Random Blog Clay Feet: December 29, 2007
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Balancing the Brain

Sometimes I may give the impression that I think the left brain is nearly useless except for getting in the way of true spirituality. While it is true that it is in the way much of the time it is also true that it has a very important part to play in living a life in close connection with God.

As I observe, learn and try to put into practice the continually new things I am learning in this area, I try to understand and evaluate what is going on inside of my own head. I try to see what improves my relationships, not only with God but with others and what is a detriment to those relationships. That very process of analysis is a function of my left brain trying to understand my right brain better or learn what I should try to avoid.

As I ponder whether this is helpful in my experience or a hindrance I am coming to believe that my left brain needs updating just as much as my right brain needs healing so that they can both work together in perfect harmony and in support of each other. I believe this is God's goal in the plan of salvation, to restore us to a healthy state of balance and cooperation, not only within our own heads but by extension within the body of fellowship with others and with our Creator.

I think that one of the important roles of the left brain is to provide permissions so that other things are allowed to take place in the mind. When the left brain attempts to dominate and control everything that goes on in our life and does not allow the heart to be free to function as it is supposed to, then the heart and mind are in continual conflict and tension and we experience pain, turmoil and increasing levels of stress. The same can be true if the emotions are allowed to run rampant without any restrictions and there is no respect for the intellectual structures and mental understandings of the left brain. It is often seen as a severe swinging from one extreme to the other like a pendulum between very strict control of the life by rigid rules and fanatical conservatism followed by periods of wild abandon to anything that makes one feel good no matter what the consequences. I see this played out in more or less intensity in the lives of many people and realize that it is a problem of immaturity and failure of the left and right brain to come into mutual respect and cooperation under the guidance of the Spirit of God.

Some conclude from these observations that the answer is to suppress the heart and emotions altogether so that they will not mar the life and reputation. But that is one of Satan's logical-sounding lies that is easily snapped up by people who are afraid of suffering more pain and just want to hide and bury the pain they already carry. They harden their heart with an ever-thickening wall around it and end up trusting their wall to protect them instead of trusting Christ to heal them. Their heart becomes harder and harder in what they believe is firmness of resolution and determination to stand for right though the heavens fall. But hardness of heart is Satan's counterfeit for living under the shadow of the Almighty and resting in His love and learning to live from the heart of flesh that God wants to give us. (Eze. 36:26, 27)

What I am starting to realize in regards to the proper function of my left brain is that I need to continually update the beliefs held in that part of my mind as I observe and respect the things that both my own heart is trying to tell me and that I am learning from others and from God about the proper role of the heart in my life. But while the left brain needs constant updating and revision, it also has to resist using that information to seize the control of my life that properly needs to originate in the heart. Most of the problems in my relationships with others is caused by trying to figure out logically what to do without allowing a healed heart guided by the spirit to do what it can do so much better naturally.

Living from the head is very exhausting work and leaves me feeling very empty in the end. It also leaves my heart feeling very dissatisfied with the results but the left brain usually just ends up rationalizing and justifying itself as to why it should always remain in control. But this only betrays the addiction to power and control that is a legacy of sin in my life. It is the sinful flesh inside of me that is always offering a very plausible left-brain solution to every situation to fix every problem. But those solutions always end up being wrong, even if only slightly so. And that makes the deception all the more powerful, because then my left brain and flesh believe that with just a little more practice I can finally get the right answer in place and be able to figure out the right formulas to live successfully. This is the quicksand of the flesh that entraps us. We need to look to a power outside and beyond ourselves that will grasp us by the heart to lift us out of this desperate condition before we are consumed by the pride and independence the permeates every cell of our brains.

The problem that I am seeing is that if the left brain does not believe that the right brain, the heart, can be trusted in any given situation, it will usually wrest the controls away from it and try to live life from an independent, intellectual approach without regard to the suggestions or needs of the heart. For the heart to really function and thrive as God intended for it to do, the left brain has to relinquish its stranglehold on the control of the life and give conscious permission for the heart to experiment, make mistakes and begin to grow and mature. This is very frightening for most of us and as a result we often label it as heresy or any number of other labels designed to keep all control in the left brain.

But we are designed to live a balanced life where the left brain respects and submits to the proper role of the right brain by giving permission and freedom for it to fulfill its place while the right brain respects and utilizes the knowledge and resources of the left brain and respects its warnings when our emotions overwhelm our maturity level and capacity to remember who we really are.

As our heart receives more and more healing it can begin to mature and strengthen and flourish as the part of us where we can experience and enjoy the dynamic, enriching presence of God and the fellowship with others that we were designed to enjoy. And as our mind continually submits to new revelations of truth both from outside and from realities accepted from our own spirit, it will better work in tandem with the heart very much like an exciting, dynamic couple in a closely bonded love relationship.

James says that a double-minded person is unstable in all their ways. When our heart and left brain are constantly fighting for control of our life the results are always instability and inner pain. There is often a great deal of guilt felt in the life whether it is obvious or is repressed to subconsciousness. For guilt is simply a description of the tension naturally felt when the left and right brain are not in agreement and respectful cooperation with each other.

I am beginning to believe that the repeated injunctions given to us both in Ephesians and in 1 Peter to submit to each other in love is a direct parallel or maybe even a synonym for this idea of giving permission. Submission involves trusting and respecting another's abilities and intentions and relinquishing control in some way and giving them access to vulnerable areas of our heart. This is a crucial lesson that has to be learned at all levels of our existence, from the two halves of our brain learning to cooperate through our marriage relationships to our dealings with others in the body of Christ as well as our relationship with God.

God wants to heal us from all our dysfunction and bring us back into the perfect balance of the children of God. This involves the radical updating of our left-brain opinions and beliefs as well as the healing of our right-brain based lies embedded in many of our painful memories that cause us to have so many triggers for negative emotional reactions. God's work of salvation is the process of bringing both sides of our brain into submission and a state of humility so that they can begin to thrive and grow together into the proper functions for which they were originally designed to perform. And as we learn to experience more unity within our own minds we will likely begin to see a corresponding increase of unity in other relationships as well.

I am starting to experience hints of this in my own experience as I am going through various stages of healing and seeing some of my relationships improve correspondingly. It is encouraging though I wish it could speed up many times. But God is interested in doing a thorough work in me, not just a whitewash job, and so He takes all the time and trials necessary to finish the work He started in me to bring it to full maturity and completion. I'm glad He is the one in charge and I trust Him to keep me in His hands during the whole process.