During World War II Allied pilots returning from bombing raids on the oil fields in Romania were forced to bail out over Yugoslavia. Over time hundreds of pilots were found and protected by the villagers and the soldiers of the Yougoslavian General Mihailovich. These soldiers suffered from little amounts of food, lack of medical attention and most of all they were disconnected from the units. In August of 1944 the Allied Air force organized a secret mission consisting of dozens of C-47’s that flew in with the cover of dozens of fighter planes and rescued 512 airmen.[i]
Just as those airmen longed to be reconnected to their units, so couples who are cut off from each other in their marriages long for connection. The same longing happens with children and parents. We all long for connection.
People were made by God for connection, and this connection was meant to begin in the earliest stages of our lives. I love to see young parents excited about parenting, and how enjoyable it is to see them playing and interacting with their small children. Something incredibly wonderful happens when parents interact in a positive way with their little children.
Research has shown that isolation is more damaging to an infant than early mistreatment. Isolation hinders the baby’s neurological brain circuity from fully developing which will eventually show up in the child’s ability to concentrate and to control his or her emotions. For example, a baby that is ignored for hours on end in a neglectful home will eventually stop crying. The emotions of this little infant simply just shut down after being ignored for hour on end.[ii]
When Romania’s brutal dictatorship ended in 1989, there were state run orphanages that housed more than 100,000 abandoned children. Growing up in a loving home where parents give you more than food and shelter is essential to brain development. Romanian children from the orphanages prove that when a child does not have someone in their little life to give them attention and stimulate their brain—brain growth is stunted. The long term result is cognitive and emotional problems.
There is a special window for a child to be stimulated emotionally and intellectually by his or her parents. If that happens, the brain develops, and if it doesn’t, there will be odd behaviors. The child will have difficulty interacting with other people. Motor skills, language and personality development will be delayed. The brain activity of such children is diminished, and the physical size of the brain will be smaller.[iii]
Many problems have one root cause, and that cause is an emotional disconnection with the person or persons they love. When a husband and wife lose their connection, they are going to experience difficulties. If they don’t recognize what is happening and go to work on it immediately, there will be consequences. When a couple has to deal with the pain of an affair, it is a horrible experience. What is so important for them to discover is that the affair was the culmination of their emotional disconnection—not the beginning. Disconnections always begin in simple ways, such as that of not doing the kind and loving things for each other that characterize connected relationships. However, they also include an element of betrayal. Brene Brown has capably written on this subject in a fine book entitled Daring Greatly:
When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing, and stop fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in. Disengagement triggers shame and our greatest fears— the fears of being abandoned, unworthy, and unlovable. What can make this covert betrayal so much more dangerous than something like a lie or an affair is that we can’t point to the source of our pain—there’s no event, no obvious evidence of brokenness.[iv]
Every person who knows the genuine satisfaction of being connected to another person in a loving relationship (the best example of this is marriage) also knows the work of guarding that connection. There are a host of things that can erode that connection: work, sickness, depression, disappointment, or just the unpredictability of life. Healthy relationships stay healthy because they stay connected. That doesn’t happen by accident, but rather because two people choose to make it happen every day of their lives.
The wrong is not in the disconnection, but in the failure to work on it and put things right. When couples feel their relationship is stagnated and they don’t know what to do, then they need help and should seek help.
Several years ago while living in Argentina, I left my family for the evening to attend a service some twenty miles away. I drove across a bridge that spanned the Paraná River. When I returned, the bridge was closed, and I couldn’t get home. Though I was only a little over a mile away and could actually see my neighborhood, I was cut off from my family.
I walked to a little fishing village up stream and inquired if there were any fisherman who had an available boat to take me across. It took a while, but I finally found someone. The mayonero, as they are called, had certainly had one too many drinks, so I was a little apprehensive as to whether or not he would really get me across. As we were making our way across the mammoth river, I noticed a substantial amount of water getting in the boat. I asked the man, “Aren’t you worried about the water in the boat?” He replied, “No, it can handle twice that much before we sink.” The trip across the river seemed like it took forever, but we finally arrived on the other side, and I disembarked right in the middle of a beach party. I got the stares as I got out of the fishing boat wearing a suit and carrying a brief case, but it didn’t matter because I would be home in a few short minutes.
Maybe you find yourself cut off from your wife or husband or a son or daughter or other family member or friend today. For some unexpected reason the path to clear communication and friendship is closed. I encourage you to find a way to get across the barriers and restore the relationship. Your marriage, your son, your daughter, your parent or your friend is worth the sacrifice. Find out what has come between you and let them know you value the relationship. If you have done wrong, then by all means be quick to apologize and ask forgiveness. Life is simply too short to live another day without restoring the relationships that really matter in our lives. Let God intervene for you today; he will carry you across the divide and reunite you with your loved one. God will help you reconnect if you are willing to ask for his help. Whatever it takes find a way to get across the barriers and reconnect with your family. Go home today!
[i] Freeman, Gregory A. (2008-09-02). The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II (Kindle Locations 3809-3810). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[ii] Karyn Purvis, David Cross, & Wendy Lyons Sunsine, The Connected Child, New York: McGraw Hill, 2007, p. 26.
[iv] Brown, Brene (2012-09-11). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (pp. 51-52). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.