Mature Class Study, teacher Leslie Crain.
A Swedish photographer took pictures of babies developing in mothers’ wombs. He showed the fingers and feet start out as little clubs. The brain stem, heart, and spinal cord developed. The heart pumped blood and the brain developed for the ability to think. God created the baby but we don’t completely know how. We don’t know why there are so many trees and flowers. Maybe God got bored so he made zinnias and then he made roses. Maybe God was having fun because we’re made in his image. Sometimes we get bored with things so we need something different. People are all different, even identical twins have different things about them. God did it that way for a purpose, because he saw it was very good.
God also created our minds. Everything that happens to us from the time we’re born until the time we die is stored in our minds. Every event has some type of emotion with it and is stored in our bodies. God created us so we have a whole range of feelings or emotions: happiness, pleasure, anticipation, being loved, acceptance, confidence, anger, fear, shame, unworthiness, rejection, sadness. We have all these emotions and feelings connected with all our memories. Everything that happens to us from birth until death makes us who we are. That’s one reason we’re all so different and feel things in different ways. In the same rainstorm under the same umbrella, some might notice all the noise on top. Others notice the splash in the puddle but it’s the same rainstorm. Studies have shown that babies left in a crib and just fed without any personal interaction will fail to thrive and die. Adults who were premature babies left in a hospital incubator with little interaction say they have a feeling of emptiness and reaching for something but never connecting. Toddlers whose moms provide daycare in a safe, healthy environment see strangers who come to their home to leave children. They go away and come later to take the children away. It may cause the little ones to wonder “am I going to be next?” or wonder what’s happening as they process it in their little minds. Normal activities of life and feelings or emotions are stored in our brain.
Leslie was born in 1949. Children in the 50s were trained to be seen and not heard. They weren’t allowed or expected to have an opinion about what happened, were expected to obey quickly, got little positive reinforcement when they did something right, but many times received quick, harsh correction when they disobeyed. Her dad worked swing shift nights so he slept during the day and Leslie was told to be quiet and play quiet. When she was about 8 she woke up one night and felt she really needed her mom. She whispered loudly to call her mom at her parents closed bedroom door. Her mom didn’t answer so she gave up and went to bed feeling she wasn’t important enough for her mom to hear. She didn’t realize she had to talk loud enough to wake up her tired mom or that her mom’s love covered waking her in the night.
When Leslie was 17 and engaged, she and her mom went to a bridal store to pick out her wedding dress. They didn’t talk about what she wanted or liked. The lady brought out a dress and Leslie’s first thought was no, no. Her mom thought it was so cute and asked her to try it on. She tried it and it was very cute but she hated it. Her throat closed up because she had to be quiet and not tell her mother that she didn’t like it. That was storage in her memory and the emotions to be quiet, not talk back or say anything because she might get in trouble. They bought the dress and she was a happy, pretty bride. She got over hating. It wasn’t an ugly dress but that was her perception. It was legitimate to voice her opinion. She knows her mother would have listened, but Leslie couldn’t say a word because the emotions closed off her throat. She didn’t know how to question “why” because she was taught to be quiet. Things that happen in our everyday life affects our spiritual life. For years what she heard from the pulpit or Sunday school class, she just accepted and never questioned about it. She has learned through a lot of work that it’s okay to ask questions. She’s learning, growing, and becoming what she really desires to be, instead of being frozen inside herself. God is there to take care of us and our storage in our everyday lives.
Isaiah 25:1 O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
The Amplified Bible says, You have done miraculous things, Plans formed long, long ago, [fulfilled] with perfect faithfulness.
Isaiah 25:4 (Amplified Classic) For You have been a stronghold for the helpless, A stronghold for the poor in his distress, A shelter from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of tyrants Is like a rainstorm against a wall.
Isaiah 25:8-9 He will swallow up death in victory…God will wipe away tears…and the rebuke of his people shall he take away …And it shall be said…this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us…we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Isaiah 25:8-9 (Amplified Classic) He will swallow up death [and abolish it] for all time. And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, And He will take away the disgrace of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken…said in that day, “Indeed, this is our God for whom we have waited that He would save us…Let us shout for joy and rejoice in His salvation.”
The cortex is the motor skills, thinking, motivation, planning, and part of the brain where we make logical decisions. In the middle part of the brain is where memory and basic emotions are stored. The funny thing about the brain is if your bucket gets tipped over so you can’t talk, your cortex shuts off so you can’t think logically. You can’t think for a little bit when you’re flooded with emotion. God made it that way. That’s why a two-year-old won’t hush if they’re upset so they’re screaming and carrying on. Their thinking, understanding part has shut down in their flood of emotions so they can’t hear us or follow directions to hush. What does that child need? “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That child needs us to hold it on our lap and speak to them calmly: “Let’s take some deep breaths. I know you’re upset. Please, hush now. Tell mama what’s wrong and how you feel.” They learn to regulate their response to emotions as we teach them to pause, take a deep breath, and think about what’s wrong when they’re in the storms. Many of us are much older but are still controlled by our emotions. We don’t know how to control or respond in a good way God has created.
