No One Loves You!
"No one loves you!", that was the call from the IT specialist as he walked the halls of our office floor in 2000.
The “I Love You” computer virus was in the process of completely jamming our computer network through an integrated global email address book of thousands of people. Between naivety about computer viruses and the human tendency to want connection when someone says, “I love you” the virus spread like wildfire. In the end, the decision was made to shutdown the computer network for a couple of days and even then, it was months before the last message popped up in everyone’s inbox.
The phishing emails that have been circulating recently brought back this memory from twenty years ago. The combination of wanting connection and wanting to help those in need sometimes makes us vulnerable to exploitation by disreputable folks.
But the need for connection is real and is important. As Professor Matt Bloom at Notre Dame University’s Wellbeing Program notes, “isolation is a serious threat to individuals’ wellbeing.” Their research emphasizes the importance of staying connected with significant others, peers, and those who help develop our proficiencies. A summary of this research is available online at: https://wellbeing.nd.edu/flourishing-in-ministry/relationships/
The past nine months have made maintaining these connections more challenging than normal, and if we are honest with ourselves it is challenging even during the best of times. Now as we journey through the Advent and Christmas season the isolation can increase even more as we attempt to complete our 2020 to do lists, mourn those who are not with us this year, and face the unknowns of 2021.
We are in the midst of a pandemic and the season of Blue Christmas. The world often seems like a dark place and it can feel like “No one loves you!” Yet, we are not without hope and not without support, as the Psalmist reminds us:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord rescues them from them all.
- Psalm 34:18-19 (NRSV)
Even when we feel isolated and alone, God loves us, is with us and there are those who can help. There is no magic wand that makes everything better though there are those that God has provided to support us in our struggles. If you are struggling with isolation, depression, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts please know that you are not alone and there is help available:
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255),provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
These are challenging times, and it is imperative that we support each other. Please give me a call, text, or send me an email if you need to talk.
May the love and peace of Christ be with you today and always.
Grace and peace,