Upon returning from a parenting conference, my husband and I sat down with our kids, and asked them about things we had done that had caused them to feel abandoned, unloved, or betrayed by us.
It was part of the homework.
My son, a seven year-old at the time we asked the question, relayed an incident when he was six. He broke his leg, and he felt like he wasn’t cared for well during the incident. He felt like he wasn’t loved.
I remembered it well. Hearing his little voice say how he felt back then nearly split my heart in half. Of course he was loved, of course we cared for him – but perceptions create reality for those experiencing them. And the enemy is really good at manipulating the thoughts of all of us, especially little kids.
Truth is, I didn’t know at first that he had broken his leg. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and it took a while to get to the bottom of things with the five and seven year-olds involved in the incident. They had run back to their house, and I had to talk with them to get the information about what had happened. It turned out he had a compression fracture, which doesn’t look like a break on the outside – but after a little time had passed and he was still in a ton of pain, we knew he needed to go to the hospital.
It was the first time one of my kids was injured or sick and I wasn’t the one who took him to the doctor.
He ended up at Children’s Hospital ER, with his dad, because I had to go to work. I taught classes at night, and I couldn’t find someone to cover for me. Canceling class was not an option, according to policy, and so I called my husband, held my son while we waited for Daddy to come home, and then through tears, I went to work while Jim took our little boy to the hospital.
And a year later, somewhere inside, he was filtering reality through the lie that I didn’t love him.
He’s much older now, and he knows the truth. I’m thankful that we had the opportunity to work through that incident and shed the light of truth on it. He saw me cut back in the number of hours I worked, even though his dad was the one who watched him while I taught, and now, if you ask him, he will tell you he feels loved by me.
Thing is, we ALL buy lies in our childhood that impact how we do life today. A good friend of mine is a psychologist and family therapist. When her kids all graduated from college, she spent a full day with each of them, and had them write down all the ways they could remember that she had hurt them as they grew up. She then listened to their versions of the incidents, and apologized to them for the hurt they suffered. They were interested in her version of some of the incidents and they learned some truth, but they also felt heard and were able to heal from some of the pain they suffered as children. I think this is a marvelous idea, and will also probably do this.
When I look at my kids’ childhoods, they aren’t perfect. I don’t know any parent who can honestly say they haven’t hurt their kids, even though we’re all out here doing our best. No one gets up in the morning intending to scar their kids for life.
Point is, that it happens anyway. When one of my boys raised his arms, asking me to carry him, and I told him I couldn’t pick him up because I was too sore and pregnant (combination of being 9 months along and having a connective tissue disorder), believed that I didn’t love him anymore in THAT moment. He told me later that he literally heard a voice telling him that the new baby was going to take his place in my heart, that I didn’t have enough love for them both. I remember that moment well, too.
I did everything “according to the books.” I squatted down, made eye contact with him, and told him how much I loved him and how much I wanted to carry him, but I just couldn’t because I was super sore from the baby… and that when the baby finally came out, I’d be able to carry him around again. And I hugged him.
And he still believed otherwise.
He was 3 years old.
I can’t control that junk.
But I can work on the now. And I can walk side by side with the man I married as he encounters his junk, too. We all have it. It’s worth sorting through, painful as it is, with those who love us and those we love.
And today, as we feel privileged to have Focus on the Family talking about The Respect Dare, I’m just thankful for the big mess we all are, together. Focus is an awesome ministry. My kids have grown up listening to Adventures in Odyssey, and benefited from the parenting and marriage advice of Dr. Dobson and his talented staff.
Here’s a photo I took of Mr. Whitaker. 🙂
I know it’s a mural. 🙂 And Whit’s End is a real place – they had to build it because people just started showing up.
When I was in Colorado Springs in October, I had this moment of stunned awe as I realized what the devotion of one man could do for an entire world. You should know he started in radio because he wasn’t about to travel to speak – he had a wife and a family to raise, and he knew God wanted him practicing what He had him teaching.
I love that.
So, we humbly submit today’s Focus on the Family show as we journey together through The Respect Dare. You can click on the image above to hear today’s broadcast. And for what it’s worth, these folks are awesome. They’re the REAL DEAL. And literally everyone I met oozed Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.
And the work they do is really good and honors God, helping His people. We still subscribe to Thriving Family, we check movies, tv, video games, with Pluggedin, we STILL listen to Adventures in Odyssey, and I’ve read a bunch of their books. We’ve listened to gobs of their radio theater productions. There’s tons more, but Focus is awesome, and the gold standard as far as ministries go.
Glad you are on the journey! Hope you’ll subscribe and stick with us as Debbie, Leah, and I work our way through all 40 dares this year.
What about you? What childhood junk is spilling over into your now? Dare you to join us in asking Him to reveal the Truth, and to walk the road toward healing, no matter how hard it is.
Love to you,
Want more? Know we’re inviting you to subscribe to the blog on the sidebar to the right. We’ll never share your email with anyone, for any reason, ever. We’re going to take a look at different contexts as we walk through The Respect Dare. Monday, I’ll blog about the week’s dare as I feel led, and Debbie will talk to parents of tweens and teens. Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll talk about the same dare in different contexts with Leah and Debbie. Subscribe here or on their blogs or both, as Thursday and Friday content will be different for all of us. You can also follow us on Facebook® where there’s tons of additional dialogue, daily tips, and other resources.