Here’s the crazy thing. I’m using words to explain something that’s non-verbal. I’m talking about joy. Our “joy center” or joy receptor, if you will, resides in the right side of our brain (technically, the right orbital prefrontal cortex), which is the non-verbal part. Words may lead us to joy, but joy itself can only be experienced.
Where we experience joy, where our brain thinks about what is “me,” is not formed at birth. This part of the brain gets developed during the first 24 months of the baby’s bonding process as the mother bonds with the child through smell, taste, temperature regulation, touch, visual, voice tone, which are all non-verbal. As Dr. Wilder said in his lecture “Developing Joy Strength“:
“All of this is interpreted on the right side of the brain. And words are interpreted on the left side of the brain. If you’ve ever heard someone say to you, “It wasn’t what you said but the tone of your voice…”, what they are saying is that our voice tone didn’t make them feel that you were glad to be with them. Bonding is based on voice tone (or sparkle in our eye), not on words. This is the only thing that motivates children under one year old. This is the difference between the left and right brain interpretation.”
You’ve probably heard about studies done concluding that most communication is non-verbal. The popular figure quoted is that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Regardless of the actual number, these studies, along with our understanding of where joy effects the brain, made me think about how God usually communicates with me. It’s usually a split-second impression of inspiration which I will attempt to put words to afterward, oftentimes very inadequately.
So, I wonder, did God actually download words into my verbal left-brain or did He simply impress something in my right-brain “joy center” and I attempted to use words to describe the experience after the fact? I would say upon reflection that the latter oftentimes seems more true. Now, I believe God can use actual words to communicate with us, but I think the deepest and most inspirational things are non-verbal because our identity and joy centers are much deeper and non-verbal in nature (more on that next time). As the psalmist tells us….
11 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. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)
This is also why the Bible text cannot simply be read to be properly understood. We must undergo Scripture. In other words, we let the Bible study us by applying it to our hearts which is brings about revelation and leads to our transformation.
6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor.4:6 NKJV)
So, my point is this: joy must be experienced. You will not know the fullness of joy and pleasure found in the presence of the Lord unless you’ve actually opened your heart to the possibility and pursued it until it becomes your experience. As Paul said, it’s with the heart one believes. It’s only afterward that we use words to confess what we already know to be true.
10 The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth gives thanks to salvation. (Rom.10:10 TPT)