My niece posted today about a fellow Iowan teenager who killed himself this weekend. In his prayer book, he had just written: “What can I learn through my loneliness? Am I to find fellowship, with others or remain alone?”
As tragic as it is, especially as it happens over and over again, this blog is not about suicide. It’s about connecting.
I cannot judge the boy. But with a glance at his photo, he’s handsome. The article said he often serves others, so he surely has a kind heart. He looks like a football player and while that’s not an indicator of connection, it does make a person think he should have connections, at least with his team of players. And the football players are usually some of the most popular kids in high school.
I find his prayer so telling. Despite the potential to be “popular,” despite helping others, despite the potential for connection with his team, his prayer indicates loneliness. How can that be?
I don’t know what went on with this boy, but I do know that with all the “friends” we have on social media, we can still feel lonely because we can lack the connection. Social media is the appearance of connection, without having a real connection. Don’t get me wrong; I love following the happenings of relatives and friends I haven’t seen in a while, watching their kids grow up before my eyes. I just don’t spend hours there looking and re-looking at what they’re doing. Because there is nothing like being with those people instead, hugging on those kids, joking, playing, having fun, and making memories.
It seems the more time we spend on social media, the lonelier we can feel. A girl on the radio called it FOMO: Fear of missing out. It looks like everyone else is having fun and we think we’re missing out on it. Instead of dwelling on what we tell ourselves it looks like, we should be doing all we can to connect with others. When we feel lonely, we should not give in to the despair; we need to reach out and force ourselves to connect.
DAY 90 HOMEWORK: Look out…that is not a warning; it’s encouragement to turn around and face those who are around us. They need us just as much as we need them. And say a prayer for this boy’s family tonight. May his life encourage others who may be lonely and serve as a reminder that there’s a better way to deal.