It is 2021 and we are already four months into the new year. As much as I would like to say things are looking up, at times I still feel stuck in neutral. I feel locked down and under immense pressure, not from work or family, as those do present their own levels of pressure…no…it is from the desire to connect or reconnect.
You see, we are social creatures by design and we need interaction for a number of things to help guide us through our day and our life. When I heard the term “social distancing”, it sounded more like a 1980s punk rock band versus a means to keep people safe. Yet, here we are having to put on our masks and distance as far as we can to persevere. When I think about what we have all endured up to this point, it brings to mind James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I love his positive outlook in this scripture and it is so true, but how was I supposed to know that in 2020, I was going to go through what seemed like a lifetime of perseverance in one year? I’ll be honest, 2020 was a struggle, but it was not as bad as it could have been or at least was for others. I am extremely grateful for God’s grace and protection and thank him for all the good things he brought forth and helped me realize during this trying time. After all, it is God who takes tragedy and turns it into good.
So like I do most times, I asked God what is causing me to be stuck, feel deflated, and at times depressed? I prayed, meditated a little, and sat back and listened this time. Usually, it takes me a while to listen and focus, but for some reason, the answer was there, right in front of me like a lightning flash in the sky. Connections and social engagement! God knows what we need and he knows how important it is for us to connect with our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or in my case, a stranger at the grocery store. The lesson or takeaway here is we need people and we need to be around people, new people…people we can connect with, share stories with, or just enjoy each other’s company or a cup of coffee.
Here is the hard part, people are not going to come to you…you are going to have to work to engage, reach out, establish, and re-establish those connections. Perhaps through a Zoom call or FaceTime, but talking to someone face-to-face adds a new level of enlightenment, joy, and satisfaction.
If there is one lesson I have learned from this strange and odd pandemic-ridden time, it’s the value of connections and the need to be intentional in reaching out. It does not matter if you are an extrovert or introvert, we all need to engage, share stories, and talk about our day.
So make it a point every day to connect with someone new. Send them a text, give someone a call, or on your next walk stop and say hi and chat with your neighbor. I think you will find, as much as I have, that the emotional and psychological impact of re-connecting has improved my mental well-being and has shifted me back into drive.
- James Oliver -