“We can mother ourselves, re-parent ourselves.” It sounds strange but that’s what I told my 17 year old client who was despising his 15 year old self – his younger self that fell in love too hard and too fast, who gave so much away. Who let the relationship define him, as he lost himself. His decisions, along with his will power failed him. The break up was devastating, as he didn’t know who he was without her. He sees this self as weak and insecure and he hates that it’s a part of him. He is angry with the part of him that couldn’t cope or maintain control, the part that turned to the drinks and the drugs to get through.
While sitting on my couch, we offered that part of himself some grace. We put those hard places in the offering plate before God and heard what He had to say. We spent some time re-parenting the 15 year old like Abba would. Just like Abba would with mounds of grace. Mounds of grace like he poured out at Calvary. We spoke to that hated part and told the shamed, weary adolescent boy that he was still loveable despite the bad choices, despite the mistakes. We told him that his brain was still forming and good decisions are hard, especially while making them with no wise voices around and a heart that’s in the clouds. Love really is blind and his 15 year old self couldn’t see the truth. Self control is a fruit of the spirit and at that point, the Holy Spirit was not residing inside him.
During this process, there was grace in his voice, a kindness for himself he had never experienced, a deeper connection with his Savior. He took deeper breaths by the end of session, and his shoulders didn’t hang so low. I am praying his step is a little lighter now that he let part of himself off the hook, took off the noose, loved himself a little, and allowed God’s voice to speak a little louder, instead of his own condemnation.
Jesus is this way with us, the ever-for-us brother, the friend who sees us, despite our sin, our shame, and our self loathing. He is the lifter of the heavy head, the carrier of the one who “shoulds” all over himself and is covered in “if onlys. ” “I should have been wiser, I should have said no, if only I had behaved better….”
Which part of you needs some love today, needs to be mothered or parented with grace? Which part or season of your life do you wish would stay hidden, or do you keep at bay? You know, angry dogs don’t stay quiet long. The bark and the bite just keep getting stronger. That’s a scary thing, to face the part of you that longs to stay hidden, but struggles to stay quiet.
I know because I have just spent some time with those parts of myself. The ones that got depressed, anxious, the ones from the past that didn’t want to get out of bed some mornings, or just fall asleep forever. Yes, I have those parts and I’ve done a good job of keeping them hidden to most. But I believe they have a story to tell and they are part of my story.
I’ve loved on those parts a little lately: The girl that was afraid to make mistakes, afraid to miss out, afraid no one would see her. The girl who so badly wanted to have the affections of others because it meant she was okay, really okay. The girl who made bad choices just to secure that affection. And then the girl who shamed herself into depression for those mistakes.
I’ve been trying to love her well, to let her know she was just doing her best and because of her, I am now closer to God and stronger than ever. Thanks to her, I clung tightly to my Savior because there were days I couldn’t breathe without Him. She forced me to eat the scripture because it was the only bread that would fulfill me. Because of this broken, overwhelmed girl inside me, I understand pain and sorrow. Because of her I know the tenderness of Emmanuel as he met my deepest need. I am thankful and grateful to her for the light of joy I experience because I know what the dark night holds.
My friend says we cannot experience the light unless we are aquainted with darkness. My client has a deeper appreciation for his emotional, spiritual freedom because he experienced the co-dependent slavery of his former relationship. The elation of joy is more powerful if we understand the depths of despair.
When we face the pain of the past, we can more fully appreciate the peace of the present. We have to embrace and love graciously the wounded self, knowing it is just the inevitable part of us, yet so important to the story of who we are becoming. It is the voice of grace that makes us stronger, not the condemning lies that hold us down.
So, I see you old self. I am thankful for all you have taught me and I know you were doing the best you could. I am no longer afraid of you and I will not continue to live in regret over you. I embrace that you are part of my story, but you can take a rest and be quieter now. Go take your position, listening to the loving, gracious voice of Jesus, my brother and God, my father.
“Be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1
Now go friends, and be gracious to yourselves. Go, and be strong through grace.