Who are ” your people? “~

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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.”

Romans 12:10

“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!

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What Happened to Sunday School?

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From the age of 5 to the ripe old age of 25 attending Sunday School was a regular part of my Sunday routine.  My family would head to church early Sunday morning, attend Sunday School, the regular church service, and after an afternoon break, we would head back to church for the Sunday night service.

Some of you can completely relate to that type of church schedule while others cannot imagine a Sunday schedule like that! Right?

The reason I have been thinking about Sunday School is that it represented a regular connection with a group of people.  My community.  My friends. Rich support through the seasons of life.   Sunday School, in most churches today, have been replaced by Bible Studies and Small groups, which is great IF the connections are consistent.

It’s so important, no matter who you are, that you have a sense of connectedness; of community.  Isolation never produces a rich life.  Are you connected to community in your life?  Do you regularly engage in quality conversations with like-minded people? Do you have people in your life who will go the distance with you?

Jen Waak does a good job of listing the Power of Community in a recent article.

The Power of Community

Here are 6 powerful reasons not to go it alone:

1. Collective wisdom. No one person ever has all of the answers, and regardless of the amount of Google-fu you may have, consulting with experts is always going to give you better information.

2. Pushing our limits. When working alone, it’s oftentimes too easy to give up when things get hard. By surrounding yourself with others working toward a similar goal or objective, you’ll get motivation, support, and friendly competition to push yourself just a bit further than you would have done on your own.

3. Support and belief. Some days those big goals just seem impossible. On those days when you most want to give up, you need to lean on your community the most. They believe in you—probably more than you belief in yourself.

4. New ideas. I truly believe that when you are working within a community of like-minded people that the wisdom of crowds is considerably greater than any one person working alone. Our divergent world views and lenses mean that we all approach the exact same problem slightly differently.

5. Borrowed motivation. Even on those days when your belief in yourself isn’t waning, doing what needs to get done can seem overwhelming. Look around your community and be inspired!

6. Accountability. If you’re an uber-responsible person, you may not want to admit to people you care about who are pulling for you that something didn’t get done. There’s nothing like having to be accountable to others to up your game.

In my early years Sunday School represented my community.  What represents your community? Do you need to be more intentional to create “community” in your life?  Life is always going to be richer when we do it together!

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