Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? Though one may become overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV).
As I continue my series on Divine self-care—soul-care—I want to talk to you today about connection. This starts with a relationship with God. I encourage you to talk to God daily and spend time in His Word. This will deepen the connection you have with your Heavenly Father who created you and desires a relationship with you. Ask Him to guide you to safe people in your life with whom you can connect and develop relationships. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.” Friends are crucial if we want to experience life to the fullest.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown states, “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives our lives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” It never fails to amaze me how the research of so many secular authors, scientists, and other experts so perfectly aligns with what we are taught in the Bible, even if they choose to ignore, or neglect to mention, that key element.
The Opposite of Addiction
In talking about his experience writing the book, Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari shares, “One of the main things I realized is that the best journeys in life aren’t where you find yourself—they’re where you find other people.” His work is based on fascinating research. I highly recommend Hari’s Ted Talk titled, Everything You Know About Addiction Is Wrong, where he shares the now popular adage, “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety—it’s connection.” While his talk is about addiction, it applies to us all.
In Hari’s Ted Talk, he states, “Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now, that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature. That’s what we want as human beings.”
While Hari lists addictions that may not apply to you, I bet if you think about it, you can come up with behaviors that have become compulsive for you. Maybe it’s social media, watching TV, food, or video games. Maybe that evening glass of wine is gradually becoming closer to an evening bottle of wine. Anything good, or simply acceptable, can become unhealthy when done in excess. Don’t beat yourself up or shame yourself for compulsive behaviors. Start by focusing less on what you shouldn’t be doing and instead on adding healthier behaviors that involve connecting with others.
(See “50 Things to Do Instead of Watching Porn.”)
Hungry for Love
Dr. Robert Heckerdorn, an associate professor at the University of Idaho, speaks profound and heartbreaking truth when he says, “When the soul within you is drowning, starving, ignored, and unkempt, everything you do on the outside is futile.” You can’t control what others do, but you can choose not to ignore your soul. If those closest to you are starving you of affection and intimacy, seek out those who will walk beside you with love and attentiveness.
Heckerdorn’s words remind me of what scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:2-3: “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” Our souls need to love and be loved. This happens when we create connection with others.
(See “The Importance of Accountability”)
Created for Community
God created us for community. He didn’t intend for us to do life alone. Even in the happiest of marriages, we can not expect our spouse to meet our every need. This will leave us feeling disappointed without exception and puts unrealistic pressure on the other. I’m saddened by how many clients of mine can’t name one close friend. It is too easy to get caught up in obligations and responsibilities and not take the time to make and nurture friendships.
I’ve been guilty of this myself. You may have seen those memes on social media that say something like, “True friends can go years without talking and pick up where they left off”. In reality, if you aren’t communicating with a friend on a regular basis, you might not really be friends. At best, you are probably acquaintances. Regardless, those relationships certainly aren’t meeting your connection needs.
Good friends can be hard to find. I encourage you to pray for God to lead you to wise, non-judgmental, and trustworthy same-sex friends who will walk alongside you through thick and thin. A good friendship takes time to build, but it is so worth it! A great place to start is to join a church if you don’t have one, and then join a bible study or community group (sometimes called life groups or small groups) at your church.
Support groups are also a good place to meet people who get what you are going through and who are also looking for something deeper. And, they are where healing takes place. As you listen, share, offer, and receive encouragement from these people, lifelong bonds will often develop.
Check my website frequently to learn about upcoming support groups here.