CELEBRATING INDIVIDUALITY, UNDERSTANDING OUR IDENTITY – WHO ARE YOU?
“When did these feelings start?” Sarah asked. She knew emotions are never solitary, they are always attached to a thought that may be triggered by an experience.
Rachel considered this and then said, “When I came back to school last semester.”
“The semester after your grandmother passed away.” Sarah confirmed. Rachel nodded and rubbed the circle of the watch again.
“You never really said much about her death, I assumed you weren’t that close to her.” Sarah remarked.
Rachel laughed painfully, “Far from it, her passing tore me apart, it still does. It was just too painful to talk about it.”
Sarah, after studying her friend’s expression finally she said, “Tell me about her.”
Rachel started, “She gave the best hugs, those ones that swallowed you up and made you feel safe.” Now staring off in the distance at some yellow wild flowers, she continued, “She brought sunshine everywhere she went. Baking, oh yes, she loved it. She’d always bring banana bread for me on Sundays. She’d always check up on me too,” with this, Sarah saw the sadness return to her friend’s tired face. Rachel started stroking the gold watch again.
Sarah said, “She sounds wonderful. What’s the story with that watch?”
Rachel looked down and slightly shook in nervousness while she slid it off, “Grandma gave it to me.”
She pointed to the engravement on the back and Sarah read the words, “I am loved.”
Sarah looked up and into her friend’s eyes, “Do you believe that?”
“Sometimes,” Rachel admitted.
“Why just sometimes? Don’t you think your family loves you?” Sarah asked.
“Sometimes,” was all she managed to say.
Sarah then asked how things were when she was smaller at home.
Rachel started, “Dad was MIA from the pregnancy, I’ve never met him. My mother started working three months after I was born, taking every overtime she could to provide for Grandma and I. When I got older things remained the same. It almost became a way for her to cope, I guess. She was always so tired, whenever she was home, by the time I started about my day, she fell asleep. Grandma was there but some things I wanted to hear and feel from my mother, you know?
“I understand. Did she ever say anything about your father?” Sarah asked.
“Never, this one time I practically begged, and she said it’s best I not know about him. She said I didn’t need him, and I should just focus on school. Surprisingly, even grandma was silent on the matter. She always has a flash of hurt on her face and then changed the subject,” Rachel responded.
So, when grandma died, with her you lost your sense of belonging and the feeling of being …loved? Sarah asked hesitantly.
Rachel looked down instantly, she thought it was silly of her to feel that way, but she did. Deep down she has been really feeling alone.
“Yes,” she said barely audible.
“How about God?” Sarah asked.
“What about him?” Rachel responded.
“Do you believe He loves you? Sarah answered.
“Sometimes.” Rachel admitted.
Why would Rachel feel this way about God’s love for her? Could it be that her earthly father abandoned her, so she has a hard time accepting that her heavenly father wants to stay? Children form their worldview by age thirteen. You see, when little Rachel saw that her father was absent and her mother was present but emotionally unavailable, it sent a message to her saying, ‘You are not wanted, you are not important and probably no one thinks you are.’ Subsequently, she believed it but is that the truth?
Psalm 139:13-18 shares how carefully and thoughtfully Jesus formed us from the womb. Would someone take the time to create something so detailed and after his/her birth just abandoned them? I think not. We might look like our parents, but we are made in HIS image (Gen. 1:26). Do you know what that means? We are identified with Him, He becomes the source of our identity. Ultimately, what He says and thinks about us has the precedence and He says, “You are loved.”
Healing from Parental Hurt
Rejection, hurt and shame are feelings that we all deal with it. It damages us even more when we experience it from the persons who are supposed to love us the most, especially so early. Healing from this is not a walk in the park, the consolation is however, Jesus heals! Here are six (6) tips on pursuing wholeness:
Acknowledge that You are Hurt
Before you can heal you must acknowledge the wounds. Acknowledge how deeply it hurt, don’t shy away from how overwhelming the pain is. Don’t rush this part either, ask God to uncover them too. It is okay to feel pain, we are emotional creatures and we are made that way for a reason. Your emotions are not your enemy. They are indicators that there is something beneath the surface that needs a little attention whether in the mind or heart.
Be Vulnerable with God
Prayer is much more than making requests or a religious duty. God calls us to relationship. His desire more than anything else is to have communion with you. He wants you to involve him in every area of your life, past, present and future. Tell Him how you have hurt, share your frustration, anger and evil desires if any. My personal testimony is the moments that I have received real deliverance, clarity and comfort has always been in prayer. Be real with Him. Ask him to help you to forgive them. This article from Desiring God may assist you in the process too. Ask Him for help. I can assure you He will. ‘Did er’ a saint find this friend forsake him? Or sinner find that He would not take them? No, not one!’
Find out what the Word says
Faith and hope come by hearing the word of God. What does the bible say about parental hurt? How does God declare himself to be our father? I have linked a few scriptures here. You can share others with me too! Repeat them, remind yourself with flashcards, wallpapers, written text on bathroom mirrors and set email reminders! This principle can be seen in scripture where God told them to put commandments on doorposts and foreheads (Deut. 6:8-9). It might seem silly at first but reminding yourself of the Word fights the lies of the enemy. Strongholds are only torn down intentionally and with much consistent force.
Tell a Friend
Sometimes things get to heavy for us to carry alone and we need help. This person might be your pastor, another leader, youth president or another brother or sister, just ensure these people are sober and not immature. We should share our burdens with each other (Galatians 6:2) that is why we have a community of believers, a family. There is so much power that lies in our tongue. Confession brings healing (James 5:16). I shared a post last year that addressed this in more detail click here to read. They can help you pray, keep you accountable and support you. We need each other.
Confront the Parent/ Parents
Confront doesn’t mean disrespect. The purpose is to bring about restoration of the relationship not just a venting opportunity. Be warned that they might not be repentant and acknowledging this fact is important as a negative response may trigger the emotions you were healing from. Nevertheless, this may lead to closure. I suggest you consider this prayerfully. If you do decide to confront them, find a relaxing environment, bring food, yes! Nothing makes a person feels more at ease than a full stomach. If you are not able to meet with them as highly recommended, give them a call when they are most available. Ease into the topic, don’t avoid it either but state your claims assertively and timely. State that your desire would be to have a better relationship and you would like to discuss how you both can work on improving the relationship. You can look at this too from Desiring God on the matter. This might be insufficient depending on your situation, please reach out to me if you need any further advice. I am here for you.
Fix Your Focus
Always focusing on pain never leads to healing. We are encouraged to deal with them healthily and then let them go. Paul encourages us to forget those things that are behind and reach forth for your new life in Christ. Set your affections on things above i.e. Set your affections on Him. This life is temporary. He is eternal. Will you continue to give them control over your desires, thoughts and actions? Don’t view life through tear stained eyes instead with eyes of hope and love. We can also rest in knowing that we have been adopted in a new family. Pray for a mother/father figure. Paul was Timothy’s father in the gospel.
Your situation may not be as drastic as Rachel, maybe they were just not there for you to talk deeply with, maybe they laughed at a physical or emotional attribute. It is ok if it hurts you. You have a right to your feelings. Do not ignore your emotions rather deal with them as they come. This leads us to our next focus, does traumatic experiences affect how we view ourselves? Will Rachel find out the truth about her father and confront her mother, will she experience healing? We will find out over the next set of posts in this series called Engraved! Below is a sermon from Ravi Zacharias on us bearing the Image of God also the depth and importance of our individuality. Until, next time, remember you are precious.