Human connection is vital to maintaining and achieving happiness and fulfillment, and Christ taught perfectly how to connect with others.
Linda Cole and Jonathan Sandberg addressed the healing power of connection and how Christ exemplified this in their Education Week presentation.
“Independent people aren’t stronger,” said Sandberg, a psychologist and professor in BYU’s Marriage and Family Therapy department. “To be isolated is frightening and traumatizing.”
Sandberg showed a clip from a video lecture by Susan Jensen that detailed the need for human interaction and connection. In the video, Jensen discusses attachment theory. Essentially, the theory says that humans need to know someone is there for them and that they matter.
“If there’s someone standing beside you when the dragon comes, it makes all the difference in the world,” Jensen said.
Sandberg cited multiple studies that demonstrate the need for human connection and the strength that can come from even just holding hands with someone, either a stranger or a loved one, during a stressful situation.
Next, Sandberg addressed the need to repair after disconnect in a relationship. Repair, Sandberg said, is conflict resolution.
Since he began his career in 1994, Sandberg said he has seen a difference in the problems couples come to him with and he believes it is because humans are losing the ability to repair.
“Good couples do not have contention in their marriage?” Sandberg asked. “False. Good couples repair quickly. They have conflict all the time, but it lasts about a minute; people say what they need to say, there can be a spike in emotion and they recover quickly.”
Cole then presented on the Christ-based aspect of connection and healing. Everyone needs healing constantly, she said. Christ provides that healing through the Atonement, but also taught how to connect to and heal others through his example.
Cole outlined 11 ways Christ taught to love and connect with others.
- He made time for others.
- He made room in his life to develop and maintain friendships.
- He lived his life among people; he was not a loner living in isolation.
- He was real, authentic, relatable—he did not consider himself better than those he served.
- He noticed people, paid attention to them and made them feel important.
- He took healing to the people who needed it. He acknowledged that not all have the strength to reach out, so he went to them.
- He was observant. He could relate to people because he understood their lives.
- His circle of connections was broad and all-encompassing. No one was a stranger or outsider to him. He touched the lepers and ate with the sinners and publicans.
- He felt other people’s pain.
- He loved people just as they were, even in their weaknesses and struggles.
- He was magnanimous.
“I believe that when he was telling us to love as he loved, he was also teaching us ‘this is my commandment, that ye heal one another as I have healed you,’” Cole said.