Social butterflies and wall-flowers

Social butterflies and wall-flowers alike… We need one another.

Let’s express our need well
& be practical in connecting with one another.

It’s true always and perhaps especially so at the moment (or in any crisis situation or life challenge)… whether introverted or extroverted, we’re made to be in community with others!

We need each other!

Thinking about this, I remembered an old song, ‘Help!’ sung by The Beatles.  Check out the lyrics and see if any of it sounds familiar…

The Beatles: Help!

Help! By The Beatles 

I need somebody

(Help!) not just anybody

(Help!) you know I need someone

Help!

 

I never needed anybody’s help in any way

But now these days are gone,

I’m not so self assured (but now these days are gone)

(And now I find) Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

 

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down

And I do appreciate you being ’round

Help me get my feet back on the ground

Won’t you please, please help me?

 

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways (and now my life has changed)

My independence seems to vanish in the haze

But every now and then I feel so insecure (I know that I)

I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

 

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down

And I do appreciate you being ’round

Help me get my feet back on the ground

Won’t you please, please help me

 

When I was younger, so much younger than today

I never needed anybody’s help in any way

But now these days are gone,

I’m not so self assured (but now these days are gone)

(And now I find) now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

 

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down

And I do appreciate you being ’round

Help me get my feet back on the ground

Won’t you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooh

Music speaks

I don’t know about you, but these words spoke to me.  I feel that we’re in a time when people (ourselves included some days) are crying out for help.  Things aren’t the same as they used to be.  Uncertainty pervades our lives.  We can easily find ourselves having a ‘blue’ day.  We might be struggling with the changes in the world; desiring some stability and a return to what we know as normal.  And for some, many, most or possibly all of us, we might be realising that it’s difficult being stuck in isolation and we really need one another.

Isolation struggles

This realisation is a good thing!  God created us to be connected with others.  He never intended for us to be isolated.  He designed us with a desire to be seen, known and loved by others, and to seeknow and love them in return.

1 Peter 4:8a says, “Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another…”

There are over 52 ‘one another’ statements in the Bible (more than one for every week of the year!), which give us instruction on how to love each other well.  This is the Father’s heart… that we experience and give love generously.

Seen, known, loved

 

There is so much I could write about social connection and relationship, but here are just a few thoughts…

 

EXPRESSING OUR NEED

Having recognised our need for one another, we can express it in a variety of ways…

How do I let you know that I need you?

 

A calm, well-communicated request…

Calm & respectful

 

An irrational demand stemming from frustration, loneliness, hurt or pain…

You may have heard the saying, “The children needing the most love often ask for it in the most unloving of ways”. As a teacher, I’ve seen it when a little person throws a tantrum, sulks, hits another student, cries, yells or isolates themselves in the playground.  But it’s not just children that behave like this!  Some days we all cry out for love in less-than-perfect ways.

Explosive emotions

 

Our role is two-fold – to develop our ability to do our asking in a pleasant, respectful manner, and to respond to others with gentleness, kindness and compassion. If we are in a position of authority over another (such as a parent or teacher with a child), or even of trusted friendship, you might also take on a teaching role, guiding others in how they do their asking in a polite manner.

When expressing our own needs, it can be helpful to identify our feelings and what is causing us to feel that way, so that we can then articulate it clearly without bringing harm to our relationships.  A simple example might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m feeling really cranky…  Oh, that’s coming from my disappointment that I haven’t been able to hang out with my friends like I normally do….’ and then sending a friend a message, “Hi Jenna, I’ve been having a hard time with week.  I was feeling really out of sorts and cranky, and after a while I realised that I’m finding it frustrating not being able to catch up with anyone.  I was just wondering if you wanted to catch up for a chat on the phone or whether we might be able to Facetime or Zoom, so that we can see one another’s face.  I hope you’re going okay.  I’m really looking forward to talking to you!”

Facing our feelings

 

When experiencing some negative emotions or behaviour from another, we may try to put ourselves in their shoes.  We might try to unpack the way they are treating us, reflecting on what might be upsetting them.  It can be useful to acknowledge their feelings, for example, “You must be finding it really disappointing to not be able to play basketball in the regional comp because of the COVID-19 restrictions.  It’s so frustrating, isn’t it.”  Acknowledgement can go a long way – it allows that person to feel heard, understood and a little less alone in their pain.  It can also lead to hope, as we can lead the conversation on to an expectation of a brighter future – difficult seasons don’t last forever, the sun does shine bright again even after the darkest night.

Let me help you up

 

If you’re able to guide another, do it gently.  Again, acknowledge the challenge.  Be understanding.  Let the person know that their feelings are valid and reasonable in the circumstances.  Then tenderly assist them to express them in a more fruitful manner – perhaps in words or maybe a creative or physical outlet, such as doing some art or wearing off some of that ‘pent up energy’ by going for a run or having a jump on the trampoline.  Remember, it’s rare that people intentionally lash out at another – more often than not, it’s an overflow of emotion that they are finding difficult to process.  We’re all learning and growing.  That’s okay.  Let’s help each other with that.

