In a world where technology connects people in more ways over any distance than in other time in history, we might be more isolated than ever. We seem to have lost our ability to, well, connect.
I can hear you thinking, “Because of social media and technology, I reconnected with friends from high school and college.” or “I ‘talk’ to my family more often even though we live in different states or maybe countries.”
Technology, however, will not ever replace community…doing life together. That just can’t happen via text, on social media, or in an online group forum. When you are doing relationships in real time, you don’t get to take that selfie 10 times to present the “look” you want the world to get from you.
It’s live. It’s real. It’s raw.
And, when life gets hard, we aren’t comfortable with others seeing that. How many posts on social media do you see about the crazy we all experience? Not very much.
What happens when our “connection” with others is technology driven is that when things get ugly, we tend to isolate. It’s easy to do it. Oh, I know because I see this from time to time, that a lot of you will vent on social media, and it feels good to get some kind of sympathy related emoji in response. But that feels very one-dimensional, very…hmmm…plastic, no, technological, yes that’s it, to me.
It’s the over-used christian response of “I’ll pray for you” of our technology driven relational (I use that term loosely) world we live in.
We think we are more connected now because I can quickly put a statement out there into the airspace that others can read and respond to in a few seconds. But it’s a cheap replica of the authentic original.
One of the toughest things I have ever done has been to be a foster and now adoptive dad. It challenges me to my very core. It reveals a brokenness in me that I either thought I had overcome or I begrudgingly admit exists. I experience a range of emotions that I find very uncomfortable. I find myself asking my wife, my son, and my God for forgiveness, sometimes multiple times in the same day, because this journey exposes me.
If you are a foster or adoptive parent, I know you relate.
The dangerous thing we do, if we aren’t careful, is isolate. We pull further and further away from others as we strive to survive. And we have reasons we do this too.
- We think no one will understand. Parenting a child dealing with trauma intensifies an already challenging role—parenting. Thankfully, research over the past 10-20 years teaches us how to parent a child with trauma. But often our extended family and friends don’t understand unless they are trauma informed. The “oh my kid does the same thing…” comments communicate that they really don’t understand.
- We believe that it is our responsibility. One huge mistake families who foster and adopt make at the very beginning is neglecting the importance of a support team that rallies around even years after a child is adopted. Fostering and adopting a child isn’t just an individual’s decision, it needs to be everyone’s responsibility.
- We get too busy. So maybe you do have a support team of family and friends who understand what it is like to parent a child from a hard place. But unless you intentionally involve them, or they take the initiative, the busyness of our lives will drive us to isolation.
I am adding one more that really encompasses it all—We Feel Shame.
Shame whispers in our ear that we aren’t good enough; that we can’t handle it; that we made a mistake; that we don’t like our kid; that others are better than we are….on and on. Shame, toxic shame is what I call it, isolates us more than anything.
How do we reverse our tendency to isolate?
Make space to do life with others who understand you and truly support you. Intentionally have time with other families. If you don’t have a support team around you, take steps to form one. Find groups of like-minded families who meet in real life, not just in an online “support” group.
Isolation is a slippery slope that leads to devastation. Reversing doesn’t happen on its own. We have to make that tough first step into relationship with others.
Will you agree with me to make that step today if you feel isolated and alone in your journey? If you don’t live in my area, you can still reach out to me as I will gladly encourage you to move in the direction of real life relationship with others.
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