Life is about connection

ConnectedI was reading a great post this morning by Darrell Creswell, “Jesus and Grandpa Knew – It’s a Small World After All.” He was talking about the lasting impact his grandpa had made, even though he hadn’t travelled much outside the county of his birth. And also how Jesus never travelled more than 90 miles from His home, yet changed the world forever.

Something resonated deep in my heart. It was about connection.

And it got me thinking about how disconnected I feel sometimes. Especially, when I miss loved ones who are far away. Friends that I used to hang out with, share life with, who are now living that life somewhere else.

With all our social networking and the world literally at our fingertips, why are we growing more disconnected? And if the world is getting smaller, why do we seem farther away from each other?

Did the generation of our grandparents understand something we don’t? They didn’t travel like we do, have the technology we have, but they seemed to know how to connect every part of their lives together–the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I don’t mean the Facebook kind of connection, but the face to face, front porch, back yard, sitting around the kitchen table kind of connection.

Maybe social networking is so popular because we’re reaching out for something that’s haunting our souls, something we long for but can never seem to find?

Not that that there’s anything inherently wrong with our digital community. In many ways it’s wonderful. It’s just that it can never satisfy this disconnect deep within our souls.

According to various studies, about 95 percent of communication is non-verbal. So, how do I really communicate at a deep level with you with just words?

Even God didn’t just leave us with words. No, the greater part of our relationship with God is in the fact that He came to live inside of us, at the innermost part of who we are. You can’t get any more connected than that!

Life is about connection.

We have life with God when our human spirit is connected with His Spirit at salvation.

Conversely, the word, “death” means “separation.” As James points out (2:26), our physical death is when our spirit disconnects from our body. Spiritual death is when we are disconnected from God’s Spirit.

C.S. Lewis, in his profoundly insightful work, “The Great Divorce,” describes a place where people are living in their own infinitely expanding suburbs because they just can’t get along with each other. They are left to drift endlessly apart, forever busy with their own agendas. And, as Lewis points out, they prefer it that way.

Of course, he was describing hell.

And it sounds eerily like this Matrix-like construct we’re living in today. Everywhere you look, people are systematically growing more relationally distant.

With all of our social networking, advancing technology, forever busy with our own agendas,  are we becoming relationally “dead?” Creating our own relational “hell,” if you will?

Oh yeah, we still talk a lot. But it’s mostly superficial, information-level communication, held together by our affinities. In churches, it’s in our doctrinal agreement. It’s the “as long as you meet my needs we will stay together” kind of connections.

We are more alone together than ever.

We seem to have given up on the deeper, more intimate aspects of communication that requires trust, honest vulnerability, mutual respect, honor and devotion to one another, no matter the personal cost.

Because relational life is about heart connection. And the deepest and most fulfilling kind is intimacy, which requires living life from love instead of our fears and insecurities.

The reality is, families are becoming more relationally distant and foundations built over generations are crumbling because of divorce, unresolved relational issues and other interests.

And sadly, because of this relational disconnect, there is whole generation growing up now who have never known the transcendent wonder of being brought into something much bigger than themselves, which is the heritage of multi-generational families living life together.

When we describe a life where everybody is just looking out for themselves without any awareness or care for others, or about what has gone before them or what will happen after them, we are describing living like orphans, not a family.

Hey, if I don’t like what you’re saying to me in my digital world of relationships, I can just disconnect from you with the click of a button or a touch on my screen. Or I will go to a different church. Move to a different town. You are out of my life.

Problem solved?

The problem is, every broken connection takes a piece of us with it.

But here’s what I’m getting at. If you have family living with you, near you, invite them over, hug them, tell them how much you love them. Waste your time with them.

But many of us find ourselves living in some state of disconnect, from broken relationships, or maybe those we love are just far away from us now. That’s just a fact of the world we live in. So what can we do?

To quote the famous philosopher from the 60’s, Stephen Stills, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with!” (Except, I mean relationally here, not sexually).

This holiday season, make your world smaller. Invite some people over to your house or apartment, throw a party, join a group, get to know some acquaintances better. But do it in person. Be a friend, a neighbor. Yeah, turn off your digital socializer and actually spend time talking to someone face to face. You might like it! And it will do a lot for your soul.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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20 Responses to Life is about connection

  1. Great post Mel – Great insight that one can take to heart – Blessings, Darrell

  2. Michael says:

    Oh, Mel, what a profoundly probing and meaningful post. It resonates with me. I’m the one in my family always hounding everyone, excitedly, with “Let’s talk!” They get annoyed and I get sad because they don’t get why it’s important. I interviewed my mom a few years back, which was so insightful a project; but she just couldn’t understand why I would want to know anything about her…why was it so important.

    ‘Living like orphans’ is a frightening concept to me, and society is increasingly evolving into this dysfunctional social setup. That paragraph is sobering on many levels and, again, frightening. You’ve witnessed how society has evolved over your life; now I’m watching the same thing happen as I grow out of young adulthood, and I wonder what will become of the world and traditional social structures. I fear for my generation and those coming behind me.

    I am guilty, too. I’ve easily disconnected with folk on Facebook. I’ll confess that the Lord has convicted me of this. Not for any animosity or difference or my rigid “if you’re a ‘friend’ you’re talking to me” frame of mind (ha), but rather because…how do you say it, there is connection between that person and me and should be deepening connection. Don’t slam the door shut; open it and keep it open. That’s the only way I can avail myself to someone who might need me.

    Thanks for a deeply thoughtful article. I hope I haven’t rambled!

