Inside the deepest part of our humanity lies a profound longing to live in genuine connection with people who understand, accept, and embrace who we are with loving approval. This reality is true because, as humans, we are fundamentally wired to live in community and relationships with others.
We’re not meant to live life alone, nor should we.
The very core of our DNA requires us to live in the context of a community for our lives to thrive with vitality and strength, and conversely, isolation destroys us.
Unfortunately, isolation is dominating our culture more and more because we are individualizing everything to the expense of voiding (and avoiding) true community.
We’ve created our own culture, that is an anti-culture.
We live a secluded existence in our own rooms with our own music and our own devices that display the shows we personally want to watch on our own terms. We live in the most connected time in history, yet we’re experiencing more and more loneliness than ever before.
The Lonely Age of Social Media
Our digital age has complicated our issue further by creating a space for false community, and we’re living it in more and more- the space of social media. This epidemic is creating the profound disillusionment of giving us a feeling of connection with people that we don’t even talk to and people we don’t even see in person.
We see pictures of others on social media, and it makes us feel like we’re keeping up with them, as if we’re living life with them.
At the end of the day, this is most assuredly a false community. It breathes no life into us, and it puts us in the space of comparing our lives with others and kills our joy. Authentic relationships can’t exist online.
We Need to Face-To-Face Interaction
This “in-person” aspect of our relationships is critical because the more we lose it, the more we deteriorate inside. Think of a child that isn’t loved, touched, kissed, hugged, or talked to by his or her parents. The child becomes cold and lifeless.
Another striking example is solitary confinement. Is it not used as an abnormally cruel punishment for defiant prisoners? Solitary confinement drives us crazy. We physically need others around us because the sting of loneliness can be debilitatingly painful.
But why is it so painful?
The reason isolation and loneliness are so painful is because we are fundamentally created to live in connection and relationship with others. When these connections are severed, we experience a break in our essential nature. Severed relationships are painful, physically painful.
I remember a time when I had a very long relationship that ended, and I remember comparing it to a shotgun to my chest. I was lonely. I was experiencing the brokenness of my humanity, fundamentally.
We Were Created by a Community for Community
Being created to live in community, however, is an aspect of our humanity that comes from being made in God’s Image. God exists in one essence, but in three Persons. So, this means that God is an eternal fellowship of community, and existing within is the Father, Son, and Spirit.
We function at our highest capacity when we live in community because His image has been imposed on the essential nature of our humanity, and we are at our lowest when we live in isolation. Think of it this way: Our happiest, most joyful, and brightest memories, no doubt, are the events that happen with others.
We thrive in communal activities (especially with family we love), while solitary confinement and isolation destroy us. It’s not healthy for anyone to be alone.
We Value Independence, but It Breaks Us
Unfortunately, and most commonly, we tend to reason that we don’t need anyone. But this is denial, and the truth is that we need to experience life-giving relationships with others. We separate ourselves from God and others by virtue of sin.
So, the dual effect of sin is that it separates us from the life-giving Source that we need to function, and it separates us from the relationships we need to live healthy lives.
Yet, There Is Hope in Our Loneliness
God bids us urgently and passionately to enter into a life-giving relationship with Him, and this is where we must start for healing, reparation, and redemption to begin. God was not satisfied by knowing us at a distance, but instead entered into our humanity, clothing Himself in flesh in the person of Jesus so that we could relate and identify with Him perfectly, and so that we could know Him intimately.
Jesus understands the sting of loneliness because He voluntarily chose it to fulfill the will of God, and He did it on our behalf.
Jesus’s family denied him. One of his best friends, Judas, betrayed him to kill him. The night before he was crucified, his friends failed him, and at the moment he was arrested and sentenced to go to the cross, all of his friends abandoned him. At the point of being crucified, he cried out, “My God My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus’ eternal relationship with His Father was broken. In this, Jesus tasted loneliness in the highest capacity so that we would never experience it. He welcomed loneliness so that we would not have to be lonely.
In Christ, God understands the cold sting of our loneliness and calls us into a warm and embracing, life-giving relationship with Him. In this, we replace our loneliness with the most significant relationship that we could have, a relationship with the very One who crafted our DNA and gave us life.
We are made to live in connection with God because, again, we are made in His image. The more we live in relationship with God, the more we become human. We obtain life this way. Conversely, we receive death apart from Him.
Isolation doesn’t have to be our reality, and the sting of loneliness can fade forever because God has made a better way- His name is Jesus.