The Power of Connection: The cure for loneliness and isolation

“Every week at the mental health clinic I lead, I hear people say things like this: “I know lots of people but I don’t feel truly connected to anyone. I wish I felt close to someone…to be honest, I feel lonely most of the time.”–Gregory Jantz

Among the MANY crises facing our society, one is ignored:  Millions of people in our country feel chronically lonely and isolated, resulting, significantly, to mental and physical health issues in countless ways.

Cigna health service’s research shows that America’s loneliness epidemic is getting worse–3 in 5 adults (61 percent) report feeling lonely. The study also found out that 1 in 4 Americans “rarely” or “never” feel that there are people who understand them–or even care to try. Another study by Harvard showed that by 2021 36% of respondents reported feeling serious loneliness frequently or “almost all of the time.” (Survey participants covered all ages, race, gender, education, income, religion, and region). That is sad, my friends.

Let me be plain, loneliness is not just a lack of friends. People with numerous friends who are in crowded areas can still feel socially detached. Loneliness is not always a negative as extroverts do desire “me time” to reflect and recharge. Loneliness is when we lack someone we can GENUINELY communicate with. We all need those who can share our innermost thoughts, who will laugh with us when we are joyful, and who will cry with us during painful times.

Even before Covid-19, researchers learned that loneliness contributes to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, cognitive decline, obesity, cardiovascular problems, sleep disruption, and premature mortality. THIS IS A CRISIS. (I’ve been watching local obituaries for two years–not only has the rate of youth deaths skyrocketed, but the number of obits in general, have doubled on weekdays and almost tripled on weekends from pre-Covid levels. My heart aches as I look into the faces of young adults and wonder, “Did they give up?”)

On the other hand, those that had satisfying relationships experience living longer, have higher self-esteem, greater empathy, and are more trusting and cooperative. As a result, others are more open to trusting and talking with them.

So what are some ways you can PUSH yourself to create opportunities for connection? First, it involves taking a risk–such as asking someone out for a cup of coffee (sounds almost like dating a bit, huh? That’s why its scary!). There are several obstacles that keep many of us from taking the risk of connecting. Some of those may be: past betrayal (friend or spouse), insecurities, schedule, busyness, or past trauma. It’s hard to know where to start, but you’ll find, once you begin looking, that you have possible friends lurking everywhere. It could be a book club (start one!), church, or the gym. Join SOMEthing! You’ll never experience closeness with others unless you choose to take a risk and choose to join in. Find those people with similar interests–those are your tribe–and out of which, many friendships will be created.


Learn the art of authenticity. Connection happens through transparency. It means shedding the false persona. Sharing vulnerable thoughts and feelings should come as trust develops. Be PRESENT! Distractions are everywhere–especially on our phones. Be an active listener, and make eye contact. Even a phone turned upside down on a restaurant table can signal that you will ‘allow interruption.’ Act accordingly to your comfort level, especially if you have small children. Show respect always. Mutual respect is the core of close relationships. It confers honor, dignity, and high worth. Don’t judge. We all experience life and the world differently. Listen with curiosity!!! Help others feel good about themselves. This is NOT flattery. Flattery looks to obtain something, and sincere compliments and kind acts build up the other person with no expectations. Our relationships are tied very tightly to how a person makes you FEEL about yourself. People who feel the closest connections support, praise, and strengthen other people. Be accessible. When someone invites you for coffee but you are sincerely busy–say, “This week is tight, but let’s put something on the calendar for__________________.” Friendship can be like dating. So be kind!!!! By all means, don’t ghost people or make excuses. It just adds to their insecurities. Be genuine, remember? And by listening you are saying, “Your dreams and ambitions and cares are important to me, just as they are to you.”


Think about this: There are as many versions of you as there are people in this world. Don’t stress!!! You have time to solidify and create the version of you that YOU want to BE and to genuinely present to others. So don’t stress over the many versions of you out there that are uninformed, don’t care, or don’t know you. Start with a clean slate. Write the version of YOU by YOU. (You can even write it down so you remember who you are or want to become!)

Does God care who my friends are? Absolutely. And once we become intimate friends with the FATHER, we get to know his character, and thus, can look for those character traits in others who are potential friend prospects. There are plenty of warnings in the Proverbs about friendships, as well–God wants us to make wise decisions. Brush up on those! They are GOLD!!!

A warning:  There’s no room for cliques in the Body of Christ (Women, can I get an “Amen!?”). Although I recommend the 1–5–12 rule when it comes to relationships, we should never discriminate. I like the illustration of the 12 (I guess because Jesus used that as his inner circle). But I also like the number of 5-7 friends I can really “dig deeper” with and get together with more regularly. In business, we always say, “Your success is the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you want to become more spiritually successful, I’d suggest you surround yourself with 5-7 people who are spiritually successful or are on that quest. The “1” or “2” people are the “911” people–you know you can call them anytime and they will be there for you No. Matter. What.

Intergenerational friendships: I believe God wants us to look up, down, and sideways for our friends. The younger need us–just like we needed us when we were younger! Those our own age– we may have more in common with, and thus, connections may be formed more naturally (like another woman with small children like you!). Look up to the wiser, older women in your life, too. Find a few to whom you can honestly say, “I want to be like you when I grow up!” (Trust me, they’ll be so humbled, they’ll be drawn to your desire to hang out with them!) Again, this is not flattery. This is the building up of the body of Christ, member by member.

Trust me in this: When you decide to be a blessing, you are PART of the blessing. Be blessed!!! 




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