Friends and the Pandemic

Last night I spent some quality time with friends over a little food and six feet of space.  It’s funny that at the end of the night I felt so energized. One of the men I see fairly regularly even during the pandemic, once every two weeks or so.  The other I hadn’t seen since the heat of the summer, when we each drove 45 minutes to the in between, grabbed a donut, and sat masked in a car.  So last night we ordered wings, and gathered at a place with plenty of space, laughing and praying and talking.  What a night!

I drove home and talked to my wife about my evening and we talked about relationships during the pandemic.  She told me about an article she read that stated that a good encounter with a friend or friends is like a shot of dopamine in your system, and in an environment where we are looking for anything we can think of to get us motivated, I thought about the friends God has put in my life.

There are a lot of advantages to living in the world where we live.  We have technology and we have nature.  In one day we can read a book on our phone, talk to a friend in California, make something with our hands in our backyard, and walk up a mountain or on a sandy beach or in the middle of a great wood, depending on where you live in the world.  But at no point in history have we been able to realize the importance of real relationships than now.

I’m not here to question the validity of your relationships before the pandemic or on social media or in your church, but I wanted to stress to you today, as you may have found this post, the importance in having real conversations with friends, family, or just about anyone.  Just because you’re not lonely doesn’t mean someone else isn’t.  Often I hear others talk about they are just fine in their present state of loneliness, which to me sounds selfish, because their are people who are not fine in that state, but who also have no choice.

I want to encourage you Christian in the wilderness, to reach out to someone and ask them a real question.  Not “how is your day?”  But “how have you been feeling?”, “What do you need to feel better?” “What are some of the good things or rough things about going through this pandemic?”

Really I also want to encourage you to push yourself to engage with friends and others who need your support.  You may feel alone, but you don’t have to feel that way.  People need you.  They need your expertise on being a good friend.  They need you to love them when no one else or few others will.  They need you to stretch yourself when you’d rather be alone or watch that extra episode of Netflix.  They need you to call them randomly even when you don’t feel like it.

Here are some ways I use to connect with people besides an obvious phone call in the pandemic:

Facetime or Zoom:  I love connecting with people this way. In fact, I rarely call people anymore, and never if I have the opportunity to facetime or zoom with them.  I love seeing them and their reactions as we talk.

Marco Polo app: This is an app that seems to work best for me when communicating with people who I am close with but am currently not in close proximity to.  These are the people who I was close to in college or high school or as a young adult who I’m close with, but now they live far away.  It is a fantastic video messaging app.

X Box:  I know, I know, you’ll never be a gamer.  That’s what I said when a group of my friends asked me to get one.  I kindly said no and that I was not interested in connecting with them in that way because I am not 15.  Then they lovingly sent me a lightly used X Box 2 years ago, and I connect with some of my friends now several times a week that way.  We don’t just play games, but we also talk regularly about life and family.  In truth, the X Box has helped me connect with people during the pandemic more than I ever thought it would.

Take a walk:  Call someone and ask them to take a walk with you.  Wear a mask if you need to, but what a beautiful way to connect AND be a part of nature.

What are some ways that you have connected with other people during the pandemic?

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