I read a thing.
This thing I read will be no surprise to any of us who are hunkering down during COVID-19: when we’re lonely, we eat sweets.
This statement seems ridiculously obvious, and unnecessary if you’ve ever watched a rom-com, but is surprisingly revealing.
We are wired for connection and right now, most of us aren’t getting enough. If we’re lucky, we have a person or two in our home who loves and understands us, somebody with whom we have a strong connection. But it’s possible to love the people you are with and still feel lonely. This is why we have friends and extended family in our daily lives. Our web of people keep us happy and thriving and most importantly, known. Those little bursts of connection act as healthy drugs, providing dopamine hits to lift our mood and brighten our day. Lacking the connection our bodies hunger for, we reach for sweets to help get us through some of the lonelier of our days.
Sweets are only a temporary fix, though, and eventually they impact our bodies in negative ways, which is why, at least in my house, we have entered the green smoothie days. Balancing what our bodies want with what they need is critical to finding personal and communal health.
Right now, our country needs a super gigantic green smoothie boost. We’ve allowed ourselves to binge on sweets, but worse, we’ve allowed ourselves to binge on tribalism. Our desperation to belong is causing us to double-down on the groups we feel connected to, even if those groups are dangerous to our health (I’m looking at you, anti-maskers.)
Remaining socially connected benefits the entire community and is what has allowed us to survive over years of threats to human life. We need one another, desperately, to continue on. Not even one of us can do this alone, no matter how independent and successful and correct we think we are.
“Two are better than one…If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion.”Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
The church has taught us this through scripture, sharing stories of how a people survived plagues, famine, and slavery by caring for one another during the hardest times. Jesus spent much of his ministerial life reminding us through hospitality and love that we are in this together and that we irrevocably belong to one another.
This time is hard because we are still asked to socially distance and mask-up, both which seem to impede social connection, but we are also a creative people, filled with ideas of ways to remain close to those we love. It’s time to discern what our bodies truly need and help one another survive.
Lord, we ask that you will open our hearts to the people around us. Help us to hear their words and understand their needs. Help us to allow our hearts to break open with compassion so that we may continue to live.