This month I took a strengths assessment survey as part of a writing workshop I’m taking part in. Interestingly enough, given that my One Word is “connect,” my top strength came out as “Connectedness.”
The survey’s description of this characteristic includes phrases like “In your soul you know we are all connected…If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves.” It tells me I can be a “bridge builder” for various groups with differing views. It says that my faith in our underlying connection is strong and sustains me in the face of life’s mysteries.
I don’t always feel strong or faithful. I don’t always like being a bridge builder. Sometimes it feels as though I’m being torn apart between opposing forces that don’t want to be bridged, forces that are inside as well as outside me. And sometimes, the time for connection is not yet. I have to let go and wait for a more opportune time. Not everyone is ready to accept that harming other people means harming themselves, and vice versa. It’s too frightening a revelation of the depth of harm that they have both caused and sustained, crushing them with the consciousness of all there is to make up for and repair. I find that tough to face, too.
I don’t think it would be possible to survive such a revelation unless one feels connected not only to all of humanity, but to some power that holds on to our higher potential, something like a universal power of love. That’s what saved me, when I was brought face to face with the damage I had done to myself and others, when I had to choose whether to collapse under the weight of my misdeeds or find the strength to stand up and try again.
People who were willing to give me another chance, to stay connected with me, helped me find that strength. People who believed I was more than the sum of what I’d done so far helped me to reconnect to myself. And the mystery of life that brings us into existence must somehow be connected to this unfolding strength as well.
I believe that this mystery does connect everything under the surface, no matter how distant and opposed we may seem, and that is the ground of any strength I may experience. To remember and practice that strength is surely one of my reasons for choosing the word “connect” this year. As this year comes to a close, I am grateful for all that it has taught me.
What resonates for you in this reflection? Or do you have another word to share?