Where does this ache in the human soul come from? We all have it. Why are there feelings inside of me and they remind me of when I was 10? I'm behaving like it. I seem to be so critical of myself, then I can advocate for others so well, but why not for myself? I'm awful (this is shame speaking). These questions are deep and come from the heart and recesses of the mind. We long to be the beloved, to be the hero, to be noticed. When the passions (emotions) are in the proper place in the gas tank and not as the computer control center (rocket analogy), they are the fuel that help inform and direct our intellect and will.
So why do I avoid my emotions? Or why do I explode with anger? Why haven't I cried for 13 years? These questions are complex and tailored to each person's story. However, take a minute to be mindful of this question: what happens inside of you, right now, when you pull up a picture in your mind (or an actual picture from an old school photo album) of yourself when you were 6? 10? 14? We'll get back to this question, but first let's start with two of the three parts of the psyche. One is the critic and the other is the advocate. When healthy, the critic manages our behavior, guilts us (not shames) when we mess up and keeps an eye out for danger. The advocate ensures that our prayer life, self care and coping skills are in tact and then turns outward to love others and strengthen them. These two parts can become compromised due to hurts in life and our own sin, however let's continue to focus on health.
The third part of the psyche is the child within, alluded to when asked to picture yourself at age 6. These are the vulnerable feelings that arise during the day, the playful part of us, the part that sees a baby and wants to coo or the part that sees a forest and wants to build a tree fort. This is the part that longs for connection, relationship and sexual wholeness. It's the cry of childhood, “Where are my parents?” Hopefully close, attentive and loving; with discipline, rules and boundaries. As adults, it cries out to our spouse, “I need you and I want to give myself to you, to be your hero.” And we cry out to the Father, as a beloved son or daughter, “Do you see me, know me and forgive me?” He has an answer for that, but I'll let you encounter Him with it. This needy, not quite whole, child inside is quite lovable. But if you find yourself alienated from him, or worse yet, if you hate her, then ask 'why'? Where are you stuck and where did he get lost?
These three parts are redeemed by the Holy Trinity. The Father wants to transform your critic to be more gentle, yet hold you responsible in a healthy way, not as a tyrant. He wants you to hear the Father's voice, one of strength, calm and directness. The Holy Spirit wants to be your advocate and He wants you to advocate for yourself, as well as others. Then there's Jesus, the God Man. He was a child. He felt every deep emotion and longing and heart ache we have ever felt. He just might want to help you encounter that child within, to make you more human, stronger and whole. Do not be afraid. Wake Jesus up in your boat and invite Him into your story.
Michael Ciaccio MS, LPC, SATP