At Agape First Ministries, one of the things we talk about and emphasize on regarding SSA and the brain, is how our feelings and emotions affect how we live.
Secular neurologists, brain scientists, have discovered how our feelings which are hard wired in our brains, and how we respond to them.
Let’s see what they have concluded.
They discovered these feelings, and emotions, which are listed as sadness, shame, fear, disgust, anger, and hopelessness, and how they are regulated in our brain.
We know that fear and anger, and not necessarily bad, fear tells us when we are in danger, and anger can tell us when something is unjust.
Proverbs 27:3 says so a man thinketh in his heart so is he.
So just how do our thoughts affect how we live?
God created us with emotions, joy being a main emotion which allows us the opportunity for growth, by being securely attached and connected to godly healthy people, in order for us to grow to fullness as God designed.
We read in Psalm 16 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Joy, which is mentioned throughout Scripture, helps us connect to people. What is the meaning of joy? It can mean someone is glad to be with me,I’m honored and celebrated. Someone likes me.
Joy helps us to feel safely connected, first to Mom and Dad, and in return can feel safely connected to God and others.
But what happens when we experience trauma? What is trauma?
Well first of all it’s important to note that there are two types of trauma: there is absence of good or needed things. Trauma is also experienced with the presence of bad things.
Trauma can set in when there are unresolved issues.
I shall use my own experience to better help you understand.
As a child I had several traumatic experiences, (sexual) abuse, the loss of a parent, and my father shutting down, after the loss of my mother.
Believing I was intrinsically not good enough to be cared for, or protected, I came to several wrong conclusions. When we don’t have answers, our brains will automatically try to figure things out. As mentioned in Building Bounce P.123.” Shame loves to rush in and fill the space between with colorful narratives.”
It goes on to say shame is a disconnector. When we feel shame it sends a Cascade of disconnecting beliefs and emotions that can saturate a person’s whole being and makes you feel detached from your heart, thoughts, feelings, and identity. Shame also sends signals to your true self to hide, which makes you feel even more disconnected from God and others.
I felt disgusted with myself about what I experienced, which was not God’s plan, nor how He felt about me.
Another word we use at Agape First Ministries, is attunement, or, when our emotional needs are noticed, reflected and met. “I see you, I hear you, I understand.”
The absence of having people tuned in to us, results in these negative emotions.
No one in my family seemed to be attuned to me, enough to notice that there was something wrong with me. I began to feel those big 6 things, secular science mentioned in their studies.
So, there I was, trapped in hopelessness, riddled with fear, disgusted with my own body, feeling shame that I was abandoned. I stayed stuck in these feelings.
Had someone been attuned to me they would have helped me to feel safe, joyful, and connected. Rather, my experience overwhelmed my capacity.
At that point my relational circuits, or my capacity to stay connected to others, were turned off.
God, in His goodness, intentionally designed us with this default of shutting down, when things are too painful, and through biblical discipleship, we ought to help others get connected to safe people, as well, become safe ourselves.
I’m sure you’ve experienced overwhelming situations, like there’s so much laundry, I can’t take care of my family,but what happens, when a friend comes over, and decides to help you? You feel relief, like someone cares, and helps you feel not overwhelmed, you can face the challenges before you, becauseyou’re no longer alone.
What happened to me was I remained stuck in these emotions. With no one to help me get reconnected. As a result, I developed dissociative disorder, meaning, I disconnected from myself. I checked out, my relational circuits were all turned off. Remember, shame is a disconnector.
Knowing I needed to feel connected to someone, I found comfort and acceptance with others who were also same sex attracted. How wonderful and lovely it was to meet people like I was! Belonging helps us build resilience, knowing that I belong to a group gives me the security of knowing that I don’t have to go through hardship alone.
However, there was an element that was missing, intimacy. Or as some say “into me see” in order to have intimacy, you have to risk vulnerability, and I didn’t find anyone with “my people” who I could be vulnerable with. Sometimes, I would bring up hurtful memories, only to be looked at as if that was not something we talk about.
Again, I was felt feeling empty and alone. But God had another plan, and that experience was just another stepping stone to real freedom to getting unstuck.
From book Building Bounce
” Bring to Curt Thompson in his book The soul of shame, we have a god-given need to be seen, known and loved for who we are without fear of rejection. However, we each intrinsically understand that the more of me that is exposed to another, the more at risk I am to experiencing pain. That is a conflict that we attempt to solve in a number of ways. We may hide, run, fight, or try to please.
If exposing our weaknesses feels dangerous, we may set out to exterminate vulnerability. We may try to control how others see us, hide away the messy parts. But what if vulnerability isn’t a sign that something is wrong with me? What if it is how I was created? What if God intentionally created us as vulnerable beings because we were never meant to do life on our own? What if we can’t do life without God and without others? What if embracing my vulnerability is actually the bridge that brings the connection my heart has been longing for? We cannot feel loved if we do not feel known, and we cannot feel known if we are not seen.”
By now, I hope you are wondering how I got unstuck? I’m glad you asked.
There are several people in my life who made a HUGE impact on my life.
Beginning with my spiritual mamma at the church where I gave my life to the Lord.
As well, these women showed NO motives to “change” me. Rather, they invested in me, helped me see clearly who Jesus and the Father are.
They didn’t tell me when I wasn’t living right, that’s the job of Holy Spirit, and they trusted Him who began a good work WOULD, in fact complete that work.
They encourage me, they build me up in my faith. They simply loved me right where I was, I never felt like “I wasn’t enough”
LOVE!!! It was the love of Jesus, that shines brilliantly through these women, and love is what transformed my heart to desire to be like Jesus.
The result of this was my new identity in Christ, I had a new group identity. And as Paul wrote in Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
At last, I was connected to the joy of the Father, and connected to joy of being with others who loved me, and cared for me. In that place, I too am becoming like Jesus.