections are important. People enter your life and you can have no idea why they are even there. I’m sure you have had these relationships with friends or acquaintances, so look back on them. Imagine your life without them: would you be the same person you are today? Did that failed relationship ultimately make you into a stronger person? Did that person who wronged you make you change the way you treat others?
I had one of these friendships. When I was younger, I had a friend who I met at the Oregon camp meeting. His name was Josh. We became instant friends. We hung out all the time and we talked about everything. We went to summer camp together for many years, we emailed and texted whenever we weren’t together. One year, I was going through something really difficult with another friendship and all the stress of it was getting to me. That summer when I met up with him, we talked for an hour about what was going on. We had opposing views on the matter and because we were both stubborn, we both snapped. We started arguing, calling each other out on things that we would have never brought up to each other. That conversation, that friendship, ended with me walking away from him, fuming.
Fast forward a year and I get a text from him. It was him apologizing for what had happened a year ago, saying that it was his fault for the end result of our friendship. I texted him back, thanking him for the apology and I told him that it wasn’t only his fault- it was mine as well. After that, we went to summer camp that July and when we saw each other, it was like nothing had happened. We picked up right where we left off. I had my best friend back. Little did I know, this would be one of the last times I would see him.
On April 4, 2017, I got a call saying that Josh, my best friend, the one I ran around the Gladstone campground with, the one that I had reconnected with just months before, had committed suicide.
Three years later, as I write this, I can only reflect on the relationship I had with this amazing young man. I think about what he had done for others and how much of a blessing he was to everyone. I remember that I loved him dearly, and I never got to tell him. I was foolish enough to let an argument get in the way of a strong, close friendship. Of course the thoughts of “What if I called him,” “If only I texted him one more time” repeat constantly in my mind, but it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. The only thing I can do is thank God for putting Josh in my life because I would not be who I am today without him. He taught me so much: how to always smile, to be kind, and always find the bright side of everything. He taught me to forgive, learn from the experience, and leave it in the past. Even though our friendship was severed, we both connected back together and made things right.
Every interaction, every connection we have with others is important; we were made for connection. God made us want to be with each other- to have relationships with one another. We were made to love each other and help each other out. Not all connections will be pleasant, but they are important. In a time of uncertainty and loneliness, let's make time to reach out to those we know and tell them that they are loved and thank them for everything they’ve done for us. By doing this, may we have a closer connection with each other and ultimately, with God.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”