Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cultivating a JOY SPOT

“What an ugly day!” A woman I didn’t know scowled as she passed me on the sidewalk as I approached an office building this morning. Her remark caught me by surprise. I didn’t have time to respond as she hurried past. Well, it certainly was foggy and misty and bone-chilling, but it was still a day to celebrate as a gift from our generous God.

I thought of the iPhone photo of my two month old great-grandbaby that my granddaughter Kara sent to my computer this morning. I had just time enough to reply to her before driving off on an errand.

“That smiley picture of Makenna you sent is a treasure! It brightened this gray day like a ray of sunshine. I have to tell you about a program I saw on TV last week. A medical doctor was telling about the importance of nourishing the JOY SPOT in a baby! He claimed that there is actually a JOY SPOT located in the brain of a baby that needs special attention during the first three months of life. If it neglected, the child will be deprived of emotional health, and the effects could last for a lifetime.

The point was that parents should try to make a baby smile and laugh and respond to their own facial expressions and sweet talk as much as possible, and as early as possible. When an infant smiles and coos and gestures, it is said to actually affect the baby's physical health in a positive way. It can ward off illnesses and speed up overall growth. You can grow your own happy baby!

In contrast, a grouchy, frustrated, even sometimes angry, or unhappy parent will be reflected in the baby’s emotions and features just like looking in a mirror. A baby can in reality feel love in the room and be nurtured by it. Or suffer for lack of it. The tone and level of voices around her affects her response. Touch, of course, has a lot to do with it; the more you lovingly cuddle and caress a baby, the healthier she will be. Rough handling and impatient treatment only aggravate a fussy, restless, or crying child.

Well, a lot of this is just common sense, isn’t it Kara? Nevertheless it is backed up by psychologists and doctors and caregivers. I’m guessing that you know all about this since your academic field has been psychological research. It’s never too late to work on that JOY SPOT in anyone’s life—child, sibling, spouse, parent, or senior adult. The Scripture says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” And “The JOY of the Lord is your strength.”

I think you and Brian as parents, and the rest of our doting family and friends, are doing a great job of nurturing Makenna's JOY SPOT. Wait until she giggles and belly laughs—the rest of us will join our JOY SPOTS with hers for a healthy, group laugh fest!

The frowning lady on the sidewalk who was having an ugly morning? Perhaps she needs her JOY SPOT attended to. Sadly, she might be going through some tough times. I wish I could rewind our encounter so I could have thought of a response that would have brought her some sunshine. “Lord, You know who she is, where she is right now, and what condition her JOY SPOT is in. Nurture it please!”


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