Today, reading in @stickyjesus, a particular phrase caught my eye:
“Connection is about joining and fastening things together. Relationship is about creating a sense of belonging.”
I paraphrased it for myself as the following: connection is about healing; relationship is about belonging. And even before I read it, that concept has been made incredibly real in my heart today.
Our culture is staggering in its place, dying for connection and relationship, healing and belonging. You can see it in everything we do collectively, be we believers or non-believers. You can see the desire for connection and relationship everywhere; from the church in which we gather to connect to people who are planted in the same dirty soil we are, to the social networking systems that join millions of people or more to share the tiniest aspects of everyday life, to the bar in which an alcoholic finds himself every night, not because he doesn’t have booze by the fifth in his own refrigerator, but because he doesn’t want to drink it alone.
We were not created to live this life alone. And we know it, deep down. And yet, we often find ourselves living like we were. Having been to several different countries on various mission trips and vacations, I come back to the States each time to be reawakened to the fact that we live in a form of isolation that we barely see. We exist around other people, but we’re rarely truly aware of a need for them, or their need for us. We forget often that people are more important than success or our well-planned schedules. The phrase “no man is an island” seems to be less relevant or true in America than any other place I’ve been. It seems as though many of us live as though we are indeed islands; wandering around in the middle of people, but rarely accountable for them or vulnerable to them or aware of anything much beyond their existence.
Today, I’ve been struck over and over by the havoc that this isolationist mentality has wrought on our generation. Because although we are together, we are often powerfully, painfully alone. We walk into public places, even our churches, and are greeted by people asking how we are, and on sheer instinct, we paste a smile on our faces and say, “Friend, if I were any more blessed, I’d sprout wings and fly straight on to Heaven.” Even though a parent is deathly ill; even though our marriages are in shambles; even though we work in jobs that suck the very life from us; even though we just spent our last dollar and have no idea where the next meal is coming from; even though we’re six weeks pregnant with a child whose father dropped off the grid somewhere around five weeks and six days ago; even though our son was just deployed to the front lines of a war in the Middle East; even though the people we love most have betrayed us; even though we wear long sleeves to cover up the bruises we’ve been given on one arm, and the self-inflicted cuts on the other; even though we’re not always sure God even exists anymore, let alone loving and protecting us…but we’re blessed. We’re just blessed.
And yes. We sure are. We’re blessed beyond measure, no matter what our circumstances dictate. But we’re also hurting, and we feel terribly, horribly alone in that. The deepest parts of us remain unseen, and to a being that was created to know and be known…that feels like death itself.
It’s time for us to listen to the cries of our culture; a culture that’s dying for healing and belonging. Sometimes they just don’t know how to say it. Many don’t know that the reason they feel so lonely is because they weren’t meant to be alone. They don’t know the story of a Creator who created them for Himself, who created them to be in relationship with Him and with the others He also created for Himself.
Maybe it’s time we start telling them. Even when it’s not said in clear English text, this generation is dying to hear that story, dying to hear there is a place to be healed and belong.