Have you heard of “the trust molecule”? It’s a hormone scientists have identified that is associated with calmness, security, and bond-building with those we love. The hormone is called oxytocin, and it is released when we experience touch and bonding with family, friends, and even new acquaintances. In other words, our brains are wired for connection — and when it happens, our brain releases a hormone that helps solidify relationships.
But, as all great infomercials remind us: wait, there’s more. Not only does oxytocin encourage relationship-building and a sense of well-being, it also regulates your heart rate, improves social skills, and has even been shown to increase generosity and monogamy! Seriously. You can read more about it in the short article, “The Shalom of Neurochemistry,” by Krispin Mayfield.
I love that word, shalom. And the author of the article on oxytocin, a Christian, believes that this hormone is rooted in God’s gift to us of shalom.
What is shalom? It is peace, well-being, wholeness. Shalom is living with a sense of peace, real peace, with our God and with those in our lives.
Mayfield goes on to write that when we aren’t at peace — when there aren’t healthy relationships in our life — oxytocin isn’t released. And when it isn’t, other hormones rush in to fill the void. And so, we might be more tempted to argue, and thus feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with it. Or pick up the bottle, which fills the empty spaces with dopamine. Or push ahead at work, which brings the double-barrel hormone boost of dopamine and seratonin.
In other words, if there isn’t peace in our lives, we will find ourselves tempted to fill the emptiness with a hormone rush that comes from unhealthy, even sinful, activities. Or, in even other words, when we aren’t at peace with God, with ourselves, and with others, our nature looks for other ways to find peace. But so often, those ways don’t lead to peace, or wholeness, or well-being. Instead, they lead to patterns of brokenness, heartbreak, un-shalom.
You see, your brain’s chemistry confirms that God has made you for shalom. For peace. True peace; deep, abiding, inner peace. The kind that comes from knowing who you are, and Whose you are. But, like all that is lasting and good, it doesn’t come easily. Shalom must be received and pursued. Peace is both gift and goal. And so we strive to know the God of peace, and find Him in each day, and in each relationship.
This Sunday at Fern Creek, we will begin a series on Shalom. We will look at shalom in our work life, in our family life, and in the rhythm of life. Hope to see you there. And when I do, give me a hug or a warm greeting. It will be good for both of us.