The Risk of Community

I read a story recently about a man in his 20s who set up a personal experiment. He decided to go a whole week without any human contact. This obviously meant no face to face contact but it also meant no social media, no texting, no emails, nothing. Zero interaction of any kind. He even stayed in his home to ensure he could avoid all contact with people. As an introvert, he wasn’t terribly concerned about the experiment. He thought it might be refreshing to disconnect from everyone for a few days.

The first day was easy. He got some things done around his house. He took a nap. He played some video games. The second day things became harder. He struggled to fill the time – waiting for bedtime and wondering what the next five days would be like. By day four, he became agitated at the measure of loneliness he felt and began thinking about the people who experience this sort of isolation on a daily basis. By the sixth, he began feeling insecure about himself and the relationships he would re-enter at the end of this experiment. Would anyone care that he was off the grid for seven days? Will they be as excited to see him as he would be to see them? If not, then why make the effort?

Life is harder when we try to do it alone. Loneliness and isolation affect us on an emotional and psychological level.

Seven days is all it took what for him to learn what many of us struggle to learn over a lifetime… Life is harder when we try to do it alone. Loneliness and isolation affects us on an emotional and psychological level. This truth isn’t exclusive to extroverts, this is a human reality. Most of us will never attempt an experiment like this. We have no interest in cutting ourselves off from all human contact. Unfortunately, what we will do is settle for shallow friendships that leave us feeling hollow when life starts to come apart. We find ourselves frustrated and alone, knowing there is more to life but unsure of how to find it.

Perhaps this is why Jesus’ last prayer before he was arrested was that his people would be “one” (John 17:21). He knew the road ahead would be a difficult one and he knew they would need each other to endure the challenges they would face. His prayer was that we would recognize that we are designed to thrive in authentic relationships with one another, that isolation makes us vulnerable and frustrated.

There is always a risk in opening up ourselves to know and be known by other people. But whether it is making a friend or joining a small group, taking a step towards community is always worth the risk. We weren’t created to go through life alone, and being a part of God’s family means that we never have to.

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