The Best Ways to Pursue Community during a Season of Isolation
A week or so ago I put up a little question box on Instagram to find out what prayer you are praying the most this season. Because it’s almost anonymous (I don’t share your answers) I think you can be pretty honest with me. And guess what almost everyone said?
I’m lonely and I’m praying for community.
Almost a year ago, the way we did community completely changed. I naively thought at some point we would return to what was “normal.” But we still haven’t. And what is hurting many of us the most isn’t the virus—it’s the season of isolation that we’ve been pushed into.
If you’re lonely, you aren’t alone.
We still need to pursue community during this season and during any season that might be more isolating than others, and here are some of my best practices to get you started.
You can’t be an active participant in any community if you aren’t there. For some of us, it might not be comfortable or physically possible even at this point to “show up.” And that’s okay, what I want to encourage you toward is showing up physically or virtually.
Personally, my husband and I felt convicted to physically go to church and our church is open. The health of our souls since going back to our physical church has increased exponentially.
We need the body of Christ, now more than ever.
If that isn’t comfortable or possible for you, show up online. Get over “zoom fatigue” and have good, life giving community virtually. Show up virtually to your local church service, and put away your phone and other distractions to get as close to physically being there as possible.
Close the other tabs. Put down the dishes. Focus your attention on God.
Consume with Caution
If you’re involved in virtual community more in this season than physical community, this is critical for you. What community are you consuming?
Is it artificial community (Instagram comments, facebook messages, TikTok videos) or is it authentic community (an online book club, a prayer group on Clubhouse, a Zoom small group)?
To pursue community in this season of isolation, we have to do just that—pursue community.
The funny thing is, we currently have so many substitutes for actual, authentic community, that many of us are constantly consuming distractions and things that give us a false sense of community, but only result in more loneliness and isolation.
Be cautious about what kind of community you’re consuming and participating in.
God’s vision for community is often different from ours. There’s this family on Instagram, I don’t even follow them but somehow the algorithm knows I would idolize them, and so they’re stuff pops up all the time on my discover page.
The wife is beautiful and shares about their community. They live basically in a dream world, on a Hawaiian island, and all of their friends are young couples in the same life stage as them and they all post stunning beach photos and adventure photos together. #squadgoals. Anyways—that’s my vision for community.
God’s is different.
I have to ask Him for His vision for community and I have to ask Him how He wants to use me as a participant in mine.
Sometimes that’s being a livestream moderator. Sometimes it’s driving my very southern friend somewhere in the snow becuase snow freaks her out.
Pray about God’s picture for community for you in this season, and then back to step one, show up.
If you’re showing up, being cautious, and being prayerful you’re already kind of a rock star at community. But we all probably know we can be surrounded by people, and have a full schedule with lots of other people in it and still be lonely.
Usually, that’s because our time together lacks intention.
I have a really hard time with weeknights. My husband gets home and I’m usually a little bummed because I know we only have a limited amount of time together each night. There are nights where we rush through our responsibilities, watch a Netflix show, and I’m bummed because we spent time together, but not really.
Other nights, my favorite kind of nights, involve cups of hot tea and long, slow conversations and intentional times of prayer.
Those nights are drenched in intentionality. We all need more intentional pursuit of friendships and community, and less time together that feels empty.
Get on Offense
I don’t remember where I first heard this metaphor, but since then it’s stuck with me. I played soccer as a kid and I loved playing offense, because that meant I was scoring goals. And what kid on a soccer field doesn’t like scoring goals? Defense was fine too, but not nearly as fun because all you really got to do was guard the goal.
As believers, we are often diverting to defense when we should be playing offense. We think because we are under attack, especially in seasons like our current one, we should be playing offense and guarding the goal. But, we actually need to get on offense. We need to be scoring goals instead of just focusing on stopping the enemy from scoring on us. Do you see the difference?
In pursuing community, this means shifting our perspective. Get on offense. Go out of your way to build and sustain godly friendships. Be intentional and proactive in your pursuit. Don’t just sit back thinking this is a tough season and try your best to be on guard and not get attacked.
Be on the attack instead and go score.
Don’t see the enemy as a threat to your community, go build a community that becomes a threat to the enemy.
Community is already something that is difficult to build and sustain, even without a pandemic and social media, and an enemy who hates community. But with these tips I hope you feel empowered to move into a life giving community despite the difficulties.