We are all here on earth to help others;
what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.
—W. H. Auden
The law of entanglement in quantum physics states that relationship is the defining characteristic of everything in space and time. Because of the pervasive nature of the entanglement of atomic particles, the relationship is independent of distance and requires no physical link. In other words, Everything and everyone is linked, and we all affect each other, no matter whether we are near or far away.1
I didn’t take Physics in high school. I’m smarter than that. We had a contest in our home for best grades on report cards and the winner got ten bucks. Back in the 70s, $10 was a lot of money. So, while my sisters and brothers slogged through trigonometry, chemistry and physics, I stuck to what I was good at: art, music, English, creative writing and handball. I got the best grades and won the ten bucks, something my siblings still resent me for. In previous years, I had flunked Algebra and only squeaked by with a D- in Geometry, mainly because I could draw right angles and I liked protractors. (They were interesting. The math was not.) In college, it took me 2-1/2 hours with, literally, tears and sobbing to complete a final exam on Music Theory and it was an open book test!
Physics still escapes me but this law of entanglement intrigues me. I’m reading the book, Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist and audiologist who has worked in the area of cognitive neuroscience since 1985. Her pioneering work on neuroplasticity—that changes in thinking actually change the brain and can effect behavioral change—paved the way for her current research on how scientific principles are supported by Scripture and vice versa.
Dr. Leaf notes that the law of entanglement has a biblical correlation: “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Roman 12:5). She states, “If you are not doing what God put you on this earth to do—your divine sense of purpose—then even though you may not know me, you are still affecting my life. We are all part of God, so this inter-connectedness is not surprising. Your intentions, your prayers, and your words towards others will have impact because of this law.”2
She goes on to affirm, “In fact, we are so entangled that our intentions alter not only our own DNA molecules, but the DNA molecules of others as well.”
Dr. Leaf recounts, “An ingenuous experiment set up by the HeartMath Foundation determined that genuine positive emotion (as reflected by a measure called “heart rate variability”), directed with intentionality toward someone actually changed the way the double-helix DNA strand coils and uncoils. (This goes for both positive and negative emotions and intentions). Other research shows that even 30 seconds a day of direct heartfelt intention will cumulatively alter not only your own destiny, but impact the lives of others in this generation and the next three at least.” 3
So… you’re telling me that all those negative, self-destructive habits and thought patterns I’ve entertained over the years WEREN’T just affecting me, they were affecting others?
You’re telling me that relationship is the defining characteristic of everything and everyone?
You’re telling me that what my great grandparents said and did altered my destiny, and I in turn can alter the destiny of my own kid?
You’re telling me that what I say and do to and for others actually alters their DNA?? And mine?
When you think of it, this has to be true. How many times have we been encouraged and lifted up by a thoughtful word or prayer from someone else? And how many times have we been torn down by a negative word or action against us? How many times have WE been the “tear-er down-er”?
I shudder at that last question. I am guilty. In my narrow, self-centered little addicted world, I have said things to others that have been negative, hurtful and downright mean at times. (To all those I’ve affected, I am truly, truly sorry.) I’ve isolated myself in my house and indulged in altering my mind with chemicals, running away from reality under the guise of “I’m too stressed out! I just need to relax and feel better for awhile. It’s not bothering anyone else.” I’ve spent the last couple months doing a great deal of soul searching and introspection to clean up the cobwebs and make amends.
Scripture backs up the importance of our words: “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” (Proverbs 15:23 New Living Translation)
If words are powerful enough to change DNA molecules, then I resolve to stand in front of my mirror every day and loudly proclaim, “I am slim! I am healthy! I am good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh-darn-it, people like me!”
So what was I put on this earth to do? What is my divine purpose? A good first place to start looking is, where do I see God most at work to benefit others as I live, speak, breathe and move? For me, the Gift of Encouragement & Exhortation seems to operate the most influentially. I can tell because sometimes words come out of my mouth that my brain did not have enough time to think up on its own, and I see the spark of hope in another’s eyes. I see their countenance lift, tears springing from the corners of their eyes and they go away feeling a little bit better about themselves and life. Or perhaps I know just the right Steps One, Two and Three for a person to improve their situation.