There are 3 self-protection responses when a threat comes – flight, fight, or freeze. These protect you from an event where emotions overwhelm you. Flight is when you want to run away. Fight is that anger that makes you thrash out. Little children fight and scream with their arms and legs kicking to protect themselves from what’s going on. Freeze is the response when you’re upset so you can’t talk about it. You clam up and the words get stuffed so you have a huge block of emotional ice inside. You feel nothing when others are crying, grieving, and upset. Leslie was stunted in her emotional development because of the things she was taught. Those things weren’t wrong but it was the era our parents lived in. They were only doing what they knew. We have learned the way the brain works and how things need to be handled differently to help our storage. When we’re upset, we can pause to identify the problem and let our brain act instead of our emotion. Look at the emotion like an ocean wave that goes to shore. When it’s done, the emotion is processed. It wasn’t put in an icebox to freeze.
The brain also has a spot deep inside that’s for emotions you take care of. The brain takes the emotion from the memory and puts it in a safe place. You’ll always have the memory but it will never affect you emotionally like that again. If the brain doesn’t process our memories and emotions of horrible incidents, they’re in our brains 24-7. That’s when people have mental breakdowns and some never recover. God made our brain so we can function in life and not be ruled by emotions.
We all have buckets and everyone’s is different. Leslie has a bucket to serve snacks to children at the COVE community center. The children are very disrespectful, especially to women because they have little authority in their culture. Leslie’s job is to keep the line going smoothly. Every day she says, “Don’t push. Please, wait and let them have their turn. No you can’t start at the beginning of the line. Please don’t use your fingers. Use the spoons or tongs.” These things are not met with, Yes ma’am. They are met with “no” and glares. There’s a good rule to not run in the COVE. One child was running all the way to the snack bar. When told, Stop. Please don’t run. She kept running as she looked Leslie in the eye. There’s anger in the bucket because Leslie has no control over how they respond. When the girl grabbed something with her hand after being told several times to use the tongs, Leslie made a sound of irritation. For that tiny bit of time her brain shut down and it came out of her mouth immediately. She thought, why did I say that? Was it a carnal reaction? No, it was a storage reaction. The bucket tipped over, the emotion flooded out, it hit the off switch, and something came out of her mouth. Had she previously sat and thought, These kids! Next time somebody does something I’m going to let them have it! No. Sweet water and bitter water don’t come out of the same fountain! She was not angry or upset personally at her. It was the whole situation of the COVE and the girl just happened to be there. Leslie said “I pray every day for this COVE. I pray for the children, for grace. I pray for strength. I ask God to help me show them how a person is supposed to act and respond. I was very embarrassed for that but I had no control. How could I have handled it differently?” Each day after leaving the COVE, she could sit on her couch and say, Okay Leslie, breathe. What happened with the girl staring at her the whole time she was running across the room? What did she feel? She felt disrespected and discounted and she was angry. Those feelings are real. She was so upset that they don’t act differently. Look at the feelings of disrespect. Are the children able to know any different? No, not really. Can they do any different? No, not really. Then that disrespect, that feeling, that emotion, and the bucket are cleaned out of the emotion. So she processes those every day – hurts, anxieties, and not just about the COVE. Maybe she says something to her husband. He says, No, it’s like this. She feels discounted and disrespected because he just bypassed what she thought. If she keeps stuffing those things away, someday he will say something and she will say something to him that isn’t good. In our daily life we can take time with God and the brain he gave us. Pause, breathe, identify, feel, and let it go to shore. Leslie has done work like this with hard things she went through. We have a heavenly Father who loves us so much! He gave us a brain to use that we might better serve him. If our brain is overloaded with emotion, we’re not able to be good workers for him. The enemy will make sure the emotion gets touched in situations so we react to the emotion, instead of thinking and responding in a way that’s helpful.
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
We can handle everyday feelings by being close to God with his help and guidance because he knows just what we need. It takes humility to say to God, I have this emotion, this thing hurts me, and I need help with it. It takes humility to say, God I’m human and what they did really hurt me. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” He wants us to be healthy and used in his kingdom in the best way we can. Part of that is learning how to handle everyday things that happen.
I Peter 5:6-11 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace…called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever…