Practicing relational Presence

Last week one of my really brainy and beautiful soul friends, Elaine Johnson, author of A beginner's Guide to the Brain, shared how some neuroscientists are now discovering that relational connection is one of the "keys" to living fully alive. She shared how these brain researchers can show that physical pain, like breaking a leg or hurting your neck, registers in the same part of the brain as "social" pain - like being rejected or not welcomed. She shared the picture below. This "proves" what we all already know - that the playground ditty that declared, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" has literally, scientifically been proven to be NOT true.


Then Elaine proceeded to walk through the entire Bible to talk about God's heart in relationship....and the damaging impact of rejection and separation. Brilliant. Her simple, yet challenging summary...."Love is everything. Welcoming others helps people heal. It is the greatest gift we can give others." Next time she opens her mouth, I'm gonna record her!

Then I ran across a Tedtalk by Robert Waldinger who is the director of a 75 year old study on adult development. The summary point was what they have discovered keeps people most happy and healthy. It's not fame, it's not fortune. It has nothing to do with socioeconomic status or even achievement. Those who thrived in both health and happiness had one thing in common: good relationships. That's it. Good relationships. Neuroscience, now, is backing that up as well - even saying that good relationships are the most critical factor in overcoming our various addictions. If you want to take 13 minutes to take a listen to the talk, click the video below

Waldinger goes on to say, 

What might leaning in to relationships even look like?
Well, the possibilities are practically endless. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.

So, a huge part of good relationships is learning how to actually be present in relationship. This, sadly, is becoming a dying art as we get whisked away by the epidemic of technological distractions. How might God be inviting YOU to help bring healing to the world (and yourself) by practicing some relational presence?


Pick one thing from the suggested list below to practice this week in being relationally present to another:

  • Keep the "screens" off one evening and during mealtimes.
  • Don't use your smartphone while waiting in a line or waiting for a friend
  • Grab your favorite human and take a stroll together
  • Or - take a walk in your neighborhood and stop to say "hello" to everyone you pass by.
  • Pick up the phone (vs. text or fb message)  to tell someone how much you appreciate them.
  • Make eye contact and share a smile with a stranger

As a way to encourage others, feel free to share your invitations and discoveries on our reFresh facebook page. 


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