And what do others do that seem to affect me most positively? When someone comes to my home to repair something broken or offers a leg up when I am in need (Gift of Helps—Acts of Service), or when someone tells me they are praying for me (Gift of Encouragement & Exhortation). I especially love when a friend or stranger shares a hidden gem of information to help me get through a difficulty (Gift of Wisdom).
Someone once told me a cute illustration about identifying your spiritual gifts (and by spiritual, I mean these are sometimes totally spiritual in nature and other times they inborn physical gifts that are energized by the Spirit to effect change). My memory is sketchy and this is in no way a complete list of the gifts but I think the story goes something like this:
A man gets injured and goes to the hospital. “Gift of Mercy” is the first person to come visit him, bringing balloons and chocolate and telling him how sorry they are that this has happened. Then “Gift of Helps—Acts of Service” calls him to see if he needs his walk shoveled or his mail picked up while he is laid up. “Gift of Giving” pays the hospital bill. “Gift of Faith” and”Gift of Healing” show up together at his bedside and pray for a miraculous healing along with great blessings to follow recovery every step of the way.
“Gift of Administration” seldom darkens the door of the hospital room but calls all the other gifts to delegate duties and time schedules, instructing some of them to take over the injured party’s duties until the victim is back up and running.
“Gift of Word of Knowledge” stops by and says, “You were climbing up a ladder on the north side of your mother’s house to hang Christmas lights and the ground was slippery so you fell, isn’t that right?” Not to be outdone, “Gift of Word of Wisdom” advises, “If you hire someone to hang those lights, you’ll put people to work. The economy will grow and you won’t hurt yourself.”
“Gift of Exhortation” cheers, “You really do a good job hanging Christmas lights. They always look great. Perhaps next time, you might scout out the ground more carefully before you place the ladder, but take your cell phone with so you can call me for help if needed.” “Gift of Teaching” pipes up with, “I’ve researched this and a ladder is best placed so that the horizontal distance between the feet and the top support is 1/4 of the working length of the ladder. The ladder will be leaning at a 75 degree angle from the ground. Make sure the ground is stable and level.” And “Gift of Prophecy” leans in and asks, “Is it sin? Do you have something you need to confess???”
I feel sorry for Prophets. Nobody likes them. But everybody needs them.
We are entangled! This morning, I was thinking about all the people who have prayed for me, especially the last couple years, and feeling grateful. I checked my email and there was a cheerful email from a friend whom I had once harmed with negative words and has since forgiven me completely. Then I felt prompted to call a friend who lives in another state. She was just thinking about me and wanting to talk to me. We had a wonderful conversation filled with encouragement and prayer. I hung up the phone feeling uplifted and brimming with hope. Then at noon, I met up with another friend who confessed she was filled with anxiety and self doubt about her work situation. Because my cup of encouragement was still brimming, it overflowed to her, affirming her gifts and abilities. Her eyes watered and I could see her letting go of some of her fears.
This is what Dr. Leaf is trying to say about this law of entanglement. “If you are not doing what God put you on this earth to do—your divine sense of purpose—then even though you may not know me, you are still affecting my life.”
I want to be doing what God put me on this earth to do. It’s all about relationship. The DNA molecules of others depends on it. And so does mine. We are entangled.
The night sky over Flagstaff
looks bigger than the sky
over the Grand Canyon,
yet the stars seem brighter
from the canyon floor.
It is not the sky, though,
that measures a soul,
for it’s not how high I reach,
but how I touch my world.
The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
(Isaiah 50:4, New Living Translation)
1-2: Switch On Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf; 2013 Baker Books, pg. 110.
3: Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention; Dawson Church, PhD; Energy Psychology Press; 2nd edition (April 5, 2009)