Guide gently

 

GETTING PRACTICAL

We know we need each other and we’re working on communicating that better, so let’s make some social connection happen!

Get social! Connect!

There seem to be two types of people in the world: social butterflies (the extroverts) and wall-flowers (the introverts).  Friends of mine, of the winged variety, have been going a bit stir-crazy being shut away from people during this iso-time.  Yet, even my petalled friends have been telling me that they are so lonely and struggling with the distance!

Social butterflies & wall-flowers

Personally, I’m a bit of a mixture: extroverted-introvert?  Introverted-extrovert?  Something like that…  I have been CRAVING people contact!  So much so, that I’ve developed a sense of sadness at our justice system – we lock people away (isolating them and surrounding them with other likeminded people – those who are also troubled), and then we expect them to develop social skills so that they can re-enter the world with greater sense of responsibility towards their fellow-man, ready to contribute positively to society….  Something about that seems broken to me.  I don’t know the solution, but it certainly seems like it could be an area that we could work on…  (Got any thoughts or ideas?  Let me know…  Social justice matters!)

Imprisoned in isolation

Anyway, back on track…

 

Being in relationship and remaining connected even when socially distanced requires us to:

* Reach out and make room for others

* Be gracious and forgiving

* Show kindness

* Encourage one another

* Pray

* Create opportunities for fun and laughter

What might this look like:

* cooking a meal or baking some yummy goodies and dropping it off

* posting a care package

* making a phone or video call

* playing your favourite board game online (for example, using Zoom or another similar platform)

* writing letters or cards

* going for walks together in the park

* continuing to stay connected with your church family though online church, bible studies and prayer

* saying sorry (for something current, or for a wrongdoing or misunderstanding of the past – it’s time to let those things go and walk in the freedom of forgiveness)

Don’t hold grudges. Forgive.

* making playlists to share with friends

* forming a book club

* trying out new recipes together once a week and chatting about their success or failure

* joining an online course together e.g. art, dance, a creative writing workshop, a gym sesh

* sending a,“How are you?” text message

* using Pinterest to create shared boards of ‘bucket lists for the future’

* planning a ‘we’ve been set free’ holiday together for when this all ends

Plan for the future!

* having a virtual movie night together (each watch the movie, then chat together afterwards)

* being a listening ear – acknowledging and supporting

* asking for help when needed

* sharing jokes or memes

* using a talent you have to create something for a friend as a gift

* smiling

* using chalk to write some words of encouragement on your footpath to make others smile

* making time for those who need you

* creating simple, fun moments (for example, stealing your family away for a surprise dessert from the drive-through at a local cafe)

Create fun memories

* sharing scripture and song which you’ve found uplifting

* THINKing before you speak (Is it True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?)

* teaching a family member a skill (playing a musical instrument, learning how to do a craft, creating the best paper aeroplanes in the world…)

* saying thank you (show appreciation towards those around you)

* giving space when family members need some alone time

* asking if there is anything you can do to lighten the load for someone you love

* doing a random act of kindness

* enjoying some family time doing things you might not often do (for example, build a jigsaw puzzle together, play a board game, go for a walk and explore nature)

* praying for one another (really pray – intentionally, purposefully…  Don’t just say you’ll pray, but actually do it)

Pray & intercede

The list could go on and on.  Please add your ideas in the comments below – it’s so great to share together and inspire one another!

 

As I said earlier, there is a lot more I could write about this topic, however I just wanted to keep it simple:

* We need one another

* Let’s express our need well

* Be practical – Get connected!  Escape the feelings of loneliness.  Enjoy nurturing your relationships with others.

Embrace one another

 

Until next time…

 

You are SEEN, KNOWN and LOVED by God!  He sees you in your isolation.  He knows the cries of your heart, your struggles and your dreams.  He loves you.  He has plans for a good future for you (Check out Jeremiah 29:11).

God sees you, knows you, loves you!

You can help others to feel SEEN, KNOWN and LOVED too.  Get social – connect – show you care!  Build relationships.  It’s so worth it!

 

Xx A girl growing

 

 

 

Scripture references: The Holy Bible (various translations)

Photo credits:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/orange-flower-with-butterfly-87452/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/ground-group-growth-hands-461049/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/beatles-vinyls-1181789/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-record-vinyl-167092/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-having-a-video-call-4031818/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/stone-artwork-326612/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/ask-blackboard-chalk-board-chalkboard-356079/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-holding-a-green-paper-736842/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/silver-iphone-6-987585/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/collage-photo-of-woman-3812743/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/high-angle-photo-of-woman-on-ladder-2467396/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-printer-paper-with-be-kind-text-on-plants-3972441/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-leaf-326055/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-and-girl-sitting-on-bench-toy-1767434/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/hallway-with-window-1309902/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/parked-boat-1450353/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-tattooed-praying-1278566/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-dessert-on-top-of-the-jar-2638026/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/macro-shot-of-light-bulb-170781/

 

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