Those who understand me well know that MUSIC is a significant part of my life. Music is an agent for me to be creative, express my emotions, communicate with others and deepen my understanding of God and the world around me. In other words, music enables me to connect.
When I refer to the term connect, the reality is that most readers would instantly think of a smart-phone, computer or other such devices. Technology is usually the go-to solution for us to source information, advice, to entertain ourselves, communicate, feel productive or just avoid boredom. It’s important to consider that the very tools which allow us to go almost anywhere and do almost anything also shape our lives and relationships based on how we choose to use them.
Have you ever actually stopped to think about how much time you commit, how much trust and the reliance that you place in your devices to run your life? What are you choosing to connect to? When are you connecting? What impact are the connections you are choosing to make having on your health and wellbeing? Ongoing research convincingly suggests that the more we connect online, the more we actually become disconnected from ourselves and the present moment.
The Bible makes it clear that we were created for relationships. As social beings, we were not made for isolation, rather connection. Neuroscience teaches us the fact that we are hardwired to be other-centred more than self-centred. When connecting well, we tend to be happier, healthier and perform better in the activities we engage in. Connections with SELF, OTHERS and GOD are vital to our sense of purpose, meaning and feeling grounded in who we are. These connections are interrelated, they strengthen and reinforce each other.
Given the accelerating pace of life, if we’re not intentional about disconnecting from things that drain us so that we can connect with other things to recharge and refocus we run the risk of experiencing greater anxiety, loneliness and ill-health. In my role, I have the privilege of having many conversations with students about the ups and downs of life. A common thread amongst all the different details is the desire to feel part of something, to experience belonging and acceptance, to participate in shared activities. We all do best when our self-esteem is high, we have a sense of purpose and positive social identity.
Do you hide behind your social media profile? Does your self-esteem fluctuate based on responses to your status update? Unfortunately, a distorted perception we may have about relationships can cause us to seek connections which are more harmful than helpful. Contrary to the idea that popularity promotes pride, it is the quality of our relationships which are more important than the quantity of them. It takes courage to open up to others, show attentiveness and build trust. It takes time and effort and often a great deal of patience.
Being connected isn’t just a horizontal issue – with self and others, it’s a so-called ‘vertical’ one as well. When we are connected with God, our Creator, it’s like being attached to a vine. Fruit cannot mature and thrive unless attached to a vine, neither can we reach our true potential, the life which our Creator has planned for us unless we connect with Him. In the gospel of John, Jesus shares with us- “I love you the way my Father loves me. Make yourselves at home in my love.” He is inviting us to connect with him. He offers us the chance to experience a life filled with real joy and meaning- not short-lived thrills, momentary highs, which we later realise can’t sustain us. A connection with God is one that is always reliable, never subject to end, it can’t break down or become obsolete, it can’t be hacked, breached or compromised.
Maybe you need to ‘DISCONNECT in order to really CONNECT’