    • melwild says:

      Thanks for your comments, Michael. Great ramble! No problem there. 🙂 And I totally relate to people we love not understanding deep and meaningful connections. I grew up that way. I knew nothing about meaningful relationships. And it reflected in my broken life. I had to learn this stuff from my wife and her family. Maureen and I are like the couple in the “By Big Fat Greek Wedding!” I came from a closed-up, quiet and broken home. She came from a very close, very loud, and very large Sicilian, Polish, Irish family from Chicago where everybody, and I mean, everybody…brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles…all hung out together, did things together, laughed together, etc. It was quite a shock to me, but this orphan-hearted young man loved it!

      But what I’ve learned is that a legacy of intimate relationships can start with us. Our kids grew up in a totally different experience than I did. I praise God for that. The good news is that it can start anytime we want. We can be the catalyst that helps others open up. It’s in the heart of everyone, no matter how it looks on the outside. So, keep being that person, Michael! Your family probably appreciates it more than they will admit. Let a wonderful future family heritage begin with you. 🙂

      Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

      • Michael says:

        Thanks, Mel. It’s kinda weird because what you describe of your wife’s family is sorta like mine. But whereas we always talk about how close we are, I challenge them by saying we’re not as close as we think we are and ought to be. There’s always more to be had in relationship, especially family.

        • melwild says:

          Yeah, our experience is what we think is normal, until God shows us a new “normal!” And this includes what we think is being “close.” You can help create a new more intimate normal. Just keep loving them and being you, it will rub off. 🙂

          Btw, your “Thanks” series on your blog this week has been great. I have been enjoying your guest writers. Thanks again for including me too. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving .

      • Michael says:

        You’re very encouraging, Mel. Thanks. I’ve enjoyed the writer’s, too, and I’m very happy (and thankful) you could be part of it. Have a fun and wonderfully meaningful day tomorrow.

  3. Heidi Viars says:

    Great and timely reminder, Mel!!!

  4. On Monday nights, we have friends over for home church. We sing, have Bible study, interact, strengthen, encourage, and pray for one another. We connect.

    This same group shows up on Friday night for a potluck and Hand and Foot (a card game). I’m not exactly sure why we do this, for everyone sits at the table – playing games, carrying on conversations, or reading e-mail on their phones! Aside from the shared food and the need for their physical presence to move the cards, it seems we could do the rest from our own homes. IT MAKES ME CRAZY! I want to stay home on that night…and it’s my house. 😉

    I sure hope we don’t have iPhones in Heaven.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    \o/

    • melwild says:

      LOL! Maybe, have everyone check their iPhones at the door when they come. Have a night where everyone “fasts” from their phones. Of course, have a prayer and deliverance team ready! 🙂

      It’s true, people are so addicted to their phones. It’s sad when we’re shopping in a mall and see a mom on her phone, totally oblivious to the beautiful baby she is strolling. Men are just as bad.

      You have a blessed Thanksgiving yourself, and may you have many meaningful face-to-face conversations with family and friends. 🙂

  5. Such a great post Mel! It reminded me of a Ted Talk I watched recently on how we are connected, but alone (link is below). God knew the importance of community and relationships which is why when the first church began He instructed them to meet often and share life together. Nowadays we are good at sharing what is going on in our life through social media, but not really sharing our life itself with others.

    It’s so important to build connections with people outside of social media because that’s where real relationship and intimacy takes place. Without it we really will end up being very connected but even more so alone.

    Thank you for this post. May it be a reminder to all of us to invest some one-on-one time with the people in our lives. Be blessed!

    Links:

    http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-illustrated-so-beautifully-you-will-need-to-tell-someone?c=ufb1

    • melwild says:

      Thanks for these insights, Anna. So true about our being good at sharing what’s going on in our life but not at sharing our life. That observation says it all! Thanks for the links too. I will check them out. Blessings to you too.

  6. Cindy Powell says:

    Thanks so much for this. This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I have much to say about it (I’ve even considered writing a book on the topic some day) but I’ll keep it short for now 🙂 I actually just finished writing a post (haven’t published it yet) that deals with some of the fallout that a lack of connection brings–especially around the holidays. The problem is so deeply rooted throughout our culture that there will need to be some major shifts if we ever want to address the real heart of the issue, but I am always grateful for voices encouraging people to connect in meaningful ways. Thanks for doing that. I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed and filled with great times of connection!

    • melwild says:

      Sounds good. I look forward to reading your post…and future book. 🙂

      You have a blessed Thanksgiving too. We are off travelling today to do some face-to-face connecting so won’t be digitally socializing until later tomorrow probably.

      • Cindy Powell says:

        Ha, ha–well the book may be a ways off (maybe quite a ways!). Even in the post I just wrote the Holy Spirit ended up leading me in a little different direction than I thought I was going. Guess I’ll have to save my soap box for another day 🙂

        Hope you had a great “connected” day!

  7. Very good post. I think for me developing meaningful relationships with others came out of a direct result of having a deeper relationship with God. I know that that probably sounded very cliche, but it is truly what happened. I really struggled to develop friendships for many years, in fact by the time I was really ill I had pretty much lost the majority of my friends. I think my being mentally ill made it really hard for others to befriend me. During my time of healing, God removed a lot of things that were inhibiting my relationship with Him. I think the direct result of God doing that was that I was better able to be friendly and caring toward others. I have an incredible relationship with God today and I also have some incredible, geniuine relationships with other people.

    • melwild says:

      It may sound cliché but it’s still the truest thing about relationships. That’s why you have profound things to say about intimacy, vulnerability and healing on your blog. 🙂 You have learned it directly from the One who is love and intimacy and connection. That’s why we are to love God first, then others as we find ourselves loved in Him.

      And this is true for everyone, regardless of their mental state. We all need healing in our soul in various degrees. I didn’t really know love until I found it in God. My relationships were superficial until my relationship with God became vulnerable and deep. So, it is true what John says about it, We love because He first loved us. Blessings.

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