THE WHOLE-HEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 2: INTIMACY
What Does Brain Science Tell Us about Relationship?
We are all hungry for relationship. We are wired for it. This part makes me excited! Brain science tells us that we are wired for connection. We require it.
Did you know that if you don’t hold a baby it will not thrive? It needs touch. It also needs to make eye contact with its mother. It needs touch, it needs eye contact, it needs smell – all the senses.
All our senses are so powerful because they’re not just natural – they are supernatural.
Where and what is the joy center?
On the right side of your brain – the right orbitofrontal region of the pre-frontal cortex – is where emotional processing takes place. Your joy center is in this part of your brain – in the very front, just above your right eye. This is your creative center, and it’s also important for personality and memory. This part of your brain has strong connections with all of your senses – sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch.
Now the right orbitofrontal region of your brain is connected to the amygdala – and the amygdala is essential to feel emotions and perceiving other people’s emotions.
Have you ever noticed what babies do? Not intentionally but naturally, they will look at you and smile to get you to smile. Automatically, when we see a baby, our voice gets really high and we smile and show joy because our brain is connecting with that baby’s little brain. We are perceiving the baby’s emotions and the baby is perceiving ours – and we are connecting.
What mistake are a lot of Moms making?
When a baby is breastfeeding and making eye contact with its mother, the brainwaves of baby and mother are synchronizing. The mother’s brain and the baby’s brain are sending these rapid electrical impulses. The baby gets downloads from its mother from eye contact. Their emotions and their heart rate are also synchronizing.
We are designed to have deep interpersonal interactions. And if a baby gets this frequently and early in life, it has a positive effect on learning and attaching with the parent. It affects relationships and the ability to communicate effectively later in life. And eye contact is critical to this process.
That’s why if you know anyone nursing a baby or feeding a baby, tell them to put their phone down. They’ve been doing research on mothers “brexting” – holding and feeding their baby while looking at their cellphone, not at the eyes of their baby. And that’s why babies are having a harder time; they’re not connecting, they’re not getting that joy capacity.
We need that connection. We need human interaction. We need eye contact because we get these signals – this joy that gets released in us. We need real people around us.
Even if we see a stranger – all it takes is one second, and you have six instant communications between you and that other person. If my left eye and your left eye lock-in, in one second, I’ve had six communications between my brain and your brain, whether or not we communicate.
Who has access to the deepest part of my heart?
Our brains require joy. We require that connection. Science says our brain defines joy as when I’m with somebody who likes to be with me, and I don’t have to earn it. We need connection – we need a joyful connection. If you’re in a hostile environment with conflict and arguing – all that tension isn’t just emotional and spiritual – our brain is registering all that stuff. So, we need to have a joyful connection.
That’s why, when we have different layers and levels of intimacy, it’s important to create your social network, and ask yourself, “Who has access to the deepest places of my heart?” How many people? Usually, you can count them on one hand, because we still struggle with shame. We have a hard time opening up because we’ve been wounded, we’ve been betrayed, and because we have our own insecurities, or we believe lies.
How can I grow in that place of intimacy with God?
This ties in with who we are as a whole-hearted leader because we’ve got to grow in that place of intimacy. It starts with intimacy with God, and knowing that He’s good, and actually spending time with Him. And yes, reading the Word.
But there is a way for you to engage with God in listening to prayer, engaging in your sanctified imagination – taking all your senses and giving them to God. With childlike faith, you come before the Father and say, “Your Word says when I ask for bread, You’re not going to give me a stone. I want to dialog with You. I want to interact with You in Your presence.”
The Word says, “Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
How do I “tune in” to the presence of God?
He’s already there. It’s really more like us being those old radios, the ones with antennas, where you have to tune in to get to the right frequency. It’s really about us being able to hear Him.
Guess what? That’s how we register joy in our spirit – when we’re with Him! In His presence is fullness of joy! The joy of the Lord is our strength. We have to connect to that place of joy in God’s presence and growing in our intimacy with Him.
How does thankfulness build my joy capacity?
The first place you can grow in intimacy is in your quiet time, entering into His courts with thanksgiving and praise. Here’s some more brain science for you – when we are thankful, when we’re in that place of gratitude and appreciation – truly, sincerely – we’re in that joy center. That’s where we are.
So, in the same way, that we can connect and build joy capacity by building trusting, safe relationships when we’re really becoming love and loving people, we’re building healthy, secure bonding. In the same way, our brain can do this, our spirit connects with God in that way.
I love how science backs up the Word because God is a God of science – absolutely! Studies have shown that people of faith that are in worship or speaking in tongues are actually setting off the joy center in their brains because we’re built for joy capacity with God. Isn’t that amazing?
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