by Priscilla Lack
Childhood hurts can be viewed as unimportant. Perhaps we grew up learning to push them far far away. Unfortunately, if we continue to disregard these types of hurts, we often end up letting them influence our current mindsets.
As children, our upbringing naturally becomes part of how we approach life and our relationships as an adult. We see Proverbs 22:6 comes to pass in our lives: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Families usually have house rules. Some of these rules are spoken and some of them are unspoken. Some are healthy and some are unhealthy. Whether spoken or unspoken, healthy or unhealthy, our family rules will influence how we’re trained up.
We also have outside influences – like school, television, neighbors, church, sports, or other organizations. Maybe our family was healthy, but our outside influences weren’t. Regardless, as children we naturally learn to practice what is modeled and taught to us – from inside and outside our home. Subsequent belief systems form within our heart as we observe and practice what we’re taught.
If these influences were demeaning, heartless, chaotic, or perverse; we may have hated what we experienced. Maybe we vowed we’d never do those things when we grew up. Yet, in spite of our inner vows, we may have held on to those beliefs that inadvertently formed within our heart.
Choosing to ignore, stuff, or push away our childhood hurts may end up creating similar circumstances in our current lifestyles that resemble them. Even if we’re unaware of their existence, these past imprints can still affect us.
Continuing in our old childhood rules usually hooks us into relationships that mirror how we’ve been raised. We may gather components from our histories, act them out our present lives, and not be cognizant of it. In some situations, this happens because it feels more familiar. Familiarity can bring comfort even if it’s formerly been distressing.
There’re common characteristics that adult children of dysfunctional families generally carry. If left unchecked, these characteristics can easily arise and impact our in our current ways of relating to God, others, and ourselves.
Here are just a few of these characteristics: 1) Hides true feelings 2) Oblivious to inappropriate behavior 3) Excessive need for control 4) Poor boundaries 5) Hypervigilance 6) Compulsive behaviors 7) Low self-worth 8) Has trouble enjoying life 9) Performance driven 10) Braces for the worst 11) Fear and anxiety 12) Social isolation 13) Self-talk is self-condemning 14) Struggle with intimacy.
When we partner with God to search our hearts, He helps us get in touch with our hidden hurts and our misguided beliefs from childhood. This is so He can restore us. Many times, the Holy Spirit brings us assistance through someone who has walked the journey ahead of us. Supportive people help us keep going when the process feels discouraging. Sometimes, this may include a professional counselor.
Taking on new ways of doing life usually feels uncomfortable. For example, we may find that setting a boundary with someone who is destructive challenges us in ways we hadn’t bargained for. Maybe we stepped out and overcame our fear of confrontation, but later felt guilty and apologized. So, in the process of healing, we are learning the different components of boundaries that will help us keep our limit in place; even if at first we feel guilty.
It’s helpful to remember that lasting change come through practicing new mindsets and behaviors – one day at a time. Character change and retraining our child-heart doesn’t happen in a flash. However, as we make peace with our past and shift our ways of thinking, an internal settledness begins to occur. We begin to see the rewards and feel better.
Unraveling old beliefs that hold our heart in bondage is difficult. But doing so is well worth the journey. Walking in stability is something we can achieve, despite outside circumstances that may feel out of control. Jesus promises He will help us as we abide in Him. He will not leave us as orphans. When we build a heart-to-heart relationship with Him, we are building our inner house upon the Rock. And Christ, the Rock, will hold us steady in His love.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)
© 2023; Priscilla Lack, all rights reserved; photo courtesy of Unsplash.com