One of the early lessons of child psychology is that babies need to bond with a caregiver. In years past, some hypothesized that an infant’s attachment to his or her caregiver was purely a response to that person providing food. Studies were done with baby monkeys who had two mothers: one mother made of wire and a stylized face that had a bottle attached to it with milk, the other with the same face, made of wire but covered in cuddly, soft fabric. The results: the baby monkey spent the bulk of its time with the cuddly mother, without food, and only went to the other mother long enough to eat, then returned to the ‘nurturing’ mother. Even then, when these babies were presented with loud noises and fearful situations, they cowered and had no idea how to respond or comfort themselves. Other studies concluded that babies need to bond emotionally and physically for proper development.
I told you that, so I could tell you this. It is a basic human need to attach to other humans. Relationships are basic to our health, happiness, contentment, and spiritual well-being. It is part of who we are as created in God’s image. We are not meant to be alone but in relationship. Even those who require time alone, introverts, find that time to be much more restorative when they know they have healthy and loving relationships.
Relationships can be healthy even if there are disagreements or arguments. When we are willing to just hear and be heard without the need to be ‘right’ we can build on a healthy relationship.
As we have often heard this is a time of social distancing not social disconnection. Nurture your relationships. If you have already discovered ways of maintaining these healthy connections, consider those who live alone or are isolated for other reasons. Reach out with a phone call, a letter, or even an email. They (and we) will be much healthier if we nurture one another through relationships.
Matthew 18:20 (NRSV)
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.