Get Real: Finding True Connection with God and Others

I sat down on my bed the other day to have my “quiet time” with God. Truthfully, it had been more than a week since I had really given Him any of my attention whatsoever, and I felt like it was time I connect with Him on some level. So, Bible in hand, I closed my eyes and started to pray. “Dear God, I come to You now …” Suddenly, I felt a little red flag go up in my heart, and I figured I must have said something wrong, so I started over. “Dear Lord, I pray that You would come to me now …” Again, another flag. What in the world …?, I thought, racking my brain to figure out why I couldn’t just get this process over with.

Then, suddenly, it hit me: That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m trying to “get this process over with.” I had no intention of really connecting with God, but was instead trying to fake my way through the prayer. In a still yet penetrating voice, I heard God saying, “Nope. That’s not gonna work this time.” So, I took a deep breath, looked up toward the ceiling, and muttered softly, “Dad, I don’t even wanna be here. I feel like a wreck inside.” In a matter of seconds, I felt the tears swell up in my eyes and my voice begin to tremble. I spent the next 20 or so minutes pouring out my guts to the God who had somehow made His way out of the clouds and onto the wooden chair by my bed.

Never in the history of the world have we, as humans, been able to communicate with such frequency and speed. If we’re honest, most of us will admit we feel a little lightning bolt of exhilaration shoot through our veins when an e-mail from a friend pops up on our computer screen, or when that oh-so-familiar ring tone comes bursting out of our pocket or purse. “Status updates” are now the norm on that overly addictive Web site that shall remain nameless, and if we get to the end of the day without some sort of thumb cramping from hours of texting, well, it’s been a rare day, indeed!

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Why all the craziness?” It’s an easy answer: As humans, we love to connect. We need to connect. When God decided to create Eve alongside Adam, He did so because He knew it wasn’t good for man to be alone. In orphanages oversees, babies often die simply from having been denied basic nurturing from another human being. It’s not hard to see that we were created to touch and to be touched; to hear and to be heard. We were not meant to live as islands unto ourselves, but rather as individuals surrounded and cared for by others in both physical and emotional ways. It should come as no surprise to us, then, that we would be constantly looking for newer and faster ways to connect with more and more people on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, after having sent and received countless phone calls, e-mails, and texts, we have to ask ourselves, Do I really feel more connected? More understood? Less alone?

I met up recently with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years. As we sat down to dinner, I expected we would take turns swapping stories of personal success and academic achievement, as I had gotten so used to doing in reunions like this one. You can imagine my surprise when, in just a matter of minutes, my friend’s eyes hit the table and she said somberly, “The past few years have been really hard. I struggle sometimes with feeling like an absolute failure at life.” In an instant, every façade I’d constructed for that evening fell hard to the floor, and the two of us spent the next few hours talking candidly about the hard-to-understand messiness that is often life.

Not surprisingly, our relationships with God work in much the same way. In Psalm 34:18, we learn that He moves toward the humble of heart, and to those who are honest about where they are. In other words, the more we’re willing to be real with God, the more likely we are to hear His voice. I experienced this kind of connectedness when my friend was willing to move past the fake and superficial into the real, and I found it again when, on my bed that morning, I decided to open up to God about all the ache and disillusionment of life.

So next time you find yourself texting endlessly about nothing, or pouring through the contacts list on your phone trying to decide who you can call next, stop for a moment and ask yourself what it is you’re really after. Are you feeling lonely? Misunderstood? Do you need to be heard or validated in some way? Instead of rushing from one person to the next, try spending some quality time (if only for 10 minutes) with a close friend talking about what’s really going on inside of you. And as often as possible, take a moment in your day to stop and get real with your God. There isn’t a moment that goes by that He isn’t waiting for you to do just that.

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