I am amazed how disconnected I feel when I forget my cell phone. Take away my iPad, my computer and my other means of communication and a serious sense of isolation begins to take hold of me, and from the conversations I have, I am not alone.
It is not that I cannot live without my technology, though I do have a bit of withdrawal when I step away for a while. The real issue is the ability to connect with people I know and love. I am accustomed to hearing the news of their lives on Facebook and Twitter. Interacting with friends and colleagues by email is commonplace, and the ubiquitous cell phone makes instant connection a daily reality. I even have Skype connections with friends in several other countries, allowing me to video chat with them whenever I like.
This is not only my life, it is the way many, if not most of us keep and maintain relationships. We are part of a very connected world and those connections continue to grow. We understand the need for those connections yet, we can all too easily miss the value of real, deep relationships. We can be so busy with all of our activities, that we neglect the most valuable connections in our lives.
Not long ago, I watched two high school students visit the coffee shop I frequent. They purchased their drinks, sat at a nearby table, then pulled out their cell phones and proceeded to text for the next hour. They rarely spoke to each other. They were so busy with their connectedness, they missed the relationship that was literally right in front of them.
It is easy to sacrifice our most significant relationships, with the busyness of life, even the parts that seem to bring us closer together. We can be so involved that we neglect our relationship with good friends, with family, and even with God. Slowly, we step away from being together and before long we moved further than we ever expected, and sometimes, we don’t even know we moved.
The writer of Hebrews remembered the value of staying connected. In the tenth chapter, we find these important words, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (10:25) There is something powerfully important about meeting together, about building real, meaningful relationships. We need God, and we need each other.
We’ve probably all heard the guilt-laden arguments for being in Church and for taking more time with God, as if the litmus test of a healthy spirituality is how busy we are with religious activity. Such thoughts are a real shame, because they hide the deeper reason for making time for these relationships. It is not for duty’s sake that we gather, nor are we trying to avoid guilt. Instead, we make time for God and one another because it is good for us to do so. It is good for our personal wellbeing, it is good for the community of faith, and it is good for the world. When we are properly grounded in the relationships that matter, we can be our best for ourselves and others we meet along the way.
Like so many other choices we make to live healthy lives, taking time to stay spiritually connected is important. I encourage you to prayerfully consider whether or not your choices truly nourish your soul, and in turn, the lives of others. I know I need to do this on a regular basis to be sure that I do not substitute what is good for what is best. Make time for the people and things that really matter, and may we all be blessed as we celebrate our connection with one another.