I like to spend time alone. I’m not necessarily a hermit, but I certainly have the makings of one. You might say that, under the right circumstances, I’m a bit of an “Old Hermit Starter Kit.”
Don’t get me wrong; I love people, and I value my relationships. It’s just that there are times in my life when I really want to be left alone.
While isolation and solitude can be healthy (more on that tomorrow), there is no substitute for life-giving relationships.
A few months ago, I attended an event called 2 Days with Rob Bell in Laguna Beach, California. There were about one hundred of us in attendance, and the setting was designed to be small and intimate.
In spite of the event’s size and structure, I was still trying to remain somewhat invisible. I enjoy anonymity in a crowd of strangers.
However, in spite of my best efforts to avoid personal interaction, there was a moment during one of the sessions when I felt like I needed to raise my hand and ask a question (I have written elsewhere about what happened when I asked my question, and I will repost it on this blog later this week). And, in asking my question, I drew attention to myself.
When the session broke for dinner, a guy named Mike came over and introduced himself to me and invited me to get dinner with himself and a few other people who were attending the seminar.
Mike told me that he had wrestled with some of the same questions I had raised during the session, and he wanted to talk with me a little more.
So I broke my code of anonymity and went to dinner with the group.
This was the single best decision that I made during my entire trip to Laguna Beach. Not only was the conversation interesting and the beer delicious, but it actually helped me work through some of the major questions I had been struggling with.
It is an amazing thing to learn that you are not alone—that there are other people in this world who are asking the same questions as you are, who have been just as confused and disoriented as you feel.
I have stayed in touch with those guys since returning from Laguna Beach, and they have continued to encourage me from all over the continent.
So to Mike, Chris, Greg, and Ty: Thank you for forcing me out of my anonymity.
As it happens, one of the guys in this story made a video about this very thing: the value of human connection, and it’s very good. You can watch it below.
Do you struggle to open yourself to new connections? Why do you think it’s so difficult for us to engage with other people in our lives?
ALSO: You can find Mike’s blog at www.mikemchargue.com, and you should totally read it, because this guy is wicked smart.