I heard this statement recently: We are living in the most connected time in the history of humankind, yet we live in a society where loneliness and depression prevail and deep relationships are few and far between. Wow. Sometimes unless you stop and think about it, this truth passes by without notice. We think we are truly connected because of Facebook, Twitter, email, or other types of social media. But are we really?
Cultivating a real, authentic relationship is tough. We are moving at an ever increasing pace, and the truth is, cultivating true relationships takes time. It takes an investment. We try to trick our brain into thinking that if we post happy birthday on someone’s wall (and at that, usually only because Facebook reminded us it was their birthday) or send them an email once in a blue moon that we are doing ok.
Here’s the kicker: We NEED community. We NEED a place to really be able to share the ups and downs of life. But that is very difficult to truly find online or on a social network.
Even more importantly, we who call ourselves Christ followers need to be cultivating friendships with people OUTSIDE our family or local church body so that we can be a witness to them for Jesus. Chances are, if they feel comfortable talking with us beyond a surface level, they’ll be more apt to listen to what we have to say about what God has done for us.
So what can we do to change this? Here are a few suggestions to get us started:
1. CALL someone on their birthday. Spend 5 minutes chatting with a friend instead of emailing, texting, or writing on Facebook. You never know how much deeper a friendship might go if you invest a few extra minutes instead of taking the easy way out.
2. INVITE that neighbor that you never talk to over for a cookout or meal. Yeah, it might be uncomfortable at first. But once you get over that initial awkwardness, chances are you will make a huge impact on them, if nothing less, because of your hospitality.
3. Don’t rely so much on social media to keep in contact with people. I know it is easy to just write on someone’s wall, like their post, or retweet something they said. But how about meeting for breakfast or even coffee to really talk about what is going on in their life? Many times (or most of the time) what is seen on said social media sites is not a true reflection of what is going on, and the only way to be a help to them is, get this, talk to them in person!
Hopefully we can all be more intentional about building real, authentic and lasting relationships that go beyond the surface. I know it takes time and energy. But in my experience, I also know it is totally worth it!