Ben Higgins’ is someone who looks at the world through a lens of openness, vulnerability, and hope. His passion for helping people connect with themselves, others, and God is one of the things I appreciate about him most. Ben reminds us how important it is to immerse ourselves in a world outside our own personal bubble, because we were made to live in community. While it’s not always easy it’s important to break out of our comfort zones, it’s crucial to making meaningful connections and feeling less alone. It’s a grace to welcome Ben to the farm’s front porch today…
For most of my life, I didn’t see the bubble I grew up in as a bad thing.
I had friends. I connected with other people in a meaningful way. That seemed to be enough. If I’d picked up a book like this and read through this section on community, I’d have said I was already living a very, very connected life.
But I wasn’t, and there’s a good chance you are not either, because all of us naturally gravitate toward bubbles.
There’s an old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,” and it’s true. If we walk into a room filled with people we don’t know and are forced to interact with them, by the end of the night we will most likely find ourselves grouped together with people just like us.
We will find the guy who grew up in a small town or the girl from the Midwest. If we are together with this newfound friend long enough, we might even make a strong connection and build a friendship that lasts the rest of our lives.
I’m not saying that’s intrinsically “bad,” but if we stop there, we stop short of discovering a richness that can never be found in a bubble.
As I look back over my life, I have come to the conclusion that I need to constantly make a conscious effort to break out of my bubble.
Breaking out means more than visiting a different country or talking with people unlike ourselves. We need to connect with those who see the world in a completely different way than we do.
You and I need to spend significant time with friends who were raised in a different culture with a different set of assumed beliefs.
Yes, venturing outside our comfort zones is scary and uncomfortable and can rock our worlds, but that’s the only way to see a full and complete picture of our world. You can never see the world in the truest way through the prism of a bubble.
However, connections with those truly different from us don’t just happen. They take a lot of work on our part.
When I think about connecting with people who are outside my bubble, I always find myself going back to my experience on that first mission trip to Honduras. Before I left, I was scared. I genuinely was. You don’t have to travel to a third-world country to experience fear of connection. I think it hits everyone.
You hear it in the way one tribe talks about another tribe. We use words like us and them, and those we deem them are always a scary bunch. Most groups have stereotypes for those who aren’t like us, which lets us prejudge and assume things about people without going to the trouble of getting to know them.
We don’t have to get to know them to be afraid of what they might do to us or our way of life. I hear all this, and I wonder—what are we really afraid of?
Are we afraid that if we genuinely listen to those who see the world in a different way, we might discover our beliefs are wrong? But, at the end of this whole thing, are we not all looking to pursue truth in all things, in all ways? So what good is it to hide from different perspectives and sets of experiences?
Connecting with others can also be difficult because we have a tendency either to look down on those who are different as somehow inferior, or to look up at them with jealousy.
When I first went to Honduras and saw the conditions in which these villagers lived, I did look down on them, as if they had somehow chosen to live in such poverty. Many years and many, many trips back to Honduras later, I find myself in awe of these same people because of their strength and resiliency and authenticity.
I could not connect with them on that first trip because I was too busy feeling sorry for them to look across and see them as the same as me.
The same was true when I joined the show, The Bachelorette. I found myself so intimidated by the other guys on the show that I couldn’t connect. When we feel intimidated by others, we usually feel jealous of what they have as well. It’s hard to connect with someone when you secretly wish they would get knocked down a peg or two. I had to get over those feelings before I could open up and have honest conversations with them.
I say all of this not to simply tell you my story. I am telling you this because most of us are blind to the ideological bubbles in which we hide. We live in the most isolated time in history, and as everyone who has lived through the COVID-19 isolation orders knows all too well, isolation takes its toll.
Living safely locked inside an ideological bubble, completely separated from anyone who looks different or thinks differently or sees the world through a different lens, is just as damaging as being stuck inside your house indefinitely.
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait for the all clear to sound so that I could get out and go hang with my friends or go to church and worship in person rather than watching services on a computer screen.
The months of isolation reminded us that we are made to connect with others, which is why we have to break out and make meaningful connections beyond our safe little bubbles.
In the last book of the Bible, in a picture of heaven painted in Revelation 7:9, the writer described “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (niv).
On that day, race won’t matter and culture won’t matter and money won’t matter—nothing that divides us now will matter.
Instead, we will all be united, singing praises to the One who loves us more than our minds can understand.
I believe what will be true someday in heaven can be true here on earth—all it takes is for each one of us to break out of our bubbles and take that scary trip into our discomfort zone to connect.
The trip is worth it, and the bubble is worth bursting!
Ben Higgins is best known from season 20 of ABC’s hit series, The Bachelor. The show led to an enhanced social media platform that he now uses to share what he is most passionate about with others–his faith, his hope for humanity, and his love of sports. In 2017 Ben cofounded Generous International, a for-purpose company dedicated to contributing profits to social issues around the world, and a lifestyle blog, The Mahogany Workplace, where people are free to discuss openly and honestly about all things concerning life, love, and everything in between. Ben released his first book Alone in Plain Sight.
As the star of the twentieth season of The Bachelor, Ben Higgins looked like he had it all together. Instead, Ben felt dissatisfied, fearful, and deeply alone. Like so many of us, he thought of himself as the kid who never got picked for the game, the person always on the outside of the joke, the friend who knew a lot of people but was never truly known. He wondered if he mattered at all.
In Alone in Plain Sight, Ben vulnerably shares how he found authentic connection with himself, with others, and with God. As Ben helps us name our own yearning for meaning, he explores ways to understand ourselves more deeply so that we are free to connect with others; how shared pain can bridge even the widest gaps between two very different people; why we must deconstruct our culture’s fairy-tale view of love; and how the God who longs for relationship with us is the answer to our need for connection.
As Ben discovered, in a disconnected world, it is still possible to have lasting purpose and peace. You are already known. You are already loved. You are already seen. Discover how to live out how much you matter as you embrace the true meaning of your one incredible life. Use promo code 5ALONE to get an additional $5 off Alone in Plain Sight when you order from Amazon. Offer valid while supplies last or until April 11th.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]