by Cheryl Luke
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As a single woman, I have learned over the years to be intentional and strategic about cultivating healthy relationships. Mentoring individuals, connecting with friends and meeting new people was a part of my pre-COVID norm. Going to coffee or dinner on any day or night was typical. However, in the throes of the pandemic and suddenly sequestered in my home, all of those came to a sudden halt.
Community is one of the greatest gifts we have. God never intended for us to navigate our lives or Christian experience alone. Andy Stanley said, “The primary activity of the church was one-anothering one another.” There are over 50 statements in the New Testament related to doing life together. Here are just a few:
Love one another (John 13:34)
Consider others as more important (Philippians 2:3)
Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
Pray for each other (James 5:16)
Carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
Teach and correct each other (2 Timothy 2:2)
Live in peace with each other (Romans 12:16)
The onset and lingering devastation of COVID 19 has affected the lives of some more severely than others. My home, which is generally a revolving door of great nieces and nephews along with their parents, had become less active. Feelings of loneliness surfaced because of the lack of physical presence and interaction. A deep longing for the reverberation of laughter, music and life filled my soul.
The need to nurture existing and form new relationships is essential, but in this season of social distancing and face coverings, we can’t cultivate community in the ways we did before. Places that provide opportunities for socializing and gathering are mostly unavailable. But the Scripture’s command to one-anothering remains: obedience requires innovation and intentionality. Today, I connect with my small group via text messaging and Zoom, and sending cards has become a regular practice. Counseling appointments takes place by phone. I meet with my Dream Launcher Team via FaceTime, and look forward to online watch parties with my extended family.
Although social distancing is a necessary component to flattening the curve and ending the spread of COVID 19, the impact of isolation for those single individuals can lead to extreme loneliness. In his article, Social Isolation, Loneliness and Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg notes that “approximately ¼ of all US and Canadian households are single person homes.” He goes on to say, “until the middle of the 20th century, not a single society in the history of our species sustained large numbers of people living alone for long periods of time.”
As a single person I had to focus on nurturing healthy relationships, now the entire world is being forced to be intentional about fostering community.The lessons I’ve learned about one anothering during this season are relevant beyond the single experience. As the body of Christ, it is necessary to rethink or re-learn how to one another.
God created each of us to do life together, but doing life together looks different now. One-anothering may look like having coffee with a friend via zoom—trust me it works —or sending a card in the mail, having drive-by birthday parties, or taking part in the chat during an online church service. Even though the paradigm is different, the need for one-anothering remains.
We need to be flexible because fellowship matters.
We need to be creative because community matters.
We need to be intentional because intimacy matters.
We can’t wait for “later” to invest in relationships. We need to reach out now. We were created for relationship. We were created for community.
Cheryl Luke is a speaker, podcast host and life coach. She is committed to empowering the generations to live with intention and embrace Christ’s unyielding love. Cheryl lives in the Austin, Texas area, serves at Shoreline Church and serves as the National Director of Cultural Communities for Celebrate Recovery. Find her on Instagram @cherylluke and The Mosaic Life Podcast.