The Power of Welcome in an Age of Loneliness

From Jennifer Bailey at On Being:

Perhaps an opportunity for churches?

We’re living in what’s been termed “the age of loneliness”: we’re more connected than ever before, and simultaneously, more isolated. … But, really, the problem is that we do not give ourselves permission to talk about the things that truly matter. One of our biggest sources of resilience in combating loneliness is what psychologists call “common humanity”: the degree to which you see your struggles as part of the human experience. “To feel less lonely in your stress, two things help,” writes Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal. “The first is to increase your awareness of other people’s suffering. The second is to be more open about yours.”

What have I learned through the #100Days100Dinners project? The story of division so prominent in today’s headlines is not the final word on our democracy. Each dinner I attend reinforces a new narrative. A story that reveals that unity does not mean sameness, and it is indeed possible to bridge differences without compromising your values and principles.

The first step is the extension of an invitation to what my friend and colleague Micky ScottBey Jones calls “brave space.” …  Brave space recognizes that there is no such thing as safe spaces in our communities. We all have the potential to hurt others and be hurt ourselves. If we are to move forward toward a more loving vision of what we can be, we must do it together. It will require vulnerability and courage. Perhaps, most poignantly, it will require the risk of saying yes to the unfamiliar for a chance at the transformational.

Read more about #100Days100Dinners, “Brave Space” and other projects to encourage conversation here.



Image from On Being.

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