Ever wonder if your childhood trauma is getting in the way of the life you want?
It’s a thing.
Undealt with “stuff” from our childhood damages our sense of identity. It’s normal for kids to look to parents to tell them who they are, but we really needed help looking toward God for that definition. Regardless, the power to change and create the life we want is within us if we have accepted Christ, we have a new identity!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new
I don’t mean to imply for a single second that overcoming childhood trauma is simple or easy, but I do want to say it is worth doing.
Seventeen-year-old Matt raced through the darkened suburban streets, boxing gloves slung around his neck. The championship trophy on the seat next to him radiated like pure gold. Corner lights guided his way until he burst through their front door and shouted:
“MOM!!! I won! I won!” Matt danced around the living room and into the kitchen where his mother was cleaning up the dishes.
“That’s wonderful Matt. I’m so proud of you.” She hugged her son close wanting him to know how much she loved him even though she hadn’t been able to be there for the big match.
“Would you look at that, Meg,” his father grumbled as he leaned against the kitchen wall.
“How exactly does he think he’s going to make a living at boxing? How is that going to pay the bills?”
Awkward silence filled the room. Anger and resentment burned in Matt’s heart, flushing his neck and cheeks, but he knew better than to argue with his father, a man who had worked in hard manual labor long before he was Matt’s age.
His father’s scowl and piercing eyes punctured the silence nearly audibly. “Exactly. It’s not.”
“Frank. He’s not saying this is his life’s ambition. But he’s passionate about boxing – and he’s clearly exceptionally good at it.” Meg smiled at her oldest son. Frank glared at her.
“That’s fine, Meg. When he’s thirty and has no job, you can support him.” He stomped off into the living room to finish watching his T.V. show.
Meg looked at Matt with a parent’s heart of empathy. He tried so hard to win his father’s approval, but Frank rarely had a word of praise for any of their children. He was a good man deep down but was passing on to his children what his own father had done to him.
“Matt…” she began.
“It’s okay, Mom. Goodnight.”
Back in his room, Matt threw his boxing gloves and trophy into the trash. He had dreamed of being a prizefighter, but he knew what his Dad said was true and it was time he accepted it.
He would never make a living doing what he loved. That night, Matt resigned himself to pursue something more practical.
Ten years later, at age 27, Matt realized he had betrayed himself that night. Now age stood in the way of his shattered dream, and while he couldn’t go back in time, he could choose to move forward differently. Matt apologized to his wife and three-year-old son for being argumentative and disagreeable, especially around his son’s love of cars. He had no idea if it would ever amount to anything, but he saw his father’s criticism seeping into interactions with his own boy, judging him. He saw his lack of support for his wife’s real estate career as being about his lack of pursuit of his own dreams. He knew these things were damaging his family.
Realizing he had unfinished business, Matt prayed his way through his loss of identity. “God, forgive me for not stepping into who I was and letting my dad’s words decide my future for me. Forgive me for not listening to You, and forgive me for blaming my parents for my own lack of resolve. Help me support my son and wife the way they are wired, the way You made them. Help me encourage them instead of tearing them down. Please get rid of this critical spirit within me, and the focus on what I don’t have. Help me pursue this new love of carpentry and help me provide for my family. Help me be the man you are calling me to be. In the name and identity of Jesus I pray, Amen and amen.”
Until we actively choose to reach out to the Creator and step into the identity of who He says we are, we give our past permission to define us.
In prayer, take a few moments to examine your childhood. Think about the joy certain activities brought, and the achievements you had. Consider the way God created you, including the things you are good at, the skills you have, the natural interests you developed, the talents and gifting He specifically gave you. Resist the temptation to follow the brain’s natural blame and protection cycles. Focus on the good, the strengths and talents you had. Perhaps you even take these things for granted because they come so easily to you. We often don’t value our talents because they come so easily. No matter how small something may seem to you, take a moment to be thankful for how you are made.
What about You?
- What is God revealing to you about how He made you?
- Where do you need to extend grace to and forgive yourself?
- Where do you need to extend grace to and forgive your parents?
- If you could step into who you really are, what gifts, talents, skills, wiring, etc., would you explore first and how?
- What is ONE STEP you can take to move forward in living as who you really are?
Dare you to share what God’s revealing to YOU about your childhood or parenting today!
Love to you,
PS – If you want a community to grow with, we have openings in our Strength & Dignity Wives online eCourse – STOP being stuck in your relationships. Sign up today!
NOTE: I want to apologize to our readers who may be offended in any way by the story. It was one submitted to me for use here, and I’d like to make the point that either father or mother could be the “critical one” in the relationship. I don’t mean to stereotype or offend by what was submitted. Please know you can submit your own stories for consideration in future blog posts (you don’t need the whole lesson, just the story) by contacting me here.