Did you see the story about Jack and Chico on the news this week? Both are middle-aged cattle dogs who found themselves at a Denver shelter when their owner tragically and suddenly passed away. But these dogs need to be adopted together. Why? Because Chico has no eyes, and Jack is his seeing-eye dog.
They are inseparable. They depend on each other. Chico can get around some with his memory and sense of smell, but Jack makes Chico's life interesting and beautiful. They take walks together, and Chico follows Jack everywhere. They do life together. They enrich one another's lives. And they are, in many ways, no different from us.
God never meant for us to live in solitude. We too were designed to live in community. Community can even add days to our lives. A landmark UCLA study backs this up. They wanted to learn more about how to relieve stress in women. Anybody dealing with stress!!! In the past, almost all stress studies were done on men. With men, they found that stress triggered a hormonal cascade that revved the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible. The fight or flee response.
But with women they found an entirely different response. The stress hormone released in women buffered the fight or flee response and instead produced a calming effect that resulted in her tending her children or gathering with other women. The call it the tending and befriending response.
They also found that this different response to stress has significant implications for women's health. And this tend and befriend response may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties in women reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. In short, hanging out with women friends helps us live longer.
Another study showed that women who had good friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. Harvard medical school found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical ailments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. The results were so significant, the researchers concluded that not having close friends was as detrimental to health as smoking or carrying extra weight. And women who were widowed, one of the greatest stressors of all, were more likely to survive the experience without physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality if they had a close friend or confidante.
But they also found when women got overly busy with work and family, the first thing to go is friendships with other women. It's a terrible mistake because women are such a great source of strength to on another. We nurture each other. We need to have unpressured space to intersect our lives in meaningful ways. These relationships shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They deepen our spiritual walk with God and help us become the women Jesus wants us to be. So take your vitamins, exercise, and eat healthy, but don't forget regular doses of girl time. You'll live longer, with more days to impact the world for Jesus. Take it from Jack and Chico. Life is better together!