I queried Tracy in more detail about her experience with intimacy on the social level. Her journey was a bit rougher than I had realized, and the short version is she does not have a track record of fulfilling, trust-based relationships with people. That means that those networks are not in place in the brain for us to use for spiritual intimacy. That is the bad news.
The good news is that we can grow them.
Now, understand that I fully believe that God can intervene in anyone’s brain, and anyone’s life, any time He wants to, with a stupendous invasion of intimacy that is totally effective, no matter how inadequate their brain is. The spirit does not need the brain to connect with God. We pray for that and hope for it. But while we wait for the miracle, we use the principles.
This is an experiment to see if we have enough tools in our kit to connect Tracy to God in an intimate fashion. If we fail, it is not because of her, it is because the Body of Christ worldwide has not developed enough skills.
So let’s begin.
Tracy, there are two areas of your brain that we want to develop. The first is pleasure and then is joy. Pleasure is what you can experience alone as you interface with the natural world. Joy has been defined by Dr. Wilder as the emotion you feel when someone is glad to see you. So joy is dependent on others, and there have been seasons in all of our life when just about no one was glad to see us come – and it doesn’t build the right nerve cluster when they are glad to see us go!
So in those seasons, we turn to the pleasure portion of our brain and begin to vigorously develop our ability to feel intensely those things that feel good. Often intimacy with God begins with shared pleasure. And there are pleasures that people share and some that they don’t.
Megan does not like hot drinks or milk. I, by contrast, love milk and really love my hot chocolate. So while hot chocolate brings me great pleasure, it is not a pleasure we share. On the other hand, we both find pleasure in a finely crafted sentence and can have a certain level of relationship around a shared pleasure, even though that is a lesser thing than joy.
So we develop the pleasure center since it builds a foundation for the joy that is our eventual goal.
We start with pleasure felt by your body, then soul and then – ideally – spirit.
Today is Sunday. I am in the office briefly waiting for my long awaited storm to blow in. It is already raining, but there is no wind, and I want to see the waves and feel the rain stinging in my face as the wind blows. I will leave in less than an hour, seeking a deep pleasure experience in body and soul, and possibly something spiritual to boot.
So my pleasure right now: the sound of rain in the gutter outside my office; the warm wool shirt; the color of the shirt and how it matches my jeans; the sound of my boots on the warehouse floor; the taste of the hot chocolate I am sipping.
Let’s start there for you. See if you can make me a list of 30 things that bring you pleasure. Some will be repetitive, like hot coffee on a cold morning. Others will be occasional like eating strawberries picked on a dewy summer morning.
And, as I pointed out in the PTSD album, there are three steps to building the nerve pathways. Anticipation, being in the moment, and savoring afterwards.
I baked pineapple upside down cake this morning. It is my third attempt to craft a recipe I can live with. I am such a cranky old curmudgeon when it comes to recipes. My way or no way.
I did something new today and am on tiptoe with expectation (inside, at least – physically I am sort of still sitting) to see how it came out. The timer will ding in 3.8 minutes, and I will remove it from the oven and let it cool a few hours before I flip it and taste it. I am anticipating the visual appeal and then the taste and texture in a few hours when I come back from my storm chasing.
Use the tools in the album, build a list of things that bring you pleasure and practice anticipating, being in the moment and then savoring after the fact.
Send me your list, and describe one of each of the three points on the savoring sequence.
From the Hub, listening to the rain
P.S. The visual pleasure was high. I think I might have nailed it. One for the keeper file.