Last weekend Nick and I went to Elizabeth’s house. Her mom and I spent our time together doing girl stuff: shopping, eating, and talking. When we went back to her house I was sitting at the table with Karen and Brian (Elizabeth’s parents) talking about kid stuff and my general (overly?) protective inclinations where my kids are concerned. At some point Karen was up doing laundry and Brian and I continued our conversation. He made an interesting statement to me:
Present passions provide a window to our past wounds.
I commented on what a great quote that was and then he asked me something about if that applied to my present passion – my protective nature. I started telling him how my counselor actually told me that I have a “killer need to protect my children because no one ever protected me as a child.” And, then when he asked me about that I started crying – it was so awkward! I’m a crier – I cry about everything (commercials, movies, other people’s sadness, every evidence my boys are growing up, etc…). But, it was ten times as awkward to start crying in front of Elizabeth’s dad! But, he was great and he asked questions and was very sweet and even said I shouldn’t feel awkward crying. He didn’t shy away from the conversation at all.
What’s interesting is that when I started seeing my counselor I could talk all day long about all kinds of traumatic experiences I had as a child without any emotional reaction and I didn’t even know that was odd. Now, if I talk about it very much it makes me sad. I lived most of my life not letting really sad things make me sad. I had a good conversation with Brian, cut short by the arrival of our teenagers, but good nonetheless. He asked me two questions that I’ve given quite a bit of thought to since our conversation.
* Where do you see Jesus in the pain of your past – your childhood – because he was there!
* And, where in your present passions is Jesus shaping and guiding them?
He believes pursuing these kind of questions makes up a huge chunk of our spiritual journey. I agree!
Where do I see Jesus in the pain of my past? This was really not something I had ever considered. I spent most of the way home from their house thinking on this. I’m writing about all of this so I can look back and remember it.
He made me strong. I didn’t have anyone who helped me through the things that happened to me, and somehow I survived. He made me strong – I found some level of fight in areas where others would have crumbled.
Though I was abused, He protected my body and I wasn’t physically harmed.
He gave me some good friends along the way. They provided what no one else could for many years.
He protected me from drugs and alcohol, which my parents and my peers both abused. Many young people turn to those destructive methods of coping with their troubles, but those things never interested me.
He gave me a creative spirit. I could escape a lot of my burdens when I had an outlet for my creative passions. Even today, being creative is very soothing to my spirit.
He must have been close to me, though I didn’t know Him relationally, I always believed. Faith came easily to me. I don’t think I ever, even in the worst moments of my life, I don’t think I ever questioned a belief in God or his goodness.
He never let go of me. My wounds mattered to Him. They still matter to Him.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? ~Psalm 56:8
I’m sure there are other answers to this question, but these are evidences I’ve come up with thus far of his presence in those painful parts of my childhood.
Where is Jesus shaping and guiding my present passions? That’s such an interesting question! Brian and I really only discussed this one passion of mine – and it’s really only one of several, and some of my responses tie into other passions so I’m trying to isolate answers specific to this one question.
I believe Jesus has given me a passion to protect my children. These boys are a gift to us, and though they truly belong to the Lord, they have been entrusted to us for this time. We do not take our responsibility to them and to the Lord lightly.
In many ways he has provided either me or Steve with instincts about people or situations that have helped us to choose how to best parent our boys.
He has helped me to be strong and unapologetic about our choices for our children. There is a part of my personality that desires to please others, but where my boys are concerned, I don’t really care if what we feel is best for them is popular with anyone else. This has served our children well in many instances where we were able to stand up for what we knew was right when our decisions were criticized by others.
He knows how hard it is for me to trust other people with these children he entrusted me with, and he knows why that is hard for me. He has graciously allowed me to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother. I am certain that this has ministered to my needs as much as it has been a benefit to our children.
He has protected my children from many of the things I fear most.
He is gently challenging me to release this fierce grip I have on my children, and he has made me aware that the sense of control that I feel is false. Because He understands my heart, he lets me hold them in my own sense of safety for a little longer. I know in my head that I can trust God to work all things out, but it is so incredibly hard for me. I have this exercise I try to do where I picture my children in my hand and I try to open my hand and give them fully to the Lord, but it’s almost as if my hand physically won’t open all the way. I know that Jesus understands and He is patient with me and my brokenness. I have to resolve myself to letting go of so many situations – it isn’t easy for me and I am best to take my time and talk myself into accepting things that are out of my control.
This exercise in seeing Jesus through these difficult experiences brought another question for me. Where is Jesus in where I fail to protect my children, in where I have failed my children in spite of my passions? Where is he when I fail?
I often fail to do the very things I want to do, or as Paul says:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ~ Romans 7:15
I am not blinded to my failings. I was brutally abused by one set of my parents (both of my parents are remarried) and many years ago I tried to talk to each of them about it, and they both denied anything ever happened at their hands. It was really difficult for me to reconcile their denial when I have crystal clear memories of their abuse. I am glad that God has not allowed me to believe the lie that I don’t fail – I want to see all of my failings. And I do. There isn’t a soul in this world more keenly aware of my failings than I am. They grieve me deeply and because of that, I’m able to talk to my children and express my grief to them while asking for their forgiveness.
He is changing my heart and giving me a desire for deeper relationship with Him. This greatly benefits my children.
He has given me children with very gracious hearts.
He has built relationships with each of my children that are substantial – unlike anything I had as a child. Their faith is precious and such a comfort to me. When I fail, they have Him.
He is long-suffering with my failings, pouring his grace out over my failings again and again.
So, there are my thoughts on a couple of good questions.
What are your present passions? If they are a window to past wounds, I encourage you to think through these questions as well.