Grace for all the parts…


“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.





Secret Speeches

My grandpa, my mom’s dad, loved to walk. We called him “Poole” and Poole was the fittest grandpa I knew. He loved to exercise, lifting weights and walking the long cement driveway to the road, then heading to the stretch of backyard grass and garden.  Everyday Poole walked, lifted weights and smoked cigars. His walking uniform was a white wife-beater and khaki pants. I spent most school afternoons and long, hot summer days with him, with Poole, my walking, weightlifting grandpa with the wife-beater. Summer days with his feet pounding the earth, rising again for the next step, worn grass, sweat stained shirt. I’d walk with him a little, run a little, trying to keep up. 

My grandparents lived on what seemed to be an acre or two, with a long, flat driveway, great for riding bikes and bouncing balls. The gate opened to the back yard. His path went beyond the back porch, perfect for stringing beans and eating ice cream, past the metal recliner swing, further than the red barn and then into the garden. That was his loop, the driveway, the backyard, the garden,  then all over again. He’d walk and sweat then lift weights. 

While he walked, he recited. He was the speech giver for his group of the Masons, a male fraternity of sorts. On his path, he whispered his secret speeches. None of us were to ever know the words he mumbled, they were just for the men, the Masons. So everyday, Poole walked, and sweat, repeating the verses over and over. Despite how ridiculous they sounded, he kept going, moving forward, saying the lines over and over again, in the heat, down the path, the same path over and over, every day. And it was a secret, the words were secrets. 

I’m not sure why I thought of him recently. I was his first grandchild, and he called me “Doll”. He drove an old red Comet and I was embarrassed when he would pick me up from school in that junky car. Just so embarrassed and I would pretend I had a headache, laying down in the back seat so that none of the kids at my private school would see me. Surely he knew I didn’t have a headache most days. From what I remember, Poole was dedicated and devoted. Dedicated to the Masons, to his routines and to his family. I remember spending many weekend nights with him and my grandmother. He always took  us to get ice cream and would hand me $5 for the toy store at the mall. 

I thought of his walks this week, his walks and his secret speeches, the ones he spoke over and over again. The secret lines he recited day in and day out. I’ve been thinking about my own secret speeches, the words I say to myself, over and over again. They seem to even be part of my routine as my mind goes down the same path. These lines emerge when my world is stressful, or sad.

These words are the ones that no one hears but me because, well, they’ve been secrets. We all have them. Some we know, are there and some we don’t even realize are plaguing us. The lines, beliefs and routine words that have made a path on our hearts, our brains. They aren’t always kind, they aren’t always true, they don’t always make sense. But we continue down the path. I’m finding this same routine to be true more and more with my clients and some friends. We are all a little like Poole, reciting the speeches over and over, despite how ridiculous they sound, we keep walking, moving forward, saying the lines over and over again, down the path, the same path over and over, every day. And some of the words are a secret…because we don’t know why or we are afraid to tell. We are afraid to tell the hard, secret words that make us sweat…

However, I’m less and less afraid of these words lately, these routine speeches that I tell myself. I’m offering more and more of them to God, sharing some with others. I’m even asking God to reveal where they started in the first place. I find that as I pray for more of Him, the speeches are exposed. They have to be because darkness can’t stay when Light has been invited in. Revelation 12:11 tells us we overcome because of Jesus and by the word of our testimony. As much as I see myself like my grandfather, walking the same path, speaking the same secret words over and over, I don’t want to continue. I don’t want to mumble any longer, or keep my speeches hidden. I want to overcome. Don’t you?

A dear friend was sharing her own journey of wholeness with me this week. She said, “The healing came when I wasn’t afraid of anything God might reveal in me.” Now that’s bravery. Would you be willing to be brave like that? To ask for God to reveal the secret speeches? And then to tell someone, a very safe someone, so you could overcome too? 

Oh God, would you unlock the secret speeches in me, the why, the darkness. You are there. Always there in the darkness, in the broken hearted parts and places. I am no longer afraid of the darkness.
Luke 8:17: “
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Daniel 2:22 “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”

You know, Jesus came, placed his feet to earth and walked and walked and walked. He came to replace our secret speeches for his truth and life. And before him, God walked this earth and from the earth, He breathed into dirt, from heaven to the ground, from the ground he brought life, from Breath to breath. Oh God, your Breath in my breath,  breathe on me, breathe into the secrets and their source with your breath, your life in me, heaven in me, your treasure and truth in me. Make me an overcomer.