Now go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who don’t have enough. Today is holy to our Lord, so don’t be sad. The joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.”
OK, I understand that God creates us out of joy and for joy, then what happens if a baby isn’t raised in a high-joy environment?
Related to all of this joy emphasis is strength. When a baby is growing a joyful brain, a baby is becoming strong. A baby learns to return quickly to joy from upset. In fact, a key indicator of future mental health is how quickly a baby is able to return to joy from upset. How fast she can calm down after being upset.
The movie, Inside Out has a very good picture of the way God wires our brain. A young girl Riley is the center of the movie. Or at least her brain is. Riley’s emotions are portrayed are Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Disgust. Joy is in charge.
As long as Joy has the upper hand more than the others, Riley thrives.
God creates babies to be raised in an high-joy environment. But when this does not occur, when babies are raised where fear or anger is the ongoing emotional environment of the household, then the child’s brain is underdeveloped at this key time off growth. When a baby does not see joy on his mother’s face consistently during this crucial time of his life, the baby becomes full of fear. If the baby becomes bonded to someone who is consistently experiencing fear, anger, sadness, or distress, for instance, the baby becomes distressed and will learn to watch for threats instead of seeking joy. This is then wired as the “normal” state of the brain rather than joy.
There is a big challenge here. Emotions come from the part of our brain called the fast track, where signals move so fast we are not conscious of them. They happen automatically. This is fine if joy is you normal state. But, if any of the negative emotions are our dominant normal state, it is not helpful. Here is a quote from Joy Starts Here.
Sadly, many of us experience life with low-joy. We grew up in families in which joy was missing, weak, or limited. In these low-joy environments our brain is organized around anxiety, fear, and the avoidance of pain. The absence of joy and the presence of anxiety just seemed normal. We were easily overwhelmed when things went wrong, and found it hard to recover from disappointments and distress. We felt trapped in negative emotions.” (Joy Starts Here, pg.20).
What does it mean to you to realize when Jesus is in our lives we are a “new creation?”