To look at one’s personal history from a perspective of openness and growth brings freedom for developing creativity in the present.
Progressive awareness has been liberating for me at different phases throughout my life! At this stage, I’m realizing my energy toward writing. I’m drawn to have a clearer picture of God’s blessings and giftedness He’s given me. Paying attention to my upbringing has helped me face insecurity for freedom to create.
I admire people who have been writers all their lives! Although I have about thirty or more journals I’ve kept over the years, I’ve not entrusted my written thoughts to the public until recently. My adult insecurities left over from an unprocessed childhood held me back.
As an elementary student, I remember challenging times of creative tasks such as writing a story and drawing a picture. My six year-old self tried making sense of my dad’s death due to cancer. My family’s move to a new school and new neighborhood left me with obstacles bigger than what first graders were meant to cope with. Grief counselors were unheard of in those days.
I choose to acknowledge my past and own it as part of my story. With continual awareness comes grief over what was missed out on. To process through those losses frees me to live in the moment. In the meantime, I’ve learned to honor the energy I have over my writing.
This story touched me deeply. It’s written by Anonymous, who seems to know me well. If you know this particular Anonymous, please comment so I can thank my good friend.
The Little Boy
Once a little boy went to school. He was quite a little boy and it was quite a big school. But when the little boy found that he could go to his room by walking right in from the door outside, he was happy and the school did not seem quite so big any more.
One morning, when the little boy had been in school awhile, the teacher said: “Today we are going to make a picture.” He liked to make pictures. He could make all kinds: lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats. He took out his box of crayons and began to draw.
But the teacher said: “Wait! It is not time to begin!” She waited until everyone looked ready. “Now,” said the teacher, “we are going to make flowers.”
“Good!” thought the little boy. He liked to make flowers, and he began to make beautiful ones with his pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said, “Wait! And I will show you how.” And it was red, with a green stem. “There,” said the teacher. “Now you may begin.”
The little boy looked at the teacher’s flower. Then he looked at his own flower. He liked his flower better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just turned his paper over and made a flower like the teacher’s. It was red, with a green stem.
On another day, when the little boy had opened the door from the outside all by himself, the teacher said, “Today we are going to make something with clay.”
“Good!” thought the little boy. He liked clay. He could make all kinds of things with clay: snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice, cars and trucks. He began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.
But the teacher said: “Wait! It is not time to begin!” She waited until everyone looked ready. “Now,” said the teacher, “we are going to make a dish.” He liked to make dishes, and he began to make some that were all shapes and sizes.
Then the teacher said: “Wait! I will show you how.” She showed everyone how to make one deep dish. “There,” said the teacher. “Now you may begin.”
The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish. Then he looked at his own. He liked his dishes better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just rolled his clay into a big ball again and made a dish like the teacher’s.
And pretty soon the little boy learned to wait and to watch, and to make things just like the teacher. And pretty soon he didn’t make things of his own anymore.
Then it happened that the little boy and his family moved to another house, in another city, and the little boy had to go to another school. This school was even bigger than the other one. And there was no door from the outside into his room. He had to go up some big steps and walk down a long hall to get to his room.
And the very first day he was there the teacher said, “Today we are going to make a picture.” “Good!” thought the little boy and he waited for the teacher to tell him what to do. But the teacher didn’t say anything; she just walked around the room.
When she came to the little boy, she said, “Don’t you want to make a picture?”
“Yes,” said the little boy. “What are we going to make?”
“I don’t know until you make it,” said the teacher.
“How shall I make it?” asked the little boy.
“Why, any way you like,” said the teacher.
“Any color?” asked the little boy.
“Any color,” said the teacher, “If everyone made the same picture, and used the same colors, how would I know who made what, and which was which?”
“I don’t know,” said the little boy.
And he began to make a red flower with a green stem.
How does the story touch you?
May you have courage to examine your own personal history. Have openness to face the past. Move beyond the losses and discover your giftedness in the present.
Honor God’s design for you. Be willing to face insecurity for freedom to create.
One of my childhood memories was playing school with my dolls and stuffed animals as if they were my students and I was the teacher. I used to dress up my barbie doll in different outfits and played with make-believe scenes of my choosing. Somewhere along the line between my elementary self and my growing adult self, I let go of the fantasy world.
