“Social distancing” is one of the many phrases in 2020 we’re tired of hearing—so let’s quit using it! It’s not a good phrase anyway. We can still be social without being nose to nose.
Let’s practice physical distancing instead.
Social distancing is the last thing we need in a pandemic or any kind of difficult situation. We need people. We need each other. Even introverts need the benefits that come from social interaction.
In all of God’s creative work, everything was good. The first time God said, “It is not good,” is when He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). I don’t want to take away from the context of introducing Eve, the male/female relationship, and the institution of marriage, but God’s declaration hits me on more than just the issue of marriage.
Married or not, it is not good for any of us to go through life by ourselves. We need each other.
Dr. Barbara Lee Fredrickson studies the science of happiness. She is a psychology professor and the head of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at UNC. Her team interviewed 600 people trying to find a connection between their daily activities and the level of positive or negative emotions they experienced.
Negative emotions were experienced by those who just passively scrolled through social media and only interacted with others through chat or text. “Interacting with others doesn’t seem to help much when you can’t actually see or hear the people you are communicating with.” [Source]
So what contributed to positive emotions?
- Self-care (such as participating in hobbies or relaxing)
- Engaging in spiritual activities (prayer or meditation)
- Interacting with other people, especially via video or face-to-face interactions
- Going out of their way to help other people
While the first three tie to the physical, personal, and spiritual side, the last two are both relational. We need relationships—real connections to others.
Even in a pandemic, we need to be around people. We can maintain our physical distance and still socialize. That’s easy to do with Zoom and Facetime, but there’s something about being physically present—even while six feet apart!—that only adds to the feeling of connectedness.
The church I am pastoring is dealing with the same issue every other church in America is dealing with: we want our Bible study groups back! A virtual meeting is good, but it only goes so far. Those in my church are clamoring to physically do Bible study together. And I’m right there with them. For me, there is nothing more enriching than believers interacting with each other as they study and discuss God’s Word together.
Be wise. Wear a mask. Remain six week away. Just don’t stay away. And if you’re still not ready to physically meet with others, take advantage of Zoom, Facetime, and even the old-school phone call. And when you’re together—whether physically or digitally—read the Word together. Encourage each other. Pray for each other.
You need it. And they would benefit from your involvement.
Be safe out there.
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