There is a scientific notion that has caught on in mass culture. In 1961, MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz created a computer program that simulated weather.* Lorenz performed long-term forecasts with this simulation. One day, he made a change to one of a dozen numbers in the simulation used to represent atmospheric conditions. This may not mean anything to most of us, but that one change was in the number .506127 rounded to .506. That one small modification completely altered his long-term forecast. That subtle change in the simulation could amount to the wind displacement of a butterfly’s wings.
Because of this astounding effect, Lorenz wrote a paper in 1972 entitled, “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” In the paper, Lorenz presents a practical flaw. The flaw is that there is no way to determine if the butterfly’s flapping wings caused a tornado, or prevented one. The other issue is that once the butterfly flaps its wings, whatever change happened because of the flutter cannot be undone. In essence, the calculations are so intricate and precise, and there are too many variables involved to determine if an actual tornado was caused by a butterfly’s flapping wing. HOWEVER, the possibility is still there. I encourage you to click on the link in the reference at the bottom of this post to read the entire article about Lorenz.
This concept is a deeply philosophical conversation, but can easily refer us back to our connections with each other. The only difference is the flap of a butterfly’s wings is natural and it will happen regardless of any positive or negative outcomes. It’s not as if the butterfly can decide to flap its wings or not because they will never know the effect they have on nature.
However, in our relationships we have more control over our actions and words than a butterfly does over its wings. It can be argued that one negative word said from a parent to a child in their developmental stage can play a large role in the life of that young one. One careless word spoken from a believer to a non-believer can drive that non-believer further away from God, yet, one intentional word or action showing God’s love can drive that non-believer closer to a relationship with God.
Our daily connections with others can have a lasting influence long after an interaction, a conversation, or a brief encounter with someone. Yet, if we do not practice connecting with others on a regular basis, we will never know WHO or WHAT we could have influenced for good.
WE ARE ALL CONNECTED
For us to truly understand the weight of our responsibility, we need to go back and look at why and how we are connected and the obstacles we face in our relationships that can be overcome, if we grasp the why and how.
Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Going all the way back to the beginning, we know that we were never meant to be alone in this world. Even God saw the need for us to connect in meaningful relationships with others.
Sitting on a plane, in a classroom, in church, at work; standing in a grocery store line, walking in your neighborhood, living in the same town, coming from the same state – ALL of these are starting points that help us to connect with people at the most basic level. They are entryways to relationship. They are connection points. The only thing keeping us from walking through those entryways is a decision.
There is a Research Professor from the University of Houston Graduate College, author and speaker named Brene Brown, who gave a talk regarding her research about connection with others. (Click on the link in the reference section below to view her TED Talk where this information originated). In her talk she says…
Connection is why we are here. It is what gives us purpose in our lives. Connection and the feeling of being connected is biological. (We see this from the passage in Genesis, where God takes the rib from Adam and creates Eve. All of mankind stems from that first creation.) There are two obstacles that can enter into our minds when we reach the entryway to relationship with someone…
- Shame: the fear of connection. This says, if someone gets to know me for what I really am, I will feel shame
- Fear: This says, “I’m not good enough. I’m not handsome enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not knowledgeable enough. I’m not _________ enough.
When we reach the entryway into relationship through a connection point, we need to come to the place where we have to allow ourselves to “be seen”. In other words, it is being vulnerable – excruciating vulnerability. For most of us, vulnerability is a dirty word.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Genesis 2:25 says: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
There was no shame. There was no fear. They were completely vulnerable to the other.
There was what Brene Brown calls a “sense of worthiness, a strong sense of belonging.” Adam and Eve believed they were worthy of love and belonging. For some of us, we have trouble grasping the idea that we are “worthy” of love and belonging. For believers, this should be what drives us to relationship with others, but we allow the feeling of “unworthiness” to rob us of meaningful relationships.
There was a study done at the University of Houston Graduate College that discovered for those who believe they are worthy of love and belonging, they had a sense of courage, compassion and connection with others. They had the courage to be imperfect; the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, and they were able to connect with others as a result of their authenticity in relationship. Those in the study were willing to let go of who they thought they SHOULD BE, in order to BE WHO THEY REALLY ARE to connect with other people. (See reference section and click on link to Brene Brown’s video to hear more).
To get to this point, you need to embrace vulnerability. What makes you vulnerable is makes you beautiful. We ALL are sinful. We ALL need a Savior. We ALL need to confess this need. Vulnerability will be the subject of the next post.
What are your thoughts? Add your comment. Let’s have a discussion about the basic foundation of relationship – connection.
 * Dizikes, Peter. (2014, June 8). The Meaning of the Butterfly. Retrieved June 1, 2014 from http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/06/08/the_meaning_of_the_butterfly/?page=full
 YouTube. (2010, June). Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability#t-19066