Over the weekend I had the privilege to hear a profound speaker while attending Menlo Part Presbyterian church Sunday morning. The topic was about getting “Unstuck” and the theme was about adding the element of accountability/community to our ongoing spiritual health and growth.
How many of us have found ourselves at spiritual or emotional crossroads over the years? Did you navigate these seasons in isolation or did you have individuals you trusted to help you find healthy and sustainable solutions?
Many people suffer in isolation, whether self – imposed orotherwise, and what we will find~every time~ is that those who live in isolation struggle greatly to have significant mental, spiritual, and emotional health!
Sunday, the Pastor shared a revealing study:
In a government study with rats, back in the 70’s, while in isolation, rats were given the options of water or cocaine from two separate spouts. Day in and day out they became more and more addicted to the cocaine; rarely if ever choosing to drink fresh water! The finding here was that rats in isolation became addicted to the cocaine to the point of death every single time!
A professor by the name of Bruce Alexander wanted another filter for this same experiment! He was concerned that the one consistant element in the study is that every rat was kept isolated for any others! The rats were in cages all alone. The rat has nothing to do but take the drugs. In isolation the rats never observed any alternate behaviours around them! What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It it was a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down, alternative activities, and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?
The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did!!
Hmmmm….what does that mean for us??
When we place ourselves amongst trusted friends and family, attend a regular small gathering of purpose minded people, check our thinking with those who are wise, and confess our challenges to individuals that have our best outcome in mind~ we will “choose better”!
God fully intended that we would go through the joys and challenges, sadness and loss, celebrations and surprises within “community”; never in isolation!
First Thessalonians 5: 11 says
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Galatians 6:2 says
“Therefore encourage Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
“Therefore encourage Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.one another and build one another up, jus Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor as you are doing.”
Who are your people? What trusted individuals are in your posse? Where do you go to garner wisdom, balance, and encouragement? Or do you find yourself for the most part, basically alone?
My prayer for you is that if you are in some form of isolation, you will be intentional in the coming year to build a trusted team around your life! For those with a posse, invite them in regularly so that you can soar above the challenges and temptations that would love to entangle you! We do better TOGETHER!