Recently I was listening to a short video by Brene Brown on Empathy. In this video she explains that the only thing that makes another person feel any better about their current situation is connectedness. It is not about the words that a friend necessarily chooses to use or not use. I mean there are certainly things that we should avoid using but it is the connection that actually makes the difference. I have experienced this, I’m sure most have – when someone is trying to make you feel better, but they end up making you feel worse. I have also regretfully done this to others.
COVID-19 has provided a rather remarkable opportunity for connectedness to take place, especially when many have been isolated and lonely. I have driven past supermarkets with signs out the front saying, “We are in this together.” A simple, yet poignant reminder that you are not alone. For the first time in perhaps the longest time we are facing a global pandemic isolated, yet together. And through it I have witnessed strength and resilience activated in many that has amazed me.
You see we were never supposed to do life alone. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, Jesus constantly befriended those that others wanted nothing to do with. I mean Jesus calls us friends and invites us to be in relationship with Him.
John chapter 15, verses 12-15:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.”
Created for connection
For the past couple of years my husband has been saying to our local leadership team that our hope is that relationships would go deeper and further. This evolved into a much larger discussion but essentially what he was saying is that we want people to be more connected at a greater level. It is not good enough to have surface level friendships. It is not good enough to have transactional relationships, we are not to treat people as if they are a means to an end.
We were created, designed for relationship. God created us to be in relationship with Him. The Bible then instructs us to love one another as He has loved us.
Isolated yet connected
We can still be physically isolated yet connected to God and others. The greatest plight of humanity is to be known by your Creator and to know Him, the next is to discover your purpose. It is no surprise that the enemy intends to separate us from God and one another with feelings of shame, guilt, offense. If being connected is so good for us, then no wonder the opposite to connectedness is isolation. And it is a known fact that isolation can more easily lead to depression, difficulties sleeping, anxiety, substance abuse, sexual addiction and the list goes on.
There are many people that experience isolation and physical separation from others on a daily basis due to impairments and/or physical restraints. COVID-19 has not changed all that much for them. Perhaps we could actually learn a thing or two from them at this time.
But what could we change or what could we do differently in moving forward to place greater value on humanity once again? And help to lift this burden from people? What would it take for us to be more interconnected with others? What have we learnt in this season that we would implement in the next?
It is up to us –‘we’ are in this together. Let’s never underestimate or take for granted the part that we each play.
Elise Pappas is a Pastor and together with her husband pastor a church on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Sophie. Elise is a former clinical drug trial research coordinator and business owner. She writes about life and ministry experiences.