These are dark and strange times indeed. In the UK, like in many parts of the world, we are now in a stage of almost total lock down in attempts to limit the spread of Covid-19. There is fear, massive uncertainty, and grave concern about the health of loved ones and the catastrophic financial impact of social distancing and mass closures. But emerging from the ashes of the world we used to live in are many stories of human kindness, thoughtfulness, inventiveness and generosity.
What strikes me most about this is the fundamental importance of connection.
For the past three years I have facilitated a CCNI community for Coaches living and working in Europe. Without a doubt, this community has been the richest and most joyous environment for connection, learning and growing that I have ever had the privilege to be part of. Why? We are all coaches, so are skilled at asking powerful questions. There is space to listen and reflect. None of us jumps in to give advice or fix. Accountability, support, encouragement and a lot of fun are always present. And all this is true of many coaching communities.
But I have been asked about the depth of connection and raw honesty that prevails in this community. Reflecting on this, my answer is rooted in my own unlearning of negative behaviours, along with some not-always-well-received personality traits.
For many years, I kept a thick suit of armour in place over any vulnerability. I was ‘fine’ thank you, very strong, capable and independent. Being in control was paramount to feeling safe, and expressing fears and uncertainties was anathema to me. Two key relationships in my life had taught me that it was not safe to express fears and vulnerabilities, and even if I did, those feelings would not be noticed or validated. But God has been at work over the past few years systematically dismantling these negative beliefs and teaching me that I am safe with Him. The pain and exhaustion of living behind armour and my feelings going unnoticed now means that I have a passionate desire for others to be truly seen and to allow them to shine. Sharing my own vulnerabilities and being honest about my own struggles is a powerful way to create space for others to open their souls too.
Furthermore, I am by nature very direct (an Enneagram 8 if that makes sense to you!). I will be the one who asks about the elephant in the room and am not one to skirt around issues. And as a ‘so what’ sort of person, my heart is to get to the root of the issue – if we are having this conversation and it is not moving either of us towards God or a deeper understanding of and connection with each other, then what’s the point?
So what to take from this as you think of your own communities? Deep, honest and open vulnerability brings stronger connections. Confidentiality, good boundaries and trust are key and might need to be spelled out at the start. But ultimately I know that my often battered and bruised heart is held safe by the God of connections and I am truly seen and dearly loved by Him. From this place of security, I can open up to others and together we strengthen connections. And in this Covid-19 world state, how much more important is that?
About the Author
Catriona Futter is a Christian Life Coach, writer and speaker who is passionate about equipping people to discover and live out their unique, God-given identity and purpose. She runs her own business Equip for Life Coaching from her home in Glasgow, Scotland, offering individual coaching, the unique Coaching Programme The 10 Things Challenge, Team coaching, and speaking. She lives with her husband and two teenage daughters. She blogs at http://equipforlifecoaching.com/blog/