Last week, we talked about the importance of connection. These past few months have been a powerful reminder that all of us need to be connected with others. And the reason is, connection is what makes us human. It contributes to our wholeness as people.
We all need connection…because we are better together than we are alone.
This month, we’re focusing on ways that we can help each other through this unusual season of disconnection. Difficult seasons of life like the one we’ve been in require a certain level of resilience. Resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult situations. It’s the psychological quality that enables people to bounce back strong (or even stronger) when faced with adversity.
The good news is that we can help build resilience in each other (and our students) through connection. Here are four ways that we can help build resilience through relationships:
- Focus on developing social connections (big or small). In other words, continue to invest in the people that you already know. And, look for opportunities to make new connections with others. Now is not the time to shy away from connection. Now is the time to reach out to others, get to know your neighbors, and connect with the student(s) you mentor. Encourage them…and let them encourage you.
- Focus on developing (or reestablishing) a sense of purpose. School closures and job losses have impacted a lot of us. And, it’s forced us to think about things like our identity (what makes us who we are) and our purpose (why we do what we do). Now is a good time to think about those things for yourself. And, also help others (especially your student) think and dream about what their lives could like now and in the future.
- Focus on becoming more adaptive and flexible. This is perhaps more natural for some and harder for others, but adaptability and flexibility are huge strengths to have in any season of life. As adults, we can model these qualities even as we are continuing to learn how to better implement them ourselves. In conversations you have with the student(s) you mentor, you can help them develop these qualities by sharing stories from your own life and talking through different scenarios they are facing in their life.
- Focus on hope. In these times, it’s easy for all of us to feel hopeless about certain things (or even about life in general). And, students especially need us to help them focus on hope right now. The seeds of hope can be planted in someone’s life through connection. Connection communicates that we care, that students are not alone, and that there is hope that can be better experienced together than alone. Hope is contagious. So, let’s be people who focus on hope these days, and share that hope with others.
Check back next week for more ways we can best help each other through this unusual season of disconnection.
Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington State, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years. When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He also loves to network with other youth workers.