This is your brain.
This is your brain on relationships.
Neural networks alive, all cylinders firing. This is how we were made, and made to thrive, so say interpersonal neurobiologists, the newest in a growing stream of psychological wisdom which sees relationality as central to what it means to be human.
40 years ago, relational psychology was considered bad science. Behaviorism and Freudian psychoanalysis ruled the day. Then John Bowlby came along with a radical thought – human beings are relational at their core, and from birth these relationships must be valued. Misguided relational attachments would lead to anxiety, isolation, anger, and more. But secure attachment would allow women and men to thrive in their relationships as adults.
Bowlby’s radical thought dropped like a led balloon in the psychological community, which prized therapeutic distance, expert analysis, and well-timed intervention. It couldn’t be as simple as relating more healthily, could it?
Good science won the day.
I’d like to think Bowlby, Ainsworth, and the attachment theorists at that time had tapped into creation’s deep knowledge. Since then, I’d like to think that Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking research in emotional and social intelligence, and Dan Siegel’s groundbreaking research in interpersonal neurobiology has not only supported the early findings, but provided whole new realms of confirmation that God, indeed, create human beings in the image and likeness of trinity.
So, consider this – having been created in and for relationship as image-bearers of a perichoretic, Trinitarian God, what does it mean for pastors to flourish in relationship? And why do the statistics show the pastors are among the most lonely and isolated of all professions?
Why do we, among others, tend to do life solo? Why are we so prone to an individualistic spirituality?
Are so-called “accountability groups” enough, or is greater transparency and vulnerability needed?
I’m curious, and be glad to hear your thoughts.