Want to know how to piss off a Millennial? Put them in a poor connection zone where they have to wait over seven seconds for their Instagram to load. Or inform them that their Door Dash guy got stuck at an extra red light. Or that their Amazon Prime order is actually going to take two days to arrive instead of one.
We live in a world where connection is never far from reach. If you want it now, you can pretty much have it now. (Also no offense to millennials, I am one.)
Not sure how to get someplace? Ask Siri to pull up Google Maps and you’ll have directions provided to you in three different routes within a few seconds. Gone are the days of MapQuest and having to physically print out directions before you went anywhere outside your normal routine. (May all of those wasted trees rest in peace.)
Need groceries in your fridge in order to eat dinner tonight, but don’t want nor have time to go to the store? Order them from WholeFoods on Amazon and ta-da! They will appear within 2 hours on your doorstep. It’s truly magical.
Want to know a super random fact like: do stingrays give birth or lay eggs? Google it! (If you saw my Google search history you may have second thoughts about my normalcy.) Stingrays do not lay eggs, by the way. In fact, they give live birth to litters of anywhere from 5 to 13 babies. Also, in case you were wondering, a baby stingray is one of the cutest things ever.
The point is, we are more connected than ever, yet somehow we feel more disconnected than ever.
According to the National Network of Depression Centers, $210.5 Billion dollars equates to the lost earnings per year due to serious mental illness. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for people ages 15-44 and suicide is the second leading cause of death. In fact, there is one death by suicide every twelve minutes in the US.
Twelve minutes. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s 120 people per day. 43,800 people per year.
Why is this?
I obviously don’t have the answer to this question, but I can say that in my experience I’ve noticed something: many people just feel alone.
You can be standing in a crowded room, yet feel like you are completely invisible.
Does anyone really see me? Does anyone really notice me?
You can have a million social media followers, but still don’t even feel like you have a handful of close friends that truly have your back. 435 likes and 78 comments, but do you ever have a conversation with those people in real life? Is there any true connection that exists outside of what lies behind formulated pixels on a screen?
So many people lack true community. True connection. Face to face conversations. Someone to ugly cry with, someone to laugh so hard your face hurts with, someone you can call when you’re scared and they will encourage you and love on you and not make you feel silly. Someone to be totally 100% raw and real with.
I personally do not believe there is a deeper sadness or feeling of dis-connectedness other than what comes from feeling truly alone. This can be a result of many situational factors: loss (person, career, thwarted expectations), feeling misunderstood, feeling emotionally as if you’re the only one who feels the way you do, lack of resources, minimal or lack of time, etc.
Regardless of why it’s presenting, the feeling of isolation is almost unbearable.
So what do we do? How do we stop feeling so alone?
This, along with world hunger and Donald Trump’s hair swoop, is obviously something that cannot be solved overnight. But what if we started by taking baby steps towards connection?
Connection begins when guards are let down.
It is quite literally impossible to connect with another human being if:
-You don’t put yourself out there. Listen, I know it’s hard. You don’t want to go to that growth group your co-worker has been begging you to join for months. You don’t want to go to the local singles meet up at your church. You don’t want to attend any work related events or neighborhood get togethers or attend group fitness classes. You’d rather Netflix and chill with your cat while wearing Christmas socks and a Snuggie. I get it. But too bad- do it anyways. Just show up. Be brave. And keep showing up.
-You aren’t vulnerable. In order to foster true connection and intimacy with another human being, you have to be vulnerable. It is imperative that you are honest with yourself and honest with others. Do you know how to verbalize the way you’re feeling? If this is hard for you, you may benefit from the practice of journaling. In a journal you can be as real as you want and no one is going to yell at you. Burn the pages when you’re done if that makes you feel better about it. Once you get used to journaling and verbalizing your feelings and thoughts to yourself, you can then start practicing doing so with others.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to just spill all your guts to your grocery bagger tomorrow when you’re picking up milk. But do choose a person that you feel is safe (non judgmental, affirming) and practice vulnerability. What happens in return may just shock you, as vulnerability from that person is most likely what you’ll receive.
The definition of intimacy is to know and be known. We were designed for it. It is etched into every ounce of our DNA. God never intended for us to do life by ourselves. From the very beginning he has modeled what community looks like, starting within the Trinity itself. He desires us to be in relationship with others, and most importantly in relationship with him.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5
And the best news ever? He will never leave us. You are literally never alone. Nor could you be alone if you tried.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.
Sister, please know you are not the only one who feels this way. Help is never too far from reach. You, despite the way you may feel, are loved.
Please stop hiding behind the falsities that give off the appearance of connection. Put yourself out there. Pick up the phone. Show up. Reach out.
Don’t do this life alone.
And remember: you are worthy. Just the way you are.