7. Tracy: Brain Function Score Card

First an apology.  My schedule this spring has run away from me, so there has been a lot of communication from Tracy that has not made it into the blog yet.  We are here picking up a conversation that has been suffering from benign neglect.

In the last blog about Tracy’s pursuit of intimacy with God, I suggested she sort her pleasure points into categories.  Going back to the beginning of this project, my assumption was that we had to deal with spirit, soul and body.  Each had to own a part of Tracy not being able to feel the love of God the way she hears others experiencing.

I choose to start with the body, because we are talking about “feeling.”  She knows God loves her in many ways, but the objective is for her to experience God, not just know in a faith way that He loves her.  A person can experience God with their spirit, without any physical involvement, but more commonly, it involves our body.  Feeling is a neurological activity.  So my premise was that Tracy had developed many areas of her brain, but some of the wiring needed for feeling God was underdeveloped.

We looked at where she felt generic soul pleasure.  She made a list, then I asked her to sort the list into categories.

Here is her first run.

Taste and smell

#1        Apple pie

#3       Baked salmon



#2       Fishing

#15      Wide open spaces

#18      Camping

#23     Hiking



#4       Hugs from kids

#19      Company of brothers

#20     Goofy friend


Staying warm

#6       Whirlpool – swimming

#7       Electric mattress cover

#28     Soft warm hoodie


Blessing others

#8       Socks for the homeless

#12      Baking for others

#24     Asking little girls if they are a princess


Pampering myself

#9       Pedicure

#21      Wearing a tiara

#26     Gold colored sandals


My creativity

#11      Ordering seeds to plant from catalogue

#22     Rock garden

#29     Re-decorated bathroom

#31      Deck storage seat


Country living

#13      Fresh cut hayfield

#14      New baby calves

#25     Collecting eggs


Quiet times

#16      Time with God in special chair

#17      Sitting on deck listening to the peaceful silence


Now the question is, “So what?”  How do we get from these functional soul dynamics to a spiritual/emotional/physical connection with God?

I would reorganize these into broader categories.

Try just three.

-Physical gratification

Here I would put the smell of apple pie, the warm hoodie and other things like that.  Clearly her neurological pathways work for experiencing normal pleasure from ordinary stuff in life using the five senses.  No deficits there.

-Emotional gratification

Here I would put planning, like ordering seeds; doing, like hiking and fishing; savoring, like the wide open spaces.  Her soul seems to be in very good shape.  She can enjoy things that come to her, like seeing a newly mowed field, or she can plan and pursue an activity that will make her feel good and experience the anticipated pleasure when it happens the way she planned.  Solid stuff.

-Relational gratification

Here you have receiving hugs from kids and giving the title of a princess to a little girl.  Again, a nice range of functional neurological pathways in both receiving and giving.  She may not have a community as diverse or as deeply gratifying as she would like, but her brain is capable of experiencing positive experiences in community, when those community experiences occur.

Now the question is, “So what?”  How do we get from these functional soul dynamics to a spiritual/emotional/physical connection with God?

Here is my point.  Suppose you want to have water in some area of your garden.  You need some pipes to get it there.  The pipes contribute nothing to the growth of a plant.  But you have to have boring, inert pipes in place, before you can possibly have water running in the pipes.  So, we have verified that there are pipes in the brain, and they can carry a signal.

She might be lacking community at the scale she would like, but when a little person runs to her and launches a monster hug at her, the neurology works and she “feels” pleasure from that experience.

To summarize:  she can experience pleasure from her body’s five physical senses.  She can experience the pleasure of giving herself pleasure in cognitive and physical ways.  And she can experience pleasure from community.  The brain is functional in the category of pleasure.

Frankly, I am surprised at this report.  I had expected to find some significant deprivation in the pleasure center of her brain, but that does not seem to be the case.

So the question on the table at this point is what is blocking her from experiencing the spirit, like she experiences the soul?

I will process that with her a bit, in private, then continue the experimentation here on the blog.

Copyright April 2016 by Arthur Burk  Joy SLG Coaching blog

From a bird-song graced spring morning in Austria


  1. Rose Rapp says

    Yes! How is this done? I’m constantly despairing and searching for complete, full intimacy with God.


  2. Kitty Marsh says

    Hi Arthur,

    Just catching up on the Tracy and intimacy with God thread. Just a few thoughts/comments/questions:

    How does one’s own redemptive gift fit into the functionality of spirit, soul and body? I ask this, because as a person with a primary RG of a prophet, I driven more by principle than relationships. For me, my emotion chip can have negligible movement but I’m happy with that because there are principles on how to conduct a human relationship which I follow giving me peace rather than wondering if I’ve spend enough time having coffee with them. My husband is probably a RG of Mercy and I have had to learn to use my emotional chip more intentional than I realised at the beginning of our marriage. My bluntness and directness has had its wounding moments and my desire not to hurt him unintentionally has helped build intimacy through changed actions. That makes me feel good. Analysing love and its expression is hard and I’m not familiar with your tools but just sharing my journey. Many times, my emotions with God come from receiving revelations upon revelations which I’m not sure how to analyse…only that I do feel! Feelings of wow, feelings of lost for words, feelings awe etc. And feelings develop with time with Him alone.

    Then the next question – when I read Romans 12:2 .

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    How is the “renewing” driven from the spirit to the soul and then to the body – with respect to emotions?




    • says

      Kitty, lots of questions in your comment are answered in the Nurture Your Spirit Basic Seminar. You might want to look at that teaching to understand how we see the interface of spirit, soul and body.