Recently, I posted a video about the importance of connections. As much as self-care is important, I think we miss so many opportunities to heal when we allow ourselves to be in the community. There is power in our fellowship and our conversations. There is power in our narratives. Listening to the testimonies and journeys of others can inspire us, can empower us, and can affirm us. Our healing can also be found in our relationships. Building connection and community is critical. It is important in many ways, especially for our mental health.
In an article in the New York Times blog, ‘In the Morning,’ writer Melissa Kirsch shares the importance of our time and spending it with those who matter. So often we commit to events, meetings, and even people we don’t want to because we feel obligated. Instead of using our time to spend with those who enhance our lives, we are wasting precious time with those who drain and deplete us. Kirsch quotes a colleague: “Spending time with friends you feel ambivalent about (because they’re unreliable, critical, competitive or any of the many reasons people get under our skin) can be bad for your health.”
The impact of COVID is still being realized, especially as it relates to our mental health. The isolation and loneliness that many experienced has impacted a significant amount of the population and for some, this adaptation has now become normalized. Kirsch further states: “A 2010 meta-analysis found that loneliness is “as harmful to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” Just as it is problematic to spend time with those who add little to no value to our lives, being alone is also detrimental to our well-being. Fellowship is important for our joy, peace, and our longevity.
“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…,” Hebrews 25:10. We need one another. The Bible has many references to the importance of relationships that demonstrate relationships are a necessity as we experience both good and bad times of our lives.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up…. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” Proverbs 27:17.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2.
One of the most powerful examples of friendship in the Bible is that of Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18). Despite their very different backgrounds, these warriors connected to one another because of their faith in God and their ability to see beyond accolades and accomplishments. They saw the heart of the other. They were committed and supported one another through various challenges. Their connection was empowering and uplifting. They also pushed one another to God instead of serving as a distraction or detraction from their purpose. Even after Johnathan died, David took care of his son.
Our relationships are contagious because we are impacted by the behaviors we see. Called social contagion, we tend to mock the behaviors we are around. As a child, I always heard the phrase, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’ As things go back to some sense of normalcy, pay attention to who you are spending time with—is the relationship rewarding or reckless? Christ modeled true friendship: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends,” John 15:12-13. Examine if the people around you are worth losing your direction and laying down your destiny.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry Podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the Vice President of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit drfroswa.com.