What it takes to make a meaningful connection (even with a stranger)
I was back at the hospital yet again. Even after two months of bedrest, tests, tests and more tests, there was still concern that our little baby girl was going to come too early. And so, with my heart pounding with worry and anxiety, my husband and I made our way past the nurse’s station to the registration office to get checked in for more time on the monitors and a handful more tests. Any extra measures we could take to keep our little girl growing in my tummy was worth it, but let me tell ya', these hospital trips were pushing me over the edge with anxiety.
You'll never guess what brightened each of those anxiety-filled visits. The comfort of a complete stranger. Well, she wasn’t a complete stranger to me, not anymore anyway. It was the same woman at the desk each time I got registered in Labor and Delivery. Each time we came back, she remembered me and even remembered the little details of life I’d shared with her during previous visits. “You’re still hanging in there?!” she’d say. “Last week I was actually thinking about you, wondering how you were doing.”
And thoughtful questions like: “What do you do throughout the day to keep yourself busy while you’re on bedrest?” and “How’s your little boy doing with all this?" and "Is he excited to be a big brother?”
And in return, she willingly opened her heart and answered my questions to her. She told me about her crazy couple of months ahead - weddings to be planned and sending a child off to college. She even shared tears with me as she told me how hard it was to think about saying goodbye to her granddaughter after a Christmas visit.
Even though we only spent five or so minutes talking each time I’ve been back at the hospital, those minutes became a time of meaningful connection. And with each visit, I felt I was coming back to a dear friend, and I looked forward to it. What a blessing! I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about her and wondering how, with such a small amount of time together and absolutely no history between the two of us, our conversations could be so meaningful.
I know there are times that a quick, “How are you?” or auto-response, “I’m fine. How are you?” are enough. But aren’t there times that we could be a little more vulnerable? When a little willingness to open up and share your heart could be the difference between a shallow and a meaningful moment or relationship? When some true, genuine concern and care could change everything for someone’s day? Like it did mine?
I sometimes hesitate to be true to myself and to show my weaknesses or true heart because it’s scary. When I open up, I tend to feel I’m leaving safety behind. I’m worried about being judged or misunderstood. I’m afraid, with my heart out in the open, people won’t care enough. I’m even scared that maybe I don’t fully understand who my true self even is.
But - as I’m realizing over and over again - often the most rewarding and meaningful experiences come from doing hard things. So, this is me being a little more vulnerable. And this is me opening my heart even more. I hope you’re willing to take a brave step forward with me and be a little more genuine and a little more vulnerable. Whatever that looks like for you. Whether it’s in your interactions with friends, family, or coworkers or maybe even a complete stranger. It might just make all the difference for you. Or for them :)