Different personality types will have differing degrees of difficulty with the current situation. Introverts may have an easier time, while extroverts struggle. It is also most certainly true that God created us to have relationships. We were not created to be an island to ourselves. While people can cause a lot of struggle/drama in life, through their broken ways of relating to one another, relationships are intended by God to strengthen us.
While I may write about all that at a later date, I want to share some initial thoughts about this ‘struggle’ that is being talked so much about on television, Facebook and other social media formats. It may be that we have become so accustomed to going, doing, and feeding on social feedback that it has become a hindrance to us (and we don’t even realize it). This sudden shutdown of personal activity, may be exposing more than financial cracks in the system. It is likely exposing some addiction to a busyness, that may not be truly relational at all.
We live our lives at high rates of speed, every day. Not only are we often in perpetual motion, we are now in motion with an electronic device in our hands. I would argue that much of what we do everyday is not truly relational. Interaction is not necessarily relational in its healthiest sense. Sitting in a meeting does not mean I have really connected with another person. Proximity is not necessarily equal with the definition of relationship. And 'social distancing' does not necessarily cause problems for authentic meaningful relationships.
Relationship could be defined on a continuum. If I ride the subway with the same set of people every day, I do have a certain relationship to them. But it might be better said that we all have a relationship with the subway, and that just happens to bring us together. If I attend a worship service or small group, that does not necessarily mean I have a relationship with the others in attendance. We all have a relationship with the home-study or church, but that doesn’t mean we are necessarily connecting with one another. Maybe we are. Maybe we are not.
Human relationship, of the meaningful type, is the connection of the soul, one to the other. It engages the mind and heart in a way that meaning flows from the interaction. Our thinking, emotions and behavior are affected. The great thing about meaningful relationships is that time and distance doesn’t hinder them. I have relationships in my life that have been going on for many years now. When we see each other (or talk on the phone) it picks up like there was never distance, just as when we last met or talked. Those relationships hold meaning for them and myself.
I genuinely believe that what a sudden and abrupt lifestyle change exposes, such as the one we are currently experiencing, is that we have more addiction to busyness and activity than we would like to admit. Anyone who has attempted to pray in a way that requires the soul to become quiet, knows the difficulty that creates. The mind wants to wander, the activities of the day try to crowd in, and a general sense of anxiety can even rise up. Meditative prayer (focused on Jesus and an interaction with Him) is supposed to produce peace, but any honest person who has gone from not praying this way, to attempting to praying this way, knows that the soul can feel soooooo unanchored. I know this because I have personally experienced that very battle.
I believe that what many people are actually feeling right now is an unanchored soul. And in one way, that is a good thing, not bad. It gives us vital feedback regarding the direction our life has been headed, and without the current situation we might have gone our whole life without recognizing it. COVID-19 is a bad thing. It is an awful thing. However, God is always at work, using even something inherently bad to produce a good end.
We like to quote the verse, “Be still and know that I am God” and we say we want to know God more deeply, more intimately. Here’s our chance. But it does require being still.
If we are to engage the truly, genuine and meaningful relationships our hearts desire, we will need to cultivate that with God first. We were made to be reservoirs of the LIFE we have with Him … extending and releasing it into the lives of others. This is what makes relationships life-giving and authentically meaningful. Activity and busyness can rob us of both meaning and LIFE. Then we become a dried up channel, because the reservoir is empty.
We have a unique opportunity in history right now. Let’s redeem this time by first becoming still and knowing our Redeemer more deeply. Let’s face our unanchored soul and invite the LIFE of Jesus into it. He is able to bring us to rest and fill us with peace if we will sit down and take the time to ask of Him, and to listen. Knowing God and being still takes time, of which we have some extra right now.