Physical Distancing, Powerful Social Connecting

Servants of Excellencesocial connection png

I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers, night and day. Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, that I may be filled with joy.
-- 2 Timothy 1:3-4

Suddenly the new phrase, “Social Distancing” is an integral part of our culture’s vocabulary, thanks to a pandemic none of us expected.

In a recent Heartbeat International staff meeting however, our staff was considering another way of thinking about this new catchphrase. Instead of saying, “social distancing,” we’re inviting ourselves to say, “Physical distancing and social connecting.”

As many of us across the country and around the world are thinking in these terms, we’re reminded that these thoughts echo the actions of an apostle named Paul, two thousand years ago. When separated from Timothy, his close friend and apprentice in the faith, Paul used the technology of the day—a letter—to maintain social connection.

In the opening sentences of his letter, he told Timothy of his constant prayers for the young man he considered a son, and of his burning desire to see him once again. To Paul, distance would never get in the way of connecting.

Today we have so many more options. Like Paul, we can write letters, and perhaps now is a wonderful time to resurrect this seemingly “ancient” practice. But we also have texting, phone calls, messaging and so many online platforms, we can practice physical distancing and yet grow our social connecting.

Our challenge today is simple: Will we allow directives for physical distancing to slow or hamper the building of relationships? Or, will we use this unprecedented moment in history as a springboard for creativity in building social connection?

Should we choose the latter, our creativity will develop a foundation for building incredible depth in current relationships, and perhaps open new opportunities to share the hope within us with more friends and acquaintances than we might imagine.

If like Paul, we press on toward social connecting today, our relationships—both old and new—will be more dynamic, more transparent and more fulfilling than before this crisis began.

And when the days of “Physical Distancing” become history, we might look back and say, “My favorite memory is that of social connections, made new and made better. And even with the challenges, those social connections made me stronger, helping me love others even more.”

Physical distancing? Certainly. Social Connecting? Absolutely! During this time, let’s use our creativity to make our social connections stronger than ever.

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Heartbeat International