Did you know we are living through a loneliness epidemic? Rates of loneliness in the U.S. have doubled over the past 50 years. A recent survey of 20,000 adults found that nearly half of them felt alone, left out and isolated.
Most of us have gone through times where we’ve felt lonely, whether for a few moments or for a season. Short-term experiences with loneliness are fairly normal and are unlikely to have long-term consequences. But research shows persistent loneliness and isolation can be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being. It can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, loss of sleep and productivity, and even physical symptoms like cardiovascular problems.
In an era where everyone we’ve ever known or wanted to know is reachable via a tiny device in our pockets, it’s crazy to think that we’re more alone than ever. But perhaps that is exactly the problem. We have the world at our fingertips, but what we are seeking can’t be found in likes and comments. What we truly need is connection with the people around us—consequently, the very people we may be ignoring as we strive to gain the admiration of strangers.
We’re Designed to Be Together
If we want to live full, purposeful lives the way God designed us to, we’ve got to be in community with others. We were designed for it. Jesus never intended us to walk this life on our own. In fact, throughout the Bible, we are encouraged over and over again to engage in community. Galatians 6:2 tells us to carry each other’s burdens. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. Hebrews 10:24-25 says we should get together to encourage one another and spur one another toward love and good deeds. This doesn’t always have to be a big group, either—community can also look like a deep friendship rooted in Christ. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
We are simply not meant to do life on our own. There is so much more for us if we would just open the door and let people in. Community is not just a cure for loneliness, but the doorway to an abundant life. Instead of trying to handle life and all it throws at us on our own, we can turn to others who love God and love us, and who are willing and equipped to help us. Community matures us. It challenges us. It teaches us how to love and forgive, how to be generous and compassionate. Community refuses to let us remain stagnant, and instead pushes us toward purpose.
I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of several different communities, and each group I’m a part of pushes and grows me in different ways. The key is to surround ourselves with others who will encourage and challenge us, pray for us, hold us accountable, and be there when we are going through the fire. Your community doesn’t have to look exactly like you. They don’t have to believe everything you believe, or vote the same way you do. In fact, surrounding yourselves with people who see the world differently than you can be extremely rewarding. The important thing is to find others who are rooted in truth and living out love.
Find Your People
If you’re in a lonely place right now, please don’t stay isolated. Find your people. Reach out to the people in your circles and find the ones who want to go deeper. They are there, and chances are they are also feeling the weight of isolation and the need for more.
And if you have a community, look out for those who might not. Invite them in. Be obnoxiously hospitable. There is no limit to the seats at Jesus’s table, and there shouldn’t be at ours either.
If you’re local to the Virginia Beach area and are looking for your own community, please don’t hesitate to reach out! There is room here for you.