Loneliness. All alone and feeling blue. Countless songs have been written about feeling lonely, disconnected or isolated. These emotions, along with apathy are far too common these days. Older adults, young adults and children. All ethnic backgrounds, all genders, share feelings of aloneness. Connecting with others on a heart-to-heart level promotes the opposite; well-being, passion and a positive attitude. We are wired for connection to others.When those heart-to-heart connections are not in place we are not living our best life, we experience undue pain and suffering.
An entire genre of music came about as people expressed their pain, and suffering. “Lonely Avenue” a song written by Doc Pomus, has a riveting rendition embodied by Ray Charles, which gives us a clear sense of what it is like to feel disconnected. Listen to it here:
This blues song written in the 1960s stirs one to reminisce of a time when they were a resident on that very avenue. Blues resonates with each of us to some degree. Our ability to connect, one with another, heart-to-heart, causes the cavern that is loneliness to transformed; to shallow.
Whether it be a romantic relationship, or platonic, the feelings of loneliness, even in a room fully occupied by others, are not foreign to us.
The lyrics speak of a room with windows and yet no sunshine ever comes through, how can that be? What causes some to basque in the beauty of the light while others in the same room can be in utter darkness? How can we combat the all to universal pain of loneliness, either in ourselves or others? Connecting heart-to-heart is a remedy. We help ourselves and others when we connect on a heart-to-heart level.
It can be that you are not in that place of loneliness, in a room cloaked in darkness, with multiple windows. You may not be experiencing the depth of a lonely avenue, yet some of your relationships are not as full as they can be. Perhaps family, friends, co-workers or even strangers you encounter in your daily activities are residents on Lonely Avenue.
Connections – Only Clicks Away
The world contains more than seven billion people wired to connect with others. We reach out to others in various ways. Seventeenth-century English author John Donne wrote, “No man is an island…” Yes, each of us touches another. Some connect frequently in person, as is reflected in physical gatherings. Many connect on social media platforms. Approximately two and one half billion people are connected to various forms of social media.
People report that they are on social media platforms for various reasons. It is estimated that the average person will spend more than five years on social media in their lifetime. However, there are times when we all feel alone. Could it be that some of the need to accumulate friends and followers relates to our desire to be connected to others? Is it possible that all of those clicks are a way for us to have a sense of connection?
We were created to love and be loved. We were created in the likeness of God who is love. We have been commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. While some of those click connections serve a valuable purpose of linking to others, a craving remains to connect on a more intimate level, heart-to-heart. Those heart-to-heart connections are what truly sustain us. Laughter, encouragement, pain and shared experiences on a personal level with others creates authentic connections that carry us through the twists and turns of life.
Often these authentic connections come through a spouse, family member, the workplace, our community or other routine interactions. This type of heart-to-heart communion is when we are able to share intimate thoughts and feelings. These kinds of connections can also occur with people you have never met before.
Recently I was on the phone with a service provider’s customer service representative. I was asking questions about a bill and trying to make an informed choice about changing my service commitment to this company. As a former customer service supervisor and trainer of customer service representatives I have a keen sense of service levels from exceptional to mediocre. Over the years I have become more likely to ask to speak to a supervisor to report great service. God has, in response to my seeking His way of doing and being right, done a great work on my heart. It continues to be an area of work in progress.
I have come to a point where I go out of my way to be open to the fact that the customer service representative deserves my patience, kindness and understanding. Directing my energies to make the encounter pleasant is my goal.
My first impression of the representative, ( I will call Sheila) based on the first minute of the call, was she had an attitude of apathy mixed with a combat ready stance. As I spoke with Sheila, I focused on the information I needed. Sprinkled in the conversation was my constant reminder, to myself, that I was to treat her with respect (Godly love). Finally, about 15 minutes into the call, before I got all of my questions answered, I decided to end the call. During the call as I reflected continually on my posture my heart was moved. I realized I sensed something beneath the aggressive behavior, a woundedness. A heart-to-heart connection.
At that moment I began to speak words, unplanned, in a loving tone, “Thank you Sheila for your help. I heard something during this call. I am not sure what you are going through now, but I will be praying for you. It is my gift to you and you do not need to respond.” I got it out in one breath, not knowing how it would be received. As I took a breath she said something that I did not fully understand until I had hung up. Sheila said, “ I am crying.” I then quickly told her to have an outstanding day. I heard her pressing buttons as if she were going unavailable before another call could drop into her queue.
We connected on a heart-to-heart level. My actions gave God a place to do His work! He gets the glory! I was quite moved then and as I recount the events here I am emotional again. I could have behaved like an obnoxious customer, it was not something that in the past was completely foreign to me. I have been on both sides of that type of interaction as the sender and the receiver of a far less than cordial exchange. I am not proud of my actions, nonetheless I am elated by the transformation.
However, because I was willing to make a connection, heart-to-heart with another individual, my neighbor, God blessed her and he blessed me. The fruits from that act of love to her continues. Over the past week or so since the incident I bring her and her situation before our Father in prayer. His word says that we reap what we sow, I believe it.
When you encounter someone like Sheila, with God’s prompting make that heart-to-heart connection. Understand that you may never see them again. They may never say thank you, you may never get a certificate or accolades, at least not in the form of clicks or likes. As the folks at Nike so eloquently say “Just do it”!
What would happen if we all made heart-to-heart connections with those that we see on a daily basis, randomly with no expectation of remuneration? I challenge you to see how many heart-to-heart connections you can make over the next three weeks. Please track your connections and drop me a note letting me know what your number means to you. Make connections without clicks, rather with love in your heart. God is faithful. His promises to those who are obedient to His word apply to you! Study His word. Do His will. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Be blessed! Heart-to-heart connections chase the blues away!
Take Inventory and Take Action!
“Lighting the path to loving your neighbor as yourself.”