With Mothers Day around the corner, memories of Mom warmed my heart. I was going to share all the wonderful things she did for me that affected my life for the better. But not everyone has warm sensations when thoughts of their parents flood their mind; and there are some memories too painful to dwell on. The key word is dwell. Countless people of all ages have been severely wounded by what happened to them as children. They were injured by what their mother or father did or said, or by what their mother or father neglected to say or do. Whenever a person experiences abuse of any kind, it is the soul (mind, emotions and will) that is the most vulnerable to long-term damage. An injured soul bleeds long after an injured body heals. Oftentimes, inner wounds never heal—especially when covered up and hidden from sight. Pushing things back in our minds does not solve inner issues, it simply retards them. Denial is a common, but often debilitating, coping mechanism. Some people learn to function almost normally in their dysfunction; convincing themselves that everything has healed up just fine—until someone hits a raw spot—and it bleeds all over them. For this reason I believe that a thorough soul-searching for the purpose of eliminating harmful mind-sets is very productive.
Here is a revelation which helped get things in perspective about our parent’s ability to do what they should. Parents are people too. They were raised by people who may have been abusive or too busy to show them any affection. Their parents may have been so tired from making ends meet that they couldn’t muster the energy to nurture anyone…including themselves. They may have been too dysfunctional to teach their children how to function effectively in society; and people pass on what they have learned to their children.
Everyone has flaws. A vital parental role is to help children see their flaws and to help them fix them. This is essential because character flaws limit a person’s potential; flaws also hinder a person’s ability to build good relationships. By the way, constructive criticism is very different than judgment and condemnation. The first is done in love with the person’s good in mind; it is a focus on changing behavior. The other method attacks a person’s character and self-esteem. Everyone has something good in them. Good traits, skills and abilities should be recognized and developed with our parents help. Unfortunately, our parents may not have been raised by people who did this for them; consequently, they did not know how to do this for us. Guess what? The cycle of dysfunction will continue until someone stops it.
Inner problems can’t be fixed by making outside changes— no matter how we try to change our appearance, what we buy, where we move, or the company we choose to keep—our internal bleeding will not stop until we tend to the wound. These external things are bandages that temporarily cover up what lies deep within us. We can’t change how people feel about us; how they think; or what they say or do. And we can’t erase what happened in the past by pretending things didn’t happen.
Feeling twinges of pain from our past means that our wounds have not yet healed. Emotional pain causes us to react in anger and is the source of depression, anxiety, and fear. Wrong emotions are signals that something inside of us is amiss. Open wounds affect reasoning and decision-making abilities; and keep us from communicating effectively with others. And, it makes it almost impossible to love people as we should.
These are common behavior characteristics signaling an inner problem. Now…we all share these feelings to some degree, but when they are a way of life, turmoil results.
- Do you have feelings of low self-esteem that cause you to constantly judge yourself and others?
- Do you always have to be in control, and react in anger and frustration at others if you are not?
- Do you isolate yourself from people?
- Are you willing to do anything to be liked by others?
- Are you easily intimidated by others?
- Do you choose relationships with uncaring or emotionally distant people?
- Do you see yourself as a victim and are attracted to other victims?
- Do you try to solve everyone else’s problems while ignoring your own?
- Do you feel guilty when you stand up for yourself?
- Do you have a hard time remembering portions of your childhood?
- Do you react with panic, anxiety or fear in certain situations, and don’t know why?
- Do you have a hard time getting excited over things?
- Are you terrified of rejection or abandonment?
- Do you often feel hopeless and helpless?
- Do you feel insecure and find it difficult to trust others?
- Do you get emotionally bound up with your partner’s needs and emotions?
- Do you have a hard time finishing what your start?
- Do you settle for less than you deserve because you find it hard to make a decision?
- Do you act impulsively and end up regretting your choices?
Open wounds are painful and interfere with our ability to function properly. The first step toward the healing of damaged emotions is the ability to be honest about the pain we still feel. There are some things that will never be completely forgotten; however, all things can be forgiven with God’s help. And, forgiveness is really for our benefit. It releases us from the grip of something very sinister that is out to consume our peace.