As I walk away from the office, my mind is occupied by the day’s events and concerns. My body is tense and a headache threatens. Unruly thoughts and questions intrude on my awareness like enemy scouts probing for weakness; futile ruminations over things said and done crowd my consciousness: Should I have? Could I have? What now? I call my wife to confirm our dinner plans at a nearby restaurant. Task accomplished, I find myself reticent to hang-up and for reasons I do not yet understand, I ask if she will stay on the phone with me longer. I’m reaching for something. The topic of conversation is irrelevant; the significance is in her voice - it alters my experience, filling my mind and pressing out those worries and ruminations threatening me.
Ten minutes later, she greets me in the parking lot with a kiss. I reach for her hand and as her fingers press between my own, I feel my heart slow. We walk across the lot – side-by-side, hand-in-hand – and my body relaxes as I become aware that I have been looking forward to this all day. Not long after, we are sharing a meal and conversation with good friends; I become aware that my body is relaxed, my mind is clear and I am present in the moment. I am reminded of what I was reaching for earlier; it is clear to me again.
The power and value of healthy relationships is so easily forgotten in the busyness of the day. Yet, research tells us that even a simple touch and a kind word can have a dramatic impact on the body as they provoke the release of oxytocin, “the love hormone”. More than just the antidote to a long day at the office, this peptide quickly neutralizes the effects of cortisol and anxiety, relaxing the mind and body. Its direct effects are startling, compelling us to protect the fidelity of relationships while moving us toward deeper relational bonds, trust and generosity. No less significant is the value of healthy marriages, families and friendships to reduce stress, improve physical health and bring meaning to life.
At Tapestry, we’re all about relationships and we’re convinced that our most basic human need is for love, acceptance and closeness. Since the 50’s, psychological research has pointed toward the notion that people are psychologically and physiologically wired for relational connection. We live for it; we die without it. Contemporary research is so consistent with this notion that some researchers have started referring to the brain as the “social organ” of the body. As believers in Christ, we recognize that we were designed for relationship and connection. Ultimately, this deep human need for acceptance and love is fulfilled in our relationship with God and, then, only through the sacrifice of Christ. However, temporally it is played out in those human relationships to which we are called. From the creation narrative to the book of Revelation, the scriptures highlight the centrality of relationship. When asked about the most important endeavor in life, Jesus responded, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Have you invested in your relationships lately or have you allowed the busyness of life to distract you with secondary matters?
Posted on Thu, August 1, 2013
by Jeff Pipe filed under