Many adults choose to stop growing in their self awareness and continue to make-believe in real life. Refusing to accept another person’s emotions, opinions, or personhood is like using human beings as wind up toys. Marriages and family relationships are plagued with tension, conflict, and abuse.
It’s easier to judge others who are different. Unspoken rules of “don’t talk, don’t feel, don’t have an opinion if it’s different than mine” are the norm for those who consider family members as objects. Phrases like, “You make me angry” or “It’s all your fault” or “I wouldn’t be this way if you didn’t do that” are all examples of an adult who lives in make-believe. Christian versions may sound like, “God wants you to forgive and forget” or “I’m the head of the house and you’re supposed to submit.”
Accepting responsibility for growth, awareness, and change is missing in one who believes everyone else is to blame for his or her difficult circumstances. Like living as the director of a play, those who manipulate expect individuals to act their part. Family members who express different opinions are seen as obstacles. They are treated as wind-up toys rather than real people with real needs.
I appreciate how Fred Rogers gave young children clarity between his real neighborhood and his neighborhood of make-believe. In one episode of the television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, his pleasant voice respectfully says, “You see, children can grow up to be adults; outside and inside.”
May you embrace the reality of inside growth. Begin to see your partner’s differences as opportunities for self awareness. Consider the relationships closest to you as gifts from God to align with reality about yourself and others. Embrace the value, worth, and dignity of each person you encounter. Recognize Manipulation. Grow up.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. I Corinthians 13:11
“Let’s not ever talk about this again.” Phrases like this may come from a place of shame, vulnerability, or confession, that one person might say to another. Beyond initial relief of openness, the power of shame increases with such boundaries. The one hearing the phrase is left with forbidden territory to process and grow. The relationship suffers. Two walk away with unfinished stories in their minds. One ready to move forward and forget the past. The other needing to make sense of it.
Unfinished business around one’s past cries out for meaning. Without it, others suffer. The undeveloped story shows up in poor parenting, addictions, marital disconnect, and stagnation. Like a slow computer plagued with unnecessary programs running in the background is the person living with unprocessed shame.
I admire Brene Brown’s courage in her Ted Talks presentation exposing her own vulnerability and research on shame. Sarah Polley, in her documentary “Stories We Tell” does a great job of moving beyond the hush of family secrets. What relief it is for me to even write this blogpost about it and be a little vulnerable myself! Living close to truth with a capital “T” for me has been making sense of my own story.
The good, bad, and ugly of our personal stories are not in vain. God never wastes any of our pain. Our lives are meant to be meaningful. So many get stuck in childish interpretations of themselves. That’s why talk therapy is the beginning of healing for many. When I hear, “I’ve never told anyone this before” I think of an imprisoned soul about to be released from the darkness of the cave. Many move beyond the distorted view of themselves, others, and God. That’s the beginning of freedom; to understand that it’s safe to live in the present and let go of the helpless child view interpretations of the past.
Continual dialogue is pathway for personal and relational growth. Dialogue is meeting another in their otherness. Dialogue is permission to process and grow through the story. The story’s events can’t be changed, yet the interpretation can and is meant to be developed. Having meaning to one’s past, accepting God’s forgiveness, and living in divine grace is what it means to live fully in the present.
“Come now, let us settle the matter”, says the Lord . . . Isaiah 1:18
The resurrection of Christ bears potent meaning for me as I reflect on a certain personal breakthrough last Easter Sunday. I’m reminded of the spiritual journey God leads me through. I long to say a whole-hearted, “yes” to His invitations to me. . . of saying good-bye to those things that hold me back from living the full life He continually invites me to.
I notice “now” as I feel the cool morning air. I hear the rhythm and patterns of the woodpecker, and the owls, and the chorus of ducks. The morning is alive with energy. I’m reminded of the fullness of life.
This “now” is framed by my pasts with images of dressing up my young children in their frilly dresses, hats, white gloves, suits and ties. Strewn-out green plastic Easter grass sticky with marshmallow, sugar-coated, yellow chicks are reminders for me of the messiness of life.
I’m thankful for this time of celebration and how this Easter Sunday is framed for me; of the past, and of the now. . . of my time here on earth. . . of this place in history. . . of this stage in life. . . of the perspective I have.
May we be reminded of the fullness of life Christ died to give.