“Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?Remember the Verizon commercial advertising better connection.

2016, the year of the most connected society that’s ever lived.  A device in our pocket connects us to our children, our hair stylist, our boss, our suppliers, our neighbors, and our grocers at the push of a button. An order can be placed and received within 24 hours; a tune up on the car can be scheduled; instructions about “how to” can be downloaded.  No group of people in history has ever been so connected.  And yet . . .

We are more isolated than ever.  We sit alone in our cars ordering our pizza for supper.  We sit alone in our homes scrolling through social media.  We sit alone in our office surfing the web looking for answers to our dilemmas. The last two evenings, I’ve listened to two different groups of people who have been intentional about building community.  They’ve purposely begun to live life together.  It was a decision they made and some of them had never experienced that level of connection before.  

Connecting through technology is not the same as connecting in community.  True connection in authentic community looks like vulnerability.  Vulnerability comes at a cost.  So community needs to be trustworthy.  I watched a 30-something, motorcycle riding, inked-up, family man (and btw he’s much, much more than that) point his finger at a friend in his community and say, “We can cry with you about the junk in our lives because you are trustworthy.” Real connection requires vulnerability but vulnerability can only exist when the community is trustworthy.  

Engagement becomes authentic when the community values each other.  When everyone’s voice is important and everyone has something to offer, then engagement will be a natural by-product.  Most of us protect ourselves by acting like we don’t need anything or anyone.  Seldom do we say, “I need . . .”  More often, we can be heard saying, “I’ve got this.” Rich community values everyone, not just the ones who dress well or have more education or do a better job of communicating.  Everyone’s voice is a necessary part of the whole in community.

Humans are designed, just like Legos, for connection.  That’s why isolation is used as a punishment.  It’s hard on us.  It’s not healthy for any of us.  One Lego standing alone is not living up to it’s full potential.  If connected to the right pieces it could become a firehouse headquarters or something equally as elaborate.

If you’ve been without community for a while, I want to suggest that it is already impacting your health, both physical and emotional.  Consider getting outside of your comfort zone and create connection with others who value you, who are trustworthy and who want to be real with you.