I was thinking the other day that the irony of the time we live in today is that with technology, we are more connected than we have ever been before, yet, it seems that we are sometimes more alone and isolated than ever before.
Why is this? In an age where we can reach out to and communicate with a large number of people with just the tap of our thumb? When we are surrounded by likes and followers, why are we so isolated?
With the click of a button, we use filters to enhance our reality, banish the undesirable bits and create the illusion of perfection. We proudly post our high moments, while never showing the low moments or even many of the in-betweens. We talk to many people, but as we see mostly their highs and filtered posts, we become so disillusioned by a fake view of the world around us, and comfortable in the manufactured reality and impersonal interactions that we have that we forget how to be real, to share real life, and to support and love those around us, no matter how imperfect the reality may be.
The more we Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook filter our lives, the more we can’t recognize the beauty of our true reality, whether that is our own faces, the world around us, or others. We can’t appreciate true life even with its flaws, or know how to deal with a reality that is less than picture-perfect. We get depressed when we feel like we don’t measure up, and recede even more into ourselves and our own little world and become self-absorbed. We become isolated and have only superficial interactions at most because we are afraid to let anyone see the real us, warts and all.
God said, in the absolute, very first book of the Bible, Genesis, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Later on, in Ecclesiastes, the Bible says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12). God’s plan was for us to be in community with others and He knew right away that we would tend to become self-absorbed and all too easily isolated, and therefore, weak,. The devil uses that isolation to break us down and tunnel our vision until we see only our faults, failures and weaknesses. We see only the things that cause us despair and can’t see the goodness around us. He uses these moments of isolation to strip us of confidence, cripple us behind our own self-absorbtion and fears and make us ineffective in God’s plan. We start worrying about ourselves first and foremost and stop making meaningful connections with others, we stop encouraging and start competing, and we maintain only superficial relationships that serve no deeper purpose. How can we further God’s kingdom that way? Proverbs 18:1 says “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.” We are designed by God to live in community with physical proximity, relational conversation and sharing in real life with one another, the good, the bad and the ugly – the REAL. Each of us is supposed to use our gifts to build up and benefit the others -that was the divine design!
Now, I won’t lie – I like a good Instagram filter as much as the next girl, and I think its only natural to want to (literally) put our best face forward — but we have got to learn how to accept the real and the less-than ideal that make up real life. Real life is messy. We can’t live in a fake, filtered world and be really effective in relating to others or establishing real, meaningful relationships. You have to be a part of a strong community of real people in your life that you get together with, really talk to, and share everything with, the good and the bad. When you do that, they help you get over the rough spots, rejoice in the goodness, and build you up when you need it. Hebrews 10:25 says we should not be “giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another“. You are stronger together, you are challenged by others and you grow when you accept the messiness of life and get out there anyway.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I don’t know about you, but I get refueled by being with my people, being a part of their lives, and vice versa. And the only thing better than that is imagining that God is there with us, refilling us with His spirit and just enjoying His kids getting together. That is a much better place for me to be than in my own space with my own fears and issues any day, for sure!