The Challenge of Feeling Untethered or Disconnected

A photo from Sunday's Celebration of New Ministry for The Rev. Tom Cook at St. Stephen's, Edina.
A photo from Sunday’s Celebration of New Ministry for The Rev. Tom Cook at St. Stephen’s, Edina

“I’m sorry I’m late… I forgot my phone and I had to run back and get it,” I said very quickly, mimicking how I was feeling. A big smile came across my friend’s face, “Feel pretty lost without it these days, don’t you?” “All too true,” I replied. Then my wise companion asked, “You ever think about why our phones have become so important to us?” I knew he was encouraging me to give an answer with some depth, and then I said, “I think the bottom line is to stay connected. Sure with text and email, but more importantly with my family or some other urgent matter.” “And so when you don’t have your phone you feel a little untethered to those most dear to you?” he inquired. “Exactly!” I responded…and then the pondering began.

A couple hours later, phone securely in my pocket, still ruminating on my previous conversation, I joined a friend for coffee. He shared with me that he had been struggling for a while and was hoping just to chat for a bit. Entering gently I asked, “So how’s it going?” A moment of silence and a slow response began, “So I have for the first time in my life felt really disconnected from God.” My mind immediately began to connect what he was describing, to my earlier conversation, and my feelings of being untethered to those most important to me.

In my experience, the feeling of being untethered or disconnected, especially from that which you value the most, is extremely challenging. It is a feeling of being ungrounded, like literally riding out an earthquake or being tossed around on a boat. And in those instances, you want to grab on to anything that is going to provide you with any semblance of security.   

While grasping for anything when there feels like nothing to hold on to makes perfect sense, in the end it can also be more challenging. In my experience, and as I suggested to my friend, there is no “one answer.” Yet, fundamentally, I believe that when we do feel untethered, it is often most helpful to connect with the “other.” That is why being a part of a faith community is so critical. Being in the presence of others who, too, are at varying levels of feeling connected, begins to assure us in a very holy way that we are not alone. Being present with others really does open us to the Lord’s never-ending-presence.  

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