As we grow through the formative years of childhood, we typically learn various ways of adapting to adversity. Our true self--the one God placed in us from the very beginning--becomes covered over or even lost, and we start functioning from another identity—our false self. The false self can manifest in a multitude of ways: becoming strong and controlling, or perfectionistic and performance-driven, or passive and compliant, and so on. Many of our addictions stem from living out of our false selves. Our false self is a mask behind which we hide, often unaware that we are hiding. But God desires something very different for us. He is calling us back to his original design for us—our true self and true heart—so we can love more freely, deeply, and effectively and fulfill our destiny that comes from within. Since the younger, childlike parts of ourselves are usually closer to God’s original intent for us, we often use those terms—younger part and childlike part—synonymously for our true self.
One way we suggest for our counselees to help themselves come to God as a child is for them to affirm the child within by writing to him or her. Here is a letter that one of our counselees wrote after realizing his lack of love or care for himself and its impact on his life as an adult (shared with permission):
(To listen to an audio version of this letter, click HERE, then download and play)
First of all, I want you to know that I am sorry for keeping you so hidden—hidden from me and those I love. God’s special and unique design of who I am is hidden in you, my true child self. I need you. I need you in order to be whole. I thought we would be better off if I just closed you off and shut you down. I was embarrassed by your feelings. I didn’t understand that children just feel. I decided I didn’t need feelings, but I was wrong. I know you felt helpless to defend yourself, so you turned to anger to scare off anyone who would shame you. I remember getting so mad and acting so mean to get others to leave me alone. But now I have been alone too long and I don’t want to live like that anymore. My wife and my children are tired of my anger. We have learned to push away the very people we love the most. I lost so much when I abandoned you, and I am not willing to lose my family too.
I am sorry for being so harsh and ugly to you—the tender places in my heart. Will you forgive me for not loving and caring for you? I promise not to beat you down. I will let you have your rightful place inside of me so we can be one. I was not able to identify and process the emotions properly, so I did the only thing I knew to do to protect my soft heart—I created a hard shell around it. But that shell has kept others out of our lives and at arm’s length. I have asked our Father to remove that shell and make us soft and pliable again. He is our defense now. We can just rest and learn to BE. I lay down all my efforts to have all the answers and defend myself. I see now that my angry, hard self was just a pointer to a little boy who was hurting and scared. I want you to know we can make it together. There is much I want to learn from you. If the Father says, “Come as a child,” then I trust His Word and trust you to take me where I need to go to meet Him face-to-face. Thanks for coming back home.
I love you,
Sam (the adult)
Pray with us: Jesus, you reveal your Father’s heart. I want my heart to be in agreement with you and your Father about the child inside me. I want to be healed and whole—every part of me—and I invite you to reveal where this child was wounded and bring your healing love to those places.
(Excerpt from our book, "The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself - New Expanded Edition")
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BOOKS AND MEDIA: "Loving God, Loving Myself" and our Expanded Edition of "The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself," are available at jerryanddenisebasel.com and Amazon.com.
COUNSELING MINISTRY: If you or anyone you know is in need of finding a safe place for emotional and/or spiritual healing and restoration, please contact us at The Father's Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry. Check out our web site at fathersheart.com or email us directly at email@example.com. We are located in the North Georgia Mountains in a retreat-like setting and counsel individuals or couples for periods of two to five-days in length.