Today I changed the background on my phone to this joyful shot of my niece and I adventuring around my parent’s house. The scene isn’t anything special. We took it on an ordinary day at an ordinary place, but these days—the ones full of quarantine and limited contact and stay-at-home orders—I don’t need special moments. I just need reminders of connection.
A little over a month ago, I started writing a chapter about community, and then our world went into lockdown. Ironic, isn’t it? With every word I wrote about drawing together, our world pulled further away. We locked ourselves in our homes, afraid of our neighbors. Our only connection to one another was through whatever device could connect to the internet. Social media, Marco Polo, Netflix party—none of it is bad but all of it is an attempt to fill the void of personal connection.
I wrote over 5,000 words in this chapter, and after I read it, I wanted to vomit. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph felt like the kid who shouts “Jesus” as the answer to every Sunday school question. So I’m starting over, and I’m spending more time in prayer than in writing. Because our world is growing more and more desperate for this thing called belonging, and I long to offer something of substance rather than something cute.
None of this is new. Virus or no virus, we wake up more lonely and afraid than yesterday. Anxiety plants seeds in our minds and traps us in an endless cycle. Panic and fear hold us behind iron bars, and we feel so alone. If only we would look to our left and right and notice the men and women standing beside us bearing their own burden called fear.
If only we realized we’re all aching for belonging, for connection, for community. We’re aching for love, and we’re aching for our people. If you’re like me, you’ve spent more time on Facetime or Zoom or Skype in the last three weeks than ever before. And if you’re like me, you might be a little tired of it all because connecting with people while the internet buffers is so challenging. Quarantine or no quarantine, I ache for genuine connection, and so do you.
Genuine connection comes when the masks come off. Sometimes it comes with hard questions or uncomfortable silence followed by honest answers. It’s messy and awkward and vulnerable. But when we’re honest about our lives and stories, we just might find what we’re searching for—belonging.
A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine leaned into vulnerability during one of the most vulnerable times we’ve all experienced. She shared the messy struggles of this quarantine and created space for my own messy story. No masks. No pretending. Just honesty. And her beautiful courage took my breath away, because we experienced genuine connection.
Friend, we have to fight for this. We have to find the courage to step into vulnerability. In a day of FaceTime and Social Media where our masks sit readily available, authentic connection begs us to burn them. Cut the act. Forget the show. Stop hiding behind distractions. Come as we are, because our world fears things we never dreamed we would—like grocery stores and parks and our neighbors.
But we need our neighbors, and we need to be honest with our neighbors. Because we share courage among each other.
Community looks different in the middle of a nation-wide quarantine, but connection doesn’t. Connection is the same struggle it was a few months ago. It extends its hand as an invitation. It calls to us, “Come. Step into vulnerability. Be honest. In community we find courage.”
So friend, fight for connection. Share whatever courage you carry and borrow some of your friend’s. Create space for conversations that invites people to bring their truest self and bring your truest self, too.
Because I need your courage, and you need mine.