America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…

Hebrews 10:24-25

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced that America has a loneliness epidemic. Even before the pandemic, loneliness was an issue but has since been exacerbated. It is a health crisis with effects equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes daily, according to Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University.

“Loneliness is linked to an increased risk for anxiety and depression, heart disease, dementia and other health issues, as well as early death.”[i]

What is the root of this issue? Lack of connection. How is that possible with social media? Social media is an artificial connection. It is a great tool when we are far away from one another. However, social media has become so addictive that even when inhabiting the same space, we are distracted by our phones and other devices. It is like we live in the dystopian universe of Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, where everyone prefers to live in the virtual reality world of the Metaverse OASIS rather than face reality.

During the season of Lent, I fasted from social media. I often do this when I feel it is consuming too much of my attention. Without social media, I have greater clarity and am more focused. I can accomplish far more in less time because I am less distracted. Whenever I abstain from social media, I instantly find the time I thought I never had enough of. It is the same 24 hours in the day that has always been. Time had not changed, but my priorities had. I am also healthier because I have more time to exercise. I gain new revelations and life perspectives because I am open to hearing what God communicates directly versus reading someone else’s alleged “revelation.” My creativity increases. Most importantly, I am more at peace because my world is quieter away from social media.

Whenever I end my social media fast and log back in, I am immediately overwhelmed by how much information is coming at me. The cacophony of voices is like a loud trumpet blasting in my ears. You only realize how many opinions come at you once you withdraw from the noise.

What is the lesson here?

Perhaps the cure to this loneliness epidemic is more real interactions and relationships. When you are around others, put down the phones. Cut out the distractions and give the other person your undivided attention. We’ve lost the ability to communicate because our heads are void of deep thoughts and filled with junk. Build genuine connections with the people you are closest to. Earth is beautiful! Enjoy and explore it! Not just for Instagram likes. Volunteer and be a blessing to someone else. It is hard to pity yourself when you are helping others.

Bottom line, log off and live life.


America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

Be careful about looking back too long. You might get stuck. Apr 2023

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:26

Recently, I visited my family’s coastal hometown in South Georgia and while there I stopped by my grandparents’ house. Over the years, I have driven by the house and looked at it, but I have not been inside since the day of my grandfather’s funeral 25 years ago. He had been preceded in death by my grandmother just 2 years earlier. I often dream of being in that house, but in 25 years I had not set foot inside. But on this visit I went in, and boy did the memories start coming back.

It’s not a big house: 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a kitchen, living room, dining room, den, front porch and a screened-in back porch. Yet, it seemed that tiny house held hundreds of people no matter the occasion! I remember the Spades and Dominoes games on the back porch with my cousins, while my grandma and the other women boiled the crabs in the kitchen. Grandaddy and the men would be in the den watching TV. Guests were in and out all day from sunup to sundown. I remember sitting on the front porch on my grandma’s lap as she received guests all day long seeming to know everyone. It is amazing that a house that small was the center of so much activity. Good times!

As I drove around town, even more memories came back of places where I used to spend time. Back at my uncle’s house, I began looking through old photo albums with my sister and even more memories came flooding back. The longer I was there, the further I went (in the words of Minnie Ripperton) back down memory lane!
I missed my childhood.
I missed my family, both living and dead.
I wanted to go back.

But I had to remind myself…those days are over.

When revisiting the past, there is always a temptation to stay, regardless if the memories are good or bad. However, looking back too long is a trap that prevents us from moving forward. We get stuck on what could or should have been rather than moving forward with what is. When dwelling on the past, there is comfort in knowing the outcome of the story rather than facing the uncertainty of the future. In other words, the past is comfortable.
While a lot had changed in my hometown, there was also much that had not changed and I realized had I stayed there and never left, I would not have changed either. When we are too comfortable, we become complacent, and do not grow.

Salt is a dehydrating agent which makes it nearly impossible for anything to grow from it. Maybe that is why Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. She looked back when she was supposed to be moving forward. She was not ready to grow.

What is the lesson for us? Be careful about looking back too long. You might get stuck.

America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

Renew your mind. March 2023

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Currently in the Christian faith, we are in a season known as Lent.  Lent is historically a mourning period as we anticipate the death of Jesus. It begins 46 days prior to Easter on a Wednesday known as Ash Wednesday because during Biblical times wearing ashes was a sign of mourning. Ash Wednesday is preceded by Shrove Tuesday, which is known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras represents the final party and indulgence of our flesh before we enter the mourning and self-denial period of Lent.

During Lent we are encouraged to fast and pray as we prepare for the death of Jesus.  Christians are also encouraged to be more intentional in our studies and devotions. Lent ends on or around Easter, depending on your tradition. Most people give up certain foods, television, social media, or music. While others commit to reading the Bible faithfully or volunteering more during Lent.

