By: Dr. Lisa Kohut, Ed.D, LCPC,CADC
Many times, people seek out therapy to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc. – which I believe are all symptoms of a deeper issue that I call disconnection . Typically, we’ve been disconnected from God, others and self in some way for a while, but until the symptoms became uncomfortable, it doesn’t get our attention. Consequently, our uncomfortable and inconvenient symptoms unknowingly lead us on a trail seeking connection to the true Source, which is our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit.
Q. What do I mean by disconnection?
My first memory of disconnection was when I was in the first grade and our class was going on a field trip. I felt so alone, so unloved and so rejected. Nobody was being mean to me, but I felt different and ashamed of being the only black kid in my class and on the bus. Based on my feelings of “being different,” I decided that I didn’t “fit in” and wouldn’t be accepted, so I stayed quiet and distant. I made the decision in my heart that being different was bad in some way, and consequently it caused me shame and the shame caused me to hide just like Adam and Eve hid. As uncomfortable and lonely as being disconnected is, I believe that it’s a decision that we all make at some point in order to protect ourselves. We all have what seems like legitimate reasons for isolating ourselves and our reasons keep us disconnected from others, which eventually leads to breakdowns in every area of our lives, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially.
The good news is that a breakdown is often necessary before a breakthrough can occur. In other words, it’s often in our brokenness that we’re willing to empty ourselves of us and open ourselves to Godly wisdom to fill us up.
Have you noticed how from the beginning God emphasized the importance of connection and relationships? God wasn’t even alone, when He said in Genesis 1:26 “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” and in Genesis 1:27, He created male and female.
He created us as relational beings from the beginning and intended for us to live in harmony with Him and one another in order to stay in peace. I believe that this is why when Jesus was asked which commandment is the most important, He responded with the critical wisdom in Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself” (New International Version, Luke 10:27). The one Who created the Heavens and the earth was giving us a big clue that the key to peace and wholeness is staying connected to Him, ourselves and others in a meaningful and peaceful way... This can be a challenging task when we live in a culture that sometimes feels or seems so “disconnected.”
He has created us to desire and thrive the most while relating to and maintaining peace with others. Biologically, He created us with brain circuits that support our relational connection with God and others when they’re functioning correctly and can sabotage these very same relationships when they’re not functioning the way God designed them to function (Lehman, 2016). For example, when these relationship receptors are on, we feel relationally connected and desire connection, ready to connect with God and others. Contrarily, when they’re off or not functioning appropriately, we don’t feel connected to others and may not even have the desire to connect. We may not see others as being relational (Lehman, 2016).
All throughout Scripture, God identified the importance of the Body functioning together as a whole (1Corinthians 12:26) and the adverse impact that separation could have on individuals and on the church as a whole. Why such emphasis on relationship and connection? There must be a reason and a very important reason. If you look to science, we’ll find that research has shown that the very particles that we’re made of although appear to be separate they interact as if connected. “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together in relationships, as a family and as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26, The Message). This example is easily accepted and understood when we’re talking about our individual physical bodies because we’ve all experienced pain in one part of our body – even a seemingly insignificant or small part like the pinky finger or toe – yet somehow our whole body is impacted. However, when it comes to viewing the church as one body that’s intertwined in a similar way, the idea or thought of us all being connected and effected by each other’s hurts is more challenging to embrace. After all, from mere appearances, it looks like and feels as if we’re all separate. This becomes even more challenging when we apply this concept to the world.
The Origin of Disconnection
Adam and Eve presented with symptoms of fear and shame in Genesis 3:6-7 after choosing to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which led them to try to hide from God’s Presence in the garden...The fear and shame were symptoms of something larger. They were afraid because they no longer felt connected to God, even though they were still connected to Him. After eating from this tree, their consciousness seemed to shift from the Oneness of God consciousness to the separateness of self consciousness. They shifted from being naked and transparent while knowing they were connected, to being in the same physical condition of nakedness but now feeling shame, disconnected and desiring to hide from each other and from the Presence of God. They told God that they heard His voice and became afraid and ashamed and He asked them who told them that they were naked. He didn’t focus on the symptoms of fear and shame or even the outward manifestation of the fear and shame, which was hiding because that wasn’t the true issue. The issue was how they knew that they were naked. In other words, how did they come to the wrong conclusion that something was wrong with their condition, that something was wrong with them and they weren’t worthy of Connection any longer. The real issue was that the tree of knowledge of good and evil opened their eyes to self consciousness and judging from their own perspective without Him, which is why He didn’t want them to eat from that tree in the first place. The tree of knowledge of good and evil opened the door to condemnation of self and others, which led them to hide and disconnect from God, causing separation and thus is the beginning of unforgiveness. Judgment of self and others separates or divides us because it leads to unforgiveness.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil shifted Adam and Eve’s vision from eternal to temporal, from perfection and righteous to imperfection and unrighteous,
What does this have to do with anxiety, depression and other forms of disease?
Disconnection and disease begins the same way now, as it did in the garden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey, hide and disconnect from God’s Presence. This is when they first opened their fleshly eyes and began to see things differently, judged their condition of being naked as bad based on their new vision, and experienced shame as a result, and decided to hide from God’s Presence. The first disconnection that needs to be restored is the same one that needed to be restored in the garden, the disconnection from God or our spirit. The next disconnection is from ourselves and finally from others. When we’re disconnected from God or Spirit, our earthly relationships with others and ourselves become challenging. The next step after restoring our fellowship with God is to restore our fellowship with ourselves and others. The first restoration makes the other two very simple. The only true peace is in the Connection.
If you’re interested in being part of a pilot 6-week teleconference group learning the principles of Connection that have worked for my clients and I, please send an email and I will add you to the list. There will be a limited and small number of participants to keep the group intimate.
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