In this life, there are few things that are certain. Most of my certainties lie in the faithfulness of God. But one thing that I know for sure is that connection matters. In the United States, more than 1 in 5 women struggle with a mental health related issue. I am one of those 1 in 5. I struggle with anxiety and depression, albeit on a small scale. I am also an introvert who tends to not pick up the phone, or even reach out via text. Aside from a very few people, I connect with friends when I see them.
When the pandemic began and I was stuck inside my house, the depression that had been lurking on the perimeter of my busy life came out front and center. Not seeing friends or family outside of my own household was jarring. I found myself with no motivation, physically and mentally exhausted, and emotionally worn down.
It wasn’t until a day when my sister had called that I discovered how much true connection was a lifeline. I had been pretty down all day. My sister called, we chatted for a little while, then we ended the call. Nothing especially important had been said. Just general chit-chat. But when my husband came in the room later, he could tell there was a difference. “What happened?” he asked me. He told me I was in a better mood, I looked happier. That’s when it hit me. Even I, an introvert, needed connection with other women. I needed friendship.
We are in an age that is more digitally “connected” than ever before. I can scroll through Instagram and learn the intricate workings of someone’s life, even someone on the other side of the country than me. I can learn what they had for dinner last night, where they took their kids to play, and maybe even what they’ve been learning recently. But it isn’t enough. That isn’t true connection. We are made to help each other. We’re not made to just watch others live. We’re made to come into another’s life and let others come into our lives. We’re made to sharpen each other, to encourage one another, to laugh and cry and commiserate with one another.
Social media cannot accomplish those things. As much as we may want it to be that easy, our lazy digital connection has created a society that is more isolated than ever before. Not only are we isolated, but we’re also comparing our lives. Even the “vulnerable” posts leave us comparing our mess to someone else’s. “Wow, she considers that messy? What must that mean for my house?” “Oh, she had a bad day. But she still looks great. That’s not what I look like when I have a bad day.” These thoughts are not life-giving, they are suffocating and isolating.
Now, please hear me when I say that I am not condemning all forms of digital connection. There is a time and place for healthy use of social media and technology. But we cannot let them take the place of genuine connection. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a [sister] is born for adversity.” God has given us to each other in friendship and sisterhood for times of adversity, for times of prosperity, for times of joy, and times of pain. We are to share in that, not be on the outside looking in.
So, when was the last time you picked up the phone and called a friend just for a chat? When was the last time you had a trusted mentor breathe encouraging words into your life, or had a peer look at you and say “Me, too.” Friends, these are important things. Important things that have been harder because of the current health climate. But I have realized the importance of finding ways to connect with other women, regardless of how much harder it may be. Challenge yourself today. Connect with a friend, even if it feels difficult. You won’t regret it.