If there is one thing that we hate in this culture, it is the loss of connection. Put a mellinial in a house with limited reception and they will climb the roof, wander the yard, search the entire space and eventually perch on any square foot that affords them service. I know this, because this is me.
Many of us live with a constant tension in our gut caused by FOMO. “What if I miss that party, that text, that picture, that breaking news or that event and what if by missing it, I miss the connections it would have provided?!” And if we get really deep, we might even ask “What if I am forgotten?”
For this connection-addicted generation, the thought of being forgotten by people, having no one to text or call, no one to spend time with on a Friday night or no invites to choose from, would leave us feeling irrelevant, disconnected and God forbid…lonely.
So we arrange and rearrange our lives to maximize our contact with….EVERYTHING. We put priority on a vibrant social life and a dependable friend group. We seek to fill our time with the things that make us feel important and eliminate the moments of wondering what the heck is going on. Our choices are not weighed by wisdom, maturity or strength but by how well received they will be, how many likes they will get, how many people will notice and how thoroughly they will muffle the ache in our hearts. We MUST stay connected!
But what I would like to lay before you is an idea that is not new, but rather is so ancient, that it has been forgotten. It goes as far back as time, it spans the life of Jesus, and it follows all my heroes. Pick anyone that you have a deep and intense respect for and I’ll wager that this truth can be seen in their lives.
It’s simple and doesn’t sound profound, but here it is- Engaging fully in each moment will cost you something.
And to get really “twenty first century”, it could cost you invites and texts and messages and calls & photo ops and parties and being in the know all the time. You have to be willing to be disconnected sometimes. Because I can make you a guarantee- If you make good choices, choices that promote sustainable health instead of instant gratification, you will end up losing some circles & some connections will be severed. It will cost you something.
I’m sorry if that was not what you were hoping to hear, but it is a truth that we had better listen to if we want to actually become mature instead of just appearing mature to everyone.
If we want our existence to actually make a difference and our voices & lives to actually carry substance and our hearts to actually be fully alive, we’re going to have be willing to let some stuff go.
I’m talking about lifestyle changes, I’m talking about giving up kind-of important things to pursue the most important things. I’m talking about making choices that can sometimes strip away what this society values and what makes us feel instantly valuable, in order to live a life that counts and cultivate relationships that are healthy.
So here is what I’m going to do, I’m going to get really practical and really personal. And if it makes you uncomfortable…well then I think I did my job. 🙂 It’s a list of only 3 things, not because they are the only ones that matter but because they are the ones on my mind. You ready?
1- YOU CAN SAY NO:
Sometimes we spread ourselves so incredibly thin that we are no longer FULLY anywhere. Like butter spread over too much bread as Bilbo once said.
So there are going to be times when the best thing we could do for everyone involved is to say no…sometimes without any excuse. We don’t have to have had a previous engagement, or some epic plans to condone our decline of an invite. Sometimes it is okay to just decline. Maybe the family needs you, maybe something totally not epic is being placed in your path, maybe a neighbor needs help, maybe your soul is empty and you need to pray. Maybe you need to be alone.
Yeah, ALONE! I know that is a scary word. And I know you’ve been lonely before and frantically searched for someone to hang out with or something to do- Made plans that really had no purpose or joy for you but you just didn’t want to feel the soul deep ache? That is also a good time to say no. Stay the heck away from the party and wrestle with that loneliness. Seek a meaningful conversation about it instead of numbing it. I have found that God so often meets us there.
Yes, if you are the person who declines too many times, you may be the person who doesn’t make the invite list next time. Are you willing to risk that for life’s sake?! Are you willing to let go of a “quick fix” if it means giving yourself time to find the cure?
2-YOU CAN DISCONNECT:
Maybe it is just me, but I have worried many times that I would miss out on people’s lives if I stepped away from social media. Or how would I get my thoughts out there? How would I change the world? You can’t just walk away!!!
But actually you can. I’m not saying that you have to. Lord knows that forms of social media have been an amazing outlet for me and many others. But I think that we all know when it has crossed over into an addiction and a codependent relationship that is sucking us dry.
And no matter how many people you are touching, if your soul is shriveling up, you’re not going to last long. “What does it pofit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?!”
People will be okay. Some may forget about you if your pics and thoughts stop appearing in their feed, but is that really such a big deal? You need to be where you are being called to be. If that is sitting at your laptop sharing your heart, great. But if it’s not, don’t worry. Things will be okay if you step away.
And have you ever been afraid to not reply to a text or call or to turn your phone off? Did you ever feel like you were God, and you had to be available to whoever, whenever? Y’all, we are NOT God and we are not omnipresent! We have to be wise and discerning about where we direct and invest our time.
It’s not enough to jump at the greatest need or pressure or most epic moment. This mentality would keep us from ever loving those in front of us because someone behind them was more urgent. I believe that we have to constantly be asking God for wisdom and direction. And sometimes we have to look at the person in front of us and trust God with the person behind them.
3- YOU CAN SHARE TRUTH-
This is a tough one, because it goes totally against what we see as successful results. Sometimes the more honest you get, the less people like it. And you can almost visually see some connections dissolving in front of you. There are times when the VERY best things you can do, will give you the very worst immediate results.
Consider a Father telling his daughter she can’t go to a party that he knows is not safe. Consider a friend confronting his buddy because he sees him edging towards an affair. Consider sharing what you truly believe at school, at work, at home. Consider being on the outside.
Not everyone will hate you, a lot of people will value truth spoken in love. But a lot won’t. And if our goal is to keep our friends happy, we should just smother our Spirit and rip our tongues out now.
Should I go on? This is longer than I planned and a lot more “toe steppy”. But let me close with sharing from my heart.
I am a pro at putting up a good image, I thrive on leaving a good impression on as many people as possible. I want to change the world and I want make an impact. But what cut me off at the knees recently was realizing that the condition of my soul leaves more of an impact than my words or my sphere of influence ever could. I can be over here building my audience and promoting my brand…and all the while my character and genuine love for the people in my life is becoming emaciated.
Jesus spent 30 years growing in stature and wisdom far away from the public eye. Then when he finally entered into the limelight, he drew crowds, only to send them away by preaching something uncomfortable. He multiplied his friend group by the thousands and then watched them turn and run.
If our goal in life is to get a following and to keep it, this will drive us to compromise & social slavery. If our greatest accomplishment is that “people loved us”, will we ever question whether we actually and really loved them?
I know I didn’t give you all an easy answer here. There isn’t one. My hope is simply that it will challenge you to question your choices and lay open your life. To reevaluate and realign and consider making some crazy choices that will hurt for a moment but will lead to health in the future.
That is what I recently asked myself- Is this the type of life I want to live forever? Is this the depth of relationships I want forever? Is this the life God has called me to? And if not, why am I living it now? Why am I trying to hold up an image and places of distraction that actually hold me back from my deepest dreams and truest calling?
So I hope you’ll join me in making some radical choices to make space for radical change. Make the space and ask God how He would have you fill it. It is not enough to just cut things out or take big leaps if there is no vision in it. If we let go of something, it is always to take hold of something better. So ask God what is better. It may not be epic, it may be really unimpressive but wise.
I trust Him to lead you. This is all I have to say. He’s got ya .