Archive for the ‘connection’ Tag

Hard-Wired for Connection and Community

                My hope is that I AM is a window into Truth, a glimpse into the miracle, the mystery and magic of who we really are, and of the basic nature of the connection and unity of all things~ Tom Shadyac

The documentary I Am ( the brainchild of director Tom Shadyac, whose film credits include hits like Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, and Liar, Liar.  Shadyac decided to make this documentary after a serious biking accident made him reevaluate his priorities and share publicly what he had been thinking about for years.  Once he had recovered, he set out with a camera crew to interview the great thinkers and scientists of our time, asking them what is wrong with our world and what we can do about it.

Interestingly enough, Shadyac found out instead what was right with the world.  One thing he discovered was that science has proven every human being is hard-wired for a compassionate response to the troubles of others, and that there is a measurable magnetic field given off by every human heart which can have a physiological effect on other living beings around us.

This “hard-wiring” comes in the form of the vagus nerve, which gives us the physiological response (the tearing of the eyes, the tension in the stomach) when we see others suffering.  One unexpected proponent of this was Charles Darwin, who said in his book The Descent of Man, “Sympathy is our strongest instinct.”  We are equipped, at the most basic level,  to empathize with others.

At one point in the documentary, Shadyac was in a scientific lab where electrodes had been connected to a Petri dish filled with yogurt containing live bacteria cultures.  Whenever Shadyac was shown a gruesome photo or asked a stress-filled question, the electrical charge in the yogurt increased, showing the bacteria’s response to his stress.  Researchers at the Institute of Noetic Sciences verified that this response reveals how every living thing is connected.

This interconnection of all living things should come as no surprise.  After all, the Triune God permeates all of creation:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men (John 1:1-4, NIV).

Shadyac’s documentary I Am provides more confirmation that the life that pulses through each one of us, through all living things, has its origin in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Because “…in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), we are all part of a greater whole and hard-wired for connection and community.  Once we finally embrace this, we will never feel separated, never alone.

~by Nan Kuhlman


My husband and I seem to have a problem with rings.  On our honeymoon 25 years ago this week, he lost his wedding band in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.   About a month ago, I sucked up my diamond band in the vacuum, shattering one of the diamonds and ruining the setting.  Wedding rings are a symbol of the connection in marriage.  If our connection was based on how well we took care of our wedding rings, we would be in trouble.

Thankfully, our marriage is still intact and unaffected by our ring mishaps.  Life is messy, though, and relationship connections make up a large part of that messiness   Connection gives us purpose and meaning, and according to author and researcher Brene Brown, the ability to feel connected is part of our neurobiological wiring.

Brown shares what she’s learned through a decade of research into connection in a 20-minute presentation available on   She tells us that in order for us to experience true connection with others, we have to show our true selves, imperfections and all.  We have to let go of who we think we should be and have the courage to be imperfect.  In other words, we have to be naked in all our glory.

This reminds me a verse in Genesis about Adam and Eve before the serpent showed up:

“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame” (The Message, Genesis 2:25).  Adam and Eve experienced connection with each other, where they felt accepted for who they were and how they looked, and they graciously extended that to each other.

In her presentation, Brown reveals that shame (one major deterrent to connection) is universal – we all have it to one degree or another.  But her research turned up something quite unexpected.  She found that while shame and vulnerability were common to all, those who had healthy connections (a “wholehearted” approach) had a strong belief that they were worthy of love and belonging.  Though they didn’t feel being vulnerable was comfortable or easy, they saw that being authentic to themselves and being open and vulnerable with others was necessary for true connection to occur.

Being authentic to who we are and allowing others to see that is not easy.  But as I’ve thought about our hang-ups (okay, my hang-ups) with imperfection and vulnerability, I’m slowly becoming convinced that there is beauty in the vulnerability of imperfection through which the light of the Triune God shines through.  If we were created for connection with the Father, Son, and Spirit, as well as our fellow human beings, wouldn’t it make sense that the quality of our connection would depend in part on us being the unique person we were created to be?

It seems to me that any false self we might bring to a relationship would be unable to connect fully with another person, because the love and relationship that flow from the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit to us would be hindered, like a corroded pipe prevents a free flow of water.

As we accept ourselves and give that gift to others, relationship snafus like lost or ruined rings aren’t that big of a deal.  Our beliefs that “I am enough” and “I am acceptable” give us the grace to weather the mistakes we all make.

When we are willing to be open, authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect, the beauty of the Triune God shines through us and connects us with others.   By being willing to be vulnerable and authentic, we become a conduit through which Divine love, grace, and acceptance flow to a very thirsty world.

                 ~by Nan Kuhlman

photo courtesy of

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