Saturday, December 13, 2014

Feeling Lonely? Why Connection is So Important

So it’s the holidays, a time when many people feel lonely. Alone. Disconnected.  

It’s “the most wonderful time of the year” or so the Christmas carol lyrics tell us. But in the months between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there seems to be a great emphasis on families and couples. And for those who are not coupled—or don’t have a family (or one they want to be around)—it can be the most difficult time of year.

The truth is that we live in society that is more disconnected than ever. The Internet has radically changed how we do ‘people connection.’ On one hand’s it’s a fantastic tool. From my living room in Colorado, I can email my Dad in Minnesota or Facebook with readers in Brazil.  

Love it! 

Other the other hand, technology can limit one’s face-to-face-interactions and in-person friendships because he or she chooses screen time over face time (and I don’t mean the Mac app, I mean talking with someone in person). On Facebook, for example, they may go wide (have a lot of ‘friends’) but not go deep (as in having meaningful relationships with good friends).  

Connecting is vital to our emotional health. Building friendships and living connected increases our joy. We were created to need each other and to serve each other’s needs.  

In fact, you can build connections in all different areas of life:

  • Spiritual community with people at church, or in a small group, Bible study, missions team, serving opportunity or one-on-one.
  • Social community through a shared hobby, a singles group, local theatre group or coffee with friends.
  • Intellectual community with people from work, a book group or other group with shared interests.
  • Physical community in joining a sports team, dance class or getting workout partner for the gym.
  • Neighborhood or city community can be built be showing up at your local playground, a neighborhood block party, or mentoring a disadvantaged youth.
  • Virtual community is a way to connect with others, but make sure it’s not your only connection with other people.
Of course, the first person to make a connection with is the most important one. Through prayer and our relationship with God we have the most primary and meaningful connection possible. Even when you don’t know what to say, the simple prayer of, "Help!" will reach the loving ears of God.  

To overcome loneliness, you may want to start by asking yourself why you feel lonely. Ask God to make His presence real and close to you today. Ask Him to help you have hope things really can change in your life.  

You can also ask God to give you courage to reach out to another person today or to bring caring relationships—like friends, family, or other new people into your life.  

Lastly, ask what is one thing you can do today to build a bridge to another person? Those ideas may help you get started as you pray about overcoming loneliness and learning to live better connected.  

Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When you know God, you are never alone.  

Lord, I feel so empty and alone. I know I’ve been isolated and need contact with other people, but sometimes it’s hard to change. Will you help me learn how to build bridges to other people? What a comfort it is to know that You are always with me, and that You never leave. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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