Because God Made Us That Way
Do you struggle with loneliness or the inability to maintain relationships? Does that lead to feelings of depression or anxiety? Are you looking for the right connection?
God created you to have a relationship with Him and others. He created you to be connected to Him, to receive the blessings He has planned for you. He created you to be connected to His body, the church, to help you grow and mature.
Nate Ferguson, the Lead Pastor at The Village Christian Church, gave a message about the idea that all people are hard-wired for connection. As a Christian who loves neuroscience, mental health, and psychology, my mind quickly became curious. I started thinking about the various nuances regarding how people are hard-wired to connect with other humans. Isn’t it wonderful to marvel at the way our Sovereign Lord has designed us? God has created in us the right neural structure, nervous and biological system to connect with other humans. The right connection.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made – Romans 1:20 – ESV
Seeker, I pray that God gives you the eyes to see the great Designer of this universe.
Science Shows We Need Connection
Biological science tells us that we are the only species that have the neural structures in our brains to engage the way we do. Social engagement is critical to our survival. Mental health research strongly shows what happens when children experience emotional, mental, and physical deprivation. The outcomes are tragic, and yet this occurs throughout the world.
Scans show that parts of a child’s brain experience developmental deficits when they do not have a caregiver near them validating their emotions before the age of 4. Emotional regulation issues arise as these same children grow up, creating difficulties in their lives. People, as God designed it, need one another. We are hardwired to connect.
The most important things that any child needs at any stage in their development are “connection, presence, and affection” (Tangeman, 2021). Dr. Ed Tronick conducted the famous “still face” experiment. In short, the study involved a mother and a babysitting face-to-face and playing. During the first phase, the mother played and mirrored the emotions and expressions her baby was making. In the second phase, however, the same mother displayed a “still face” or a lack of responsiveness to her baby for two minutes.
The scientific take-a-away from this study is that the baby begins to cry and screech when the mom does not validate the emotions and expressions of her baby. The baby becomes greatly disturbed releasing a large amount of stress and worry hormones, harming her overall health.
What Can We Do?
As believers, the thing we can take away from this major research finding is that we can help people “re-wire” their brains by being present, connected, and affectionate towards those that are closest to us. Science and Christian theology teach that we need each other to be healthy, spiritually and mentally. Scripture tells us connection, presence, and affection are built in us. The writer of Colossians says:
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 – ESV
Paul tells the Christians at Thessalonica,
“and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,” 1Thessalonians 3:12 – ESV
A humility that motivates us to connect with people comes when we look to Jesus’ display of the ultimate act of humility; Jesus came to earth and took the form of a man to suffer like all humans; He would put himself on the Cross to die in our place.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 – ESV
So, scientific research only further supports what Scripture has taught for over 2000 years.
Here are some practical steps to have the right connection with people:
- Connect by listening to understand, not to respond.
- Be present by maintaining eye contact and reflecting on the things that people share with you, especially when they share deep-felt life experiences.
- Show affection by praising people when “they open up to you” (e.g., Thank you for trusting me with your story).
- Connect with people instead of correcting people-people desire to be heard and loved for who they are.