A friend texted me on Friday to see if I wanted to meet for coffee. She only had an hour to spare but I readily agreed to meet her. We ordered our coffee and found a table. We launched immediately into talking, filling the hour so quickly and covering quite a few topics. Too soon it was time to part.
I had entered our time together feeling pressed and frustrated about so many things. But I left it feeling calm and renewed. After several weeks of snow, too much time spent at home alone and pressures at work that were dragging me down, it was like a breath of fresh air to get to sit down with a friend and talk.
As I got back into my car to continue my errands I realized that I was craving connection and real conversation. Not the chatter at work, not the pleasantries that I exchange with people at church, but real conversation, sharing of life.
That thought took me back to a question that had been asked on Wednesday night at church about why people leave the church. I have so often talked to people who say “I don’t feel connected.” That set the gears in motion for me and I started to wonder, what is this connection we all seek? And we do all seek it. Everyone wants to fit in, to belong, to be a part of something. Everyone wants to feel wanted, needed, special. Everyone wants connection.
I heard a report on the news this week that research was being done to try to discern why teenagers and young adults are leaving their countries to go and join terrorist groups. It was discovered that at least in some cases, these young people had sought relationships, had tried to find a place to belong, only to meet with failure over and over. And so they go to join this cause, something they can unite around, a place where people want them, accept them, where they are part of something bigger than themselves.
That brought me back to the church question. Don’t we have something bigger than ourselves to unite around? Jesus died for each of us, sinners, bought with a price, washed in the blood….saved by grace. Why does this great truth and His extravagant love for us not pull us together and cause us to pour out lavish love on each other? Why does any member among us feel unaccepted, unloved, like they don’t belong? Why do they feel adrift and not connected?
Is it our own individual sin that causes us to feel disconnected? Is it that as a people we are too distracted, to busy, to unwilling to make commitments? Is it that we have let ministry take the place of ministering? Is it that while we say it is all about Jesus, it is really more about us?
Do we let our backgrounds, our hurts, our slights, our perceptions and misconceptions, our passion and desire, our pride and our pain, keep us from pursuing connection, from offering connection? Do we walk by hurting people on our way to take care of that tasks that is on our to-do list, do we put up walls that keep people from coming near?
As is always the case with me, I have more questions than answers. What I know is that God created us for community. He did not create us to journey alone. He has left us so many instructions on how to treat each other, how to love each other. Will you join me today in praying that he will show us each how to love as He wishes us to and in learning to do that, find community and connection with each other?
That hour on Friday, that cup of coffee and real conversation….it was a vitamin for my soul!