Life is about making connections and developing relationships. The two great commandments are: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
We share the gospel message of being sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents. We invite others to enjoy the blessings of eternal marriage and forever families. Even with all those promises, sometimes we may feel lonely and isolated, or we may feel uncomfortable reaching out to make connections with others.
While serving at BYU-Hawaii, more than one student came to me near the end of the semester saying that they were so lonely. Even on a small campus in the midst of over 3,000 students, they felt lonely. Even with FHE groups, quorums, classes, wards, clubs, culture groups, etc., they felt lonely.
While serving in Africa, one missionary was serving in a trio while waiting for a new companion. That missionary felt very separated from the other two in the apartment. He felt so lonely. Interestingly, a trio works for President Nelson, President Oaks, and President Eyring. It worked for Peter, James, and John. It works in a bishopric, Relief Society Presidency, or other presidency. And the best example is the Godhead: our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
What does it take to make connections? What does it take to make a trio work? Or any companionship? Or district? Or zone? How do we make connections with friends of the church, with ward members, with stake members, and with others? How can we become connected and unified? Being of one mind and one heart, unified in purpose. Loving one another as the Savior loves us. Being in the fold of God, called his people, willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; willing to mourn with those that mourn; comforting those that stand in need of comfort; standing as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. (John 17:21; John 13:34, Mosiah 18:8-9)
Sometimes we hesitate because reaching out to others is outside our comfort zone. There might be a fear of rejection. However, even if we simply start with a smile or a friendly greeting, we can begin to connect. Then we worry less about what others think of us and we become more interested in them. That leads to meaningful connections.
Adjusting to Missionary Life suggests the following:
- Get curious about others. Ask how they handle feeling lonely. Ask about their experiences and feelings so you’ll understand them better.
- Share more. We feel lonely when we don’t feel known and valued for who we really are.
- Listen more. Learn about others and value them for who they really are.
- Learn about the culture, history, and lifestyles of the people you serve. Keep a list of things you love and appreciate.
- Befriend your companion. Share ideas, serve each other, help each other, and forgive each other.
- Serve Church members, investigators, and others. Ask them questions about their lives, beliefs, and experiences until their behavior makes more sense to you.
- Pray for people. Include in your prayers the ones who reject you and hurt you (see 3 Nephi 12:44).
- Pray for the gift of charity. Do so “with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48). Ask for eyes to see others as God sees them.
May the Lord bless us as we reach out and make connections, strengthen relationships, and serve the Lord together in this great latter-day work of gathering Israel.
[Please note: The ideas contained in these articles are tools and suggestions for self-care, but they are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]