In a broken world, it’s inevitable that tender hearts will be wounded. Wounding can come through insensitive or sinful actions of others, as a result of our own choices, or through disappointment or suffering that are common in a fallen world. God allows wounding for reasons we may never know.
Children especially are very vulnerable when they are wounded emotionally or physically. They’re often not allowed to express their emotions. They can easily be silenced by well-meaning parents, shame, fear, threats, perceived outcomes, or any number of things. We’ve all experienced this. Often parents aren’t even aware of their child’s wounding, but the mind remembers.
Recently we covered the power of words to heal and mend. This week we are going to talk about woundedness in our own hearts and how to become more empathetic toward our younger selves. My hope is that through this process you’ll become more empathetic toward your kids, building safety and trust for conversations about sensitive topics like sexuality.
Through therapy I’ve learned that it’s often not the trauma (or wounding) itself that causes the most damage, but the beliefs we walk away from the trauma with. Rooting out lies or misguided beliefs is so important, for both children and adults.
A couple of years ago I began talking with a therapist about some of my deep soul wounds. She reminded me that little Anne still lives within me and that her voice matters even now. I learned the value of giving that younger version of myself the chance to speak, to say now what she couldn’t say then.
Though it felt a little awkward at first, younger Anne and I began to take walks together. I would ask her to tell me how it felt when a certain incident happened all those years ago. Emotions can be stifled or silenced in a vulnerable moment, but the long-lasting memory of an event often reveals its significance.
When I was about three, I was riding an escalator with my dad. I felt safe holding his hand. Imagine my horror when I looked up, not into my dad’s eyes, but into the eyes of a stranger. The hand I was holding was not my father’s! Thankfully, my dad was right behind me enjoying the cuteness of the moment. While my terror quickly subsided, the memory has stayed with me for decades.
This was one of many incidents I processed with my younger self. Some were from my teen years, others from my years as a young mom, and some were much more personal in nature. All were significant.
As younger Anne and I walked and talked (she talked, I listened), I resisted the urge to chide or instruct her or tell her that it would all turn out fine. I listened and responded as if she was standing in front of me, scared, alone, sad, and with limited knowledge or understanding. I acknowledged her emotions. She was just a child (or a teen, or young adult), responding as such, without the advantage of time, maturity, and perspective. We cried therapeutic, healing tears. Her heart became more settled. My adult heart became more compassionate and empathetic. I gave my younger self the gift of listening. I extended grace. Healing began, and peace followed.
I’m not sure what memories are seared in your mind that have left you feeling wounded at a deep level. But I know that there is great harm in keeping things hidden. There’s also great power for healing as we bring hidden things into the light. Perhaps grown-up you and younger you need some time together. Invite God to join you as you talk and listen, and if needed, let emotions flow.
Why is it important to let your younger self be heard now? Because you can’t give away what you don’t have. Kids today need empathy. They need compassion. They need to know how to feel and process their emotions. They need someone to come alongside them as an ally, someone who understands the pain that can come from living in a broken world. They have their own wounds. They will experience more hurt and disappointment in life, and you can listen and let them process their emotions. You can create an atmosphere of compassion and trust in your relationship with them so they’re more likely to turn to you in a vulnerable moment.
I invite you to think back. What memories stand out to you? Which of them are painful, or scary, or shameful? What’s the one thing that you’ve never told anyone? What keeps you up at night, analyzing, wishing you’d done something differently or wishing the regret or memory would go away? Ask God to reveal the deep soul wounds or unresolved pain that you need healing, grace, or perspective for. Ask Him to reveal any identity statements you’ve adopted that don’t reflect His truth but instead are linked to past wounds, mistakes, or words spoken over you.*
Abba Father wants to meet you in your brokenness, regret, pain, or sorrow. There is beauty in our woundedness when it leads us to Jesus. This was the topic of our last post as we considered our Savior on the cross. One look at the scarred hands and feet of Jesus reminds us that this world is broken but that healing and redemption come through Christ’s sacrifice.
Do the hard work of becoming empathetic, forgiving, and understanding – for yourself and for those you love. Enjoy the journey of discovery and let younger you find a listening, empathetic ear in grown-up you. I’d love to hear how your talks go and if God reveals any needed truth along the way!
We are praying for you! And we are cheering you on! Please let us know how we can pray for or encourage you today. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder and CEO, TrueNorth Freedom Project, Atlanta, GA.
*A trained therapist can help you sort through past hurts or regrets. Prayerfully consider whether or not a Christian counselor might be a good next step for you. Also, here’s an earlier blog post in which I share some ways to identify lies attached to soul wounds and how to find truth for them.
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