While Lent may be a traditionally Christian observation, the principles of fasting and self-denial can be applied to anyone. We can all benefit from a period of abstaining from unhealthy habits, addictions, and distractions to focus and gain clarity on our life’s direction. During this time of Lent, I encourage all to stop and think about the things distracting us and use this period to refrain from them. Take the next 40 days to focus on an area that needs improvement and see how much you have changed by the end. The results will amaze you!

America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

Happy New Year

Philippians 3:13-14

“…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…”

Happy New Year!

Typically, around this time of year many set goals or make resolutions. A lot of churches like to start the year off with the Daniel Fast which usually lasts about 21 days or some just take the entire month of January. And of course, there are those “new year, new me” or “new year, same me” social media posts, and those who make declarations about who and what has been cut out of their lives. The point is this is a time of new beginnings for many.

As the months go by, many fall off the wagon and give up on their goals. Life happens and plans change. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Does that mean we should not plan or set goals? Absolutely not. It means we must be in alignment with God’s will for our lives. Our goals and desires come from God. Not us. So if things are not working out, then it may be time for a realignment. Examine your motive behind the goals you set. Were the goals set out of selfish ambition or out of the need to fulfill a calling or purpose? When you are not in alignment with God’s will for your life, you will continue to meet with failure. Trust me. Been there. Done that. Got the swag bag.

One of my favorite songs is Moving Forward, written by Ricardo Sanchez and recorded by Israel Houghton. The chorus says,

“You make all things new.

And I will follow you forward.”

We don’t have to wait until the new year to make changes in our lives. We can make a change at any moment. The time does not matter. All that matters is that we are moving forward. Things may not happen on the timeline we desire, but if we are in the will of God, they will happen. “…no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”[1]

Keep pressing. You’ll get there if it’s in God’s will.

Happy New Year!

[1] Psalm 84:11

America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

Happy Holidays! – Dec 2022

Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The holiday season is upon us, and I have already overplayed the Temptations’ infamous gospel version of Silent Night!

I have always loved this time of the year! Like most, my love for the season started during childhood. I remember the Christmas I got my Nintendo NES™ and my Barbie™ Rock Cafe. But more than the gifts, I LOVED the family gatherings at my grandparents’ house where everyone would come! My Family gatherings are exactly like those portrayed in the hilarious #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies on Twitter™!

As the years have passed, family gatherings have changed, especially in light of COVID. My parents’ house has now become the gathering place as the former generation are now gone. While there is a new generation gathering at the table, the absence of those who have gone on to glory is still felt. I swore off sweet potato pie for years after my grandmother died because no one could make it like her. But we honor the memory of our ancestors and still know they are with us as we look at each other. Their blood runs in our veins and we look like them. Plus, some of the secret recipes are still in the family.

Being active duty, I cannot make it home to every family gathering and that saddens me at times. But my understanding of family has evolved. Family is not limited to the biological. My family has actually increased. I may not always get to go home for the holidays, but I never have to be alone because I have a global family that will take care of me thanks to the military. These are the things that give me comfort and hope.

The holidays mean different things to everyone and can trigger a host of emotions. However, I pray one of those emotions is faith. This holiday season, I pray that you will have the faith to believe that good days are ahead. You do not have to wait until the New Year to make a resolution. Resolve now to have faith that even if things are not the way you want them to be, at the right time, the path forward will be revealed and your circumstances will change. Remember, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Have faith!

Happy Holidays!

America has a loneliness epidemic – May 2023

Uncancelled – Nov 2022

We are very quick to cancel people. Even celebrities that died long ago are not safe. Cancel culture is nothing new. There is a story about a man named Zacchaeus who lived in a Palestinian city called Jericho around 30 C.E. Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector; the chief tax collector to be exact. The citizens perceived tax collectors as greedy, collaborators with the Roman government. Therefore, by Zacchaeus being a tax collector, he was helping to oppress his own people. He was a traitor, a literal sell-out! Therefore, the community cancelled him. Ironically, in Greek, Zacchaeus means “pure.”

Even though Zacchaeus had become very wealthy and wielded much power, he was still unfulfilled. He needed his community. One day, an influential religious leader came to town and served as a mediator between Zacchaeus and the community. He reminded both parties that Zacchaeus is still part of the family, regardless of what he had done.[1] As a result, Zacchaeus repented of his ways and offered to repair the wrong he had done to his people. The process of reconciliation had begun.

Being human is complicated. We all have the potential for great good and evil. At some point, we will all be the villain in somebody’s story, especially if you are in leadership. If we keep cancelling people at this present rate, who can stand? Instead cancelling people, we should be working on reconciliation. We can lovingly hold our family members accountable for their errors in judgement without excommunicating them. Afterall, does cancellation really help or does it create deeper resentments?

We will all be villains in somebody’s story; deservingly and undeservingly. I suggest when it comes to cancel culture, we treat others the way we want to be treated rather than how we think they should be treated.[2] Afterall, you could be next on the chopping block.

[1] Luke 19:9

[2] Matthew 7:12