My friend, Christie Love, speaks straight to me today as she challenges me to be more intentional about making room in my life to not just BE with others, but to truly connect as well. I need connection. You need connection. Read on...
Craving to Connect
By Christie Love
Even when I'm with others, I feel alone sometimes.
I look around and realize that I have invested time in activities (even good ones, for ministry) but not necessarily relationships. And I hear from other women share this feeling as well. Mothers who invest more time into building friendships for their children than themselves. Business women who channel their energy into networking rather than making deep connections. Ministry leaders who pour into others without making time to allow other people to pour back into them.
Loneliness does not discriminate. I have had talked through this struggle with women of every demographic. I have listened to the laments of teenagers who feel overlooked and with grandmothers who feel forgotten.
Recently, I ran a short survey about the level of connection and community in the lives of women through my Facebook page. I asked four simple questions to 100 women between the ages of 18-75:
52% of women said that they were not satisfied with their current level of friendships and connection in their life and they struggle with loneliness on a regular basis.
75% said that they wished that they could spend more time with friends on a regular basis.
43% said that they number one factor that keeps them from spending time with other people is that they do not have enough time.
22% said that they struggled to trust other people enough to open up with them.
Connection is God's good plan for his children. Our hearts are wired to connect and our souls crave community.
In Genesis 2:18, after creating Adam, God proclaims, "It is not good for man to be alone." He then made Eve so that they could have relational community with one another. From the beginning of creation, humans were designed for relationship- with God and with others.
We are so good at planning things for others! We throw birthday parties and coordinate playdates for our kids. We set up meetings at work. We make arrangements for conferences and events at church. Yet, how often do we make our own community a priority? If we are honest, the answer is not as often as we should. Heather Zempel, Discipleship Pastor at National Community Church in Washington DC, writes her powerful book Community is Messy, "Don't be so busy facilitating community for everyone else that you fail to experience it for yourself."
For many of us, time for deep connection is often viewed as a luxury rather than a necessity. However, the desire to be known and in relationship is a basic human need.
I have personally come to deeply appreciate the role that my friends play in my life and leadership. My friends encourage me, pray for me, challenge me, hold me accountable, provide me with perspective, and force me to be honest about emotions that I am carrying. Time with them doesn't just entertain me, it strengthens me. Spending time experiencing community helps to make me a better wife, a better mother, a better leader, and a better Jesus follower. And when this community is lacking, I suffer the consequences.
Relationships require our regular intention and our effort. I'm pondering what steps I can take to strengthen my own community, what about you?
Christie Love is the Founder and Executive Director of LeadHer Ministry, an organization focused on challenging women to grow in their faith and leadership, while experiencing community through LeadHer Local Chapters. You can learn more about Christie and how to find or start a LeadHer Local chapter near you at www.leadher.org.