There have been times when I’ve withdrawn from other people because relationships disappoint me and I convince myself that I feel less lonely when I am alone. Sometimes I don’t engage with other people because I fear it’s too hard and time-consuming to maintain meaningful relationships; typically, this happens when I am focused more on how others see me than on loving others for who they are.
I suspect everyone needs time alone occasionally, whether for prayer, rest, or reflection. When Jesus lived on earth, He periodically retreated to pray or be alone.
Yet prolonged solitude is unhealthy — whether solitude takes the form of isolation from everyone or simply people different than ourselves. Total solitude is not how we were designed to function at our best. We need other people to become the person God desires us to be.
“Connectivity” is a necessary component of our humanity and it is a necessary component to a meaningful relationship with God. By connecting with one another, we are able to use the gifts God has given us in the ways we are intended to use them. “Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for each of us has different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.” (Romans 12: 4-5)
I like the way the Jesuit priest, Richard Rohr, recently expressed people’s need for connection and relationships.
“The goal of the spiritual journey is to discover and move toward connectedness and relationship on ever new levels, while also honoring diversity. We may begin by making connections with family and friends, with nature and animals, and then grow into deeper connectedness with those outside our immediate circle, especially people of races, religions, economic classes, gender, and sexual orientation different than our own. Finally, we can and will experience this full connectedness as union with God. For some it starts the other way around: they experience union with God — and then find it easy to unite with everything else.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, From the Center for Action and Contemplation, The Beloved Community, May 8, 2018)
Our relationship with God becomes more meaningful as we learn to connect with God’s creation and form relationships with other people, whether family, friends, acquaintances or something else. When more than one of us gather, pray, work, or play in Jesus’ name, we move closer to becoming better versions of ourselves — the versions God intends us to be — and we become more empowered. “I also tell you this — if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I will be right there among them.” (Matthew 18:19)
Loving God means that we must learn to connect with God’s creation, including other people.
For love requires connection.
Love without connection is no love at all.