Last summer my family vacationed in the mountains in northern Georgia. I really like to hike and so decided to take a day hike all by myself. It was wonderful, peaceful and enriching for my soul. Then I came to a stream. It wasn’t a big stream — just a little thing I could cross by hopping on a couple of rocks and landing dry on the other side. But suddenly I felt anxiety that was much more intense than I would have expected that crossing a stream would have generated in me.
I have hiked and crossed streams many times with no incidents or accidents. The difference, this time, was that I was alone. I was several miles from the nearest anything. Rocks can be unexpectedly slippery. I could fall and bruise something, break something or even knock myself out with no one around to help. I thought of my family. They depend on me. What would have been a non-event turned into a careful crossing. Because I was alone.
We are not made to be alone. We are hardwired/created for connection. Little bumps in the road can become major events if you feel like you have to go it alone. You don’t. Take time for connection. Make and build friendships.
It can be dangerous to form deep relationships, to build love, trust and vulnerability with other people. You will probably get hurt from time to time. But the danger of building those relationships is nothing compared to the danger of living life alone. English poet, John Donne, wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself.” Jesus told his disciples, “This is how people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Both recognize mankind’s need to live in relationship to others.
It’s all about connection. We fear it and we need it. I’m not suggesting you find a stranger and spill your guts. I am saying that you, like every person on earth, need connection. Finding that connection takes time. Finding people with whom you can safely be vulnerable is a slow process. You find a friend. You share little things over time. Is this person safe? Is the vulnerability reciprocated or are they giving me the airbrushed version of themselves?
Real relationships are the gold of life and very much worth the risk. It’s a dangerous thing to seek out deep relationships. It’s more dangerous not to.