Research is discovering more and more that those who have healthy, close relationships with friends and family members tend to have better mental, physical, and emotional health than those who do not have close relationships with other people. For seven years, researchers in Finland followed 3,500 working-aged individuals and compared their living arrangements with psycho-social and health risk factors. They found that those who lived alone were 80% more likely to struggle with depression than those who did not live alone. (Article link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120323001246.htm)
When reading about this study's findings, I could not help but remember what Larry Crabb has to say about human relationships in his book, Connecting. He stresses the truth that humans were created to have relationships with God and with each other. He makes this point clear when he says, "We were fashioned by a God whose deepest joy is connection with himself, a God who created us to enjoy the pleasure he enjoys by connecting supremely with him but also with each other." He stresses that all people need to connect with one another, and to not do so means that we are "profoundly unknown," and as a result, we do not experience the joy of loving or being loved. Also, when we are unknown, we do not enjoy the blessing of being believed in by other people.
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like without my friends and family members, and each time I think about such loneliness, I cannot help but feel like my life would be without purpose. I have heard so many times that life is about loving God and loving people. While this truth sometimes strikes me as almost too simplistic, I cannot help but agree completely. The longer I live, the more I am convinced that God has created us to have a relationship with Him and to love and influence others in a way that pleases Him. Jesus says in Luke 10:26-28 if we love God with everything we are and love our fellowman as ourselves, we will truly live. I wish I could remember this truth more often because if I did, most of my present concerns would not even matter at all. If I really think about it, when this life is over, all that will follow us into eternity will be how we loved God and how we loved and impacted others for His glory. So when I see more and more research that shows how much healthier and happier people are when they have positive, strong relationships with others, I am not surprised by the findings. How much of our problems, like depression, would be eliminated if everyone truly felt loved and appreciated for who they are? Whether they know it or not, they have a God who already does, but what a great need there is for all of us to reach out to each other as much as we can, as often as we can. A quote I have heard, and it is unknown exactly who said it, is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”