NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s about relationships — doing life in community.
Humans are created for relationships. The need to love and be loved motivates us. The sense of belonging drives us. The value of connection draws us to others.
Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. You may possess strong family ties and enduring childhood friendships. You may have lost touch with fellow Airmen whom you met early in your career. You may reach out occasionally to former supervisors and commanders. You may have a friend or partner you connect with daily. Each relationship along the way has shaped and molded you into the person you are today.
On the other hand, when we isolate ourselves, we feel lonely. When we withdraw, we feel excluded. When we hold back, we deprive ourselves of the blessing of connection. Relationships foster resiliency and help us learn about ourselves and others. They protect us from being alone on this journey.
As a chaplain, I believe we are created to be in relationships. For me, this means relationships with others and a relationship with God. For you, it may mean simply human relationships, or it might also include a relationship with the Eternal One, your Higher Power, The Holy.
Whatever that looks like for you, a connection with someone or something greater than ourselves opens the heart to wonder and awe. Whether you practice a religion, have faith or just feel spiritual, a spiritual connection nurtures in us an expression of purpose and a sense of meaning.
Relationships are complicated and messy, yet enriching and fulfilling. Maintaining relationships takes work, but the benefits are worth it. Understanding leads to forgiveness, commitment to intimacy, and sacrifice to joy. As we invest time and effort, we share in each other’s lives. Life done in community is better; it grants us support as we walk together through challenges and victories.
I stay connected with a childhood friend. Through the years, we have had times when communication was sparse and times when we lived in the same city. She is someone I can reach out to no matter what I’m going through. We are there for each other in the good and the bad; we are a safe haven for each other. We listen with compassion and without judgment. Recently, Julie called to tell me about the breakup of her marriage. Devastated and heartbroken, she shared her thoughts and emotions. This crisis has rekindled our connection.
Three years ago, I experienced a tremendous loss with the death of my husband. My relationship with him spans more than half my life. During the difficult time since his passing, I have met new friends. They offer encouragement; they reach out to me. Through their support, I continue to heal. I know I could not have travelled the journey this far without them. I am truly blessed with these new friendships.
Our social connections have the potential to impact our lives for the better.
In the military, we find community where we are stationed because often our loved ones are far away. That’s why it’s so important to stay connected with those close by. Authentic relationships facilitate growth, enhance purpose, and generate hope. I encourage you to reflect on your relationships and to reach out and express your gratitude to family and friends.
“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Stay connected … stay strong.