In this age of technology, it's important to evaluate and balance connections that are screen-to-screen rather than face-to-face.
"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." Hebrews 10:25 (NIV 1984)
I checked my email as soon as I woke up. Then I made breakfast and checked it again. Had my devotional time and checked it again. Ran some errands and checked it on my phone. When I got home, I checked it once more.
Now, I admit I have a thing about keeping white space in my inbox, but this was about more than managing emails. I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to pause and ask myself, "Why do you keep checking your email?"
I wasn't sure if it was God or me answering, but my thoughts intertwined with His Spirit whispered: You keep coming back because your heart longs for connection with a friend.
Yet no matter how many times I checked email, it was never enough to satisfy my craving.
Somewhere in the busyness of life I had let many of my friendships reduce to quick connections via email. My schedule had gotten full with kids, school projects, investing time in my marriage, and work.
I knew something had to give, so I asked God to help me find balance.
God had recently led me to cut back on the amount of time I spent talking on the phone, socializing with neighbors and hanging out with friends. Although I hadn't completely cut out my friendships, our face-to-face connection time had been reduced to a minimum as I obeyed God's request.
I realized I had not found a good balance, and let the pendulum swing too far. So I checked email repeatedly, trying to fill a God-created need for relationships with a white screen and black alphabet keys.
My heart was craving more.
That day as I sat in front of my screen for the fifth time, Jesus revealed the source of my incessant email checking and reminded me I am created for real-life connections. I need to fill that lonely place in my heart with friends I can share life with — in person.
That day I called one of my best friends. She happened to be available so I turned off my computer and spontaneously met her at a coffee shop.
It was just what I needed: in-person, heart-to-heart, eye-to-eye connection and conversation.
I know friendships are not easy to build. They take time and most of us don't have enough of it. But in this age of technology, it's important to evaluate and balance connections that are screen-to-screen rather than face-to-face.
We need to pull away from our computers, phones and televisions to intentionally carve out time for friends. Times where we can meet in person to share what's going on in our lives. Hebrews 10:25 instructs us not to give up meeting together to worship and encourage one another. As we see here and throughout the Bible, "meeting together" is important to God.
Jesus needed face-to-face connections, too. He surrounded Himself with intimate friends — first His Father, then close friends like John, Peter and James, and then the other disciples.
He also had friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus. People He spent time with sharing meals and having conversations about spiritual truths that applied to their lives. Through His example we see how important it is to satisfy our craving for connections by spending face-to-face time with friends.
Although social media is great in moderation, computer “connections” can't substitute real-life relationships. So, who will you connect with face-to-face this week?
Dear Lord, You created me with a need for friends. Yet, I find myself rushing through my days with little time for heart-to-heart connections. Help me to seek You first as my ultimate Friend, and then reach out to others so I can have and be a close friend. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Write down the amount of time you are on email, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and text messaging versus the amount of face-to-face time you have with friends. How do the two balance?
Call one or two friends you enjoy being with to encourage them and set up a time to get together.
If you're not sure who to call, ask God to show you someone you can begin a friendship with. Invite them to join you for lunch or to go for a walk together this week.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (NIV)
John 15:15b, "I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (NIV)