I recently attended two different meetings related to special needs. The specialed teachers’ meeting was held at the Newark, Michigan congregation- the first of its kind. There were 40- 50 special ed teachers in attendance from all over the US and Canada. One lecture was on improving communication and maintaining a neutral bias in the board/parent/teacher triangle of relationships. Another speaker addressed the topic of the influence of a teacher on her/ his students. Yet another presenter spoke on behaviors and finding ways to get to the root of the issue.

At the care meeting held in the Detroit, Texas congregation, a guest speaker spoke on parenting children from hard places. There was a short presentation on the role of the Resource Team, and there were breakout sessions on a variety of topics- school issues, teen mental health, effects of trauma, and ADHD. We listened to various people share their stories, many of them heartbreaking. Then we finished it all up with a panel discussion where the Resource Team discussed questions that came in from the audience.

As I look at all the above items, they seem to have a common theme- Connection! In the first place, having people come from far and wide to attend these meetings says that we value connection. We could have all stayed home and read books and done research on the topics, but there is something so valuable about learning together. The special ed teachers were delighted to connect with others of similar interests. The presenters were happy to connect with people who were eager to learn. And all of us gained a greater determination to connect with the children and people whose lives we touch for without connection, we are nothing.

Second, there is something so very connecting about sharing hearts and weeping with those who weep. We find out there are others who struggle with the same
feeling of being alone in one’s battle. We realize that perhaps there are others whose lives are much more difficult than our own. Meaningful discussions happen almost without effort, when done in company of caring people and with delicious food and cups of coffee. Gathering in discussion groups can be invaluable as we
connect with people who “get it”.

The guest speaker at the care meeting spoke much about the results of a lack of connection in the lives of those people who come out of trauma. Their brains have not developed as they should have because of that lack of connection in the first years of life. The first and all-important connection to their biological mother has often been severed. Our job as caregivers is to try to rewire those brains. For these individuals to develop healthy, fulfilling lives, it is imperative for them to build connections with trustworthy people.

What is this thing we call connection? In these two meetings, the focus was often on the caregiver/child relationship, but the truth is, connection is vital to every
one of us. Connections have to do with relationships. God is all about relationships. Life is relationships. Even secular researchers are realizing that humans are hardwired for relationships. So, none of us are exempt from connection. We need connections to function in a healthy way. “Everything in life that truly matters can be boiled down to relationships.” Gary Smalley

It is interesting to note that when a search is made for the word “connection” in the King James version of the Bible, a word that comes up repeatedly is “yoke”. A
yoke has to do with teamwork. Some connections certainly seem to take more work than others. In friendships, some relationships or connections seem to happen of their own accord, whereas others take effort to maintain. Many parents of children from hard places will testify to the fact that establishing and building a connection with a child who does not trust them is, indeed, hard work. Trust is paramount for healthy connections to grow. In the case of parents building connection with a child who comes from trauma, building trust happens on only one side for a time, but eventually as that connection develops, there is the joy of reciprocation.

In his book, Scattered Minds, Gabor Matè holds to the theory that children who are on the ADD continuum may also suffer from a lack of connection or, as he
explains it, an attention deficit. Our lives can be so fast-paced that parents simply don’t take the time to connect with their children. This, in turn, decreases the secure connection needed for healthy development. Lately I heard someone speak of the similarities between connection and empathy. When we can empathize, and truly hear what the other person is saying, it creates connection.

What other attributes are part of this yoke we need? “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me….” In His time on earth, Jesus was all about connection. Learning
of His ways is a great way to increase connection. Being “yoked together” with others in healthy ways adds joy and fulfillment to our lives. For “if I have… all knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing …the greatest of these is love”. 1 Corinthians 13:2 and 13 NIV

Ida Klassen

Check out these recent additions to our website:

A website resource for grief: https://www.centerforloss.com/

There’s a great article on foster parenting under adoption resources.

We’ve added a new resource tab for children.

Another new resource, DNRS, can be found under the emotional health resources.