Shriveled Brains and Perfection

I watched a video on social media today by Dr. Huberman on the area of the brain that deals with suffering and doing things we don’t want to do. The premise of the studies he discussed said that every time we do something we don’t feel like or want to do, this part of our brain grows. The data on this is immense and speaks volumes about how we were created to thrive. He brought up two critical points: long-lived people always have this part of their brain significantly developed. Meaning this developed part of their brain never goes away. They are used to suffering and telling themselves no. Dr. Huberman uses the example that every time we don’t eat something we know is wrong for us and remain hungry, this part of the brain grows. Every time you exercise when you don’t feel like it, this part of the brain grows. 

These parallels to the Christian faith are immense. Much of our faith is built on lying our lives down and suffering for the sake of God and others. Taking up your Cross, denying yourselves, and saying yes to God and his holiness. The scriptures couldn’t agree with the science Dr. Huberman elaborates on when it says, 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, or you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

The steadfastness or patience in enduring suffering produces perfection. We grow through it. We find joy through it. There isn’t much joy worth anything preceded by suffering. Too many of us live as if to reduce our lives to as much ease and despair as possible, and in the end, our brains shrink, and we don’t grow. To reduce hardship, we make it…… harder. One of the things Dr. Huberman discussed in the video was that this specific part of the brain in obese people was tremendously underdeveloped. There is a correlation between being obese and not embracing suffering. 

So we must ask ourselves, “What area am I avoiding suffering that’s keeping me from perfection and a shriveled brain?” I do well in physical exercise and study, but I don’t do as well as I would like at saying no to a pair of shoes or being left out of a barbecue. 

Keep in mind that this isn’t for nothing. God didn’t create the world this way to be cruel but created it this way to form us into eternal joy sponges. Right now, we do not have the capacity for the eternal joy of Christ because, as CS Lewis says, “we are still too busy making mud pies in the sand and don’t recognize that God offers a holiday at sea.” (or something like that) 

The increasing idol of comfort grows in American culture. We are suffering less, and consequently, we are missing out on tremendous joy and growth in God. 

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