The woman I am is a result of the girl I was.
The things I saw and how I perceived them, the experiences of my childhood and how they affected me…all of these things have influenced the “sight” and perspective I have today. Some of these experiences were good. Others…not so much. This is true for all of us, I believe. Yet, if God does not lie than all of it works together for the good of those who love Him (and I do desperately)and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
But here’s the thing. I can’t help but to wonder if there is another level of accountability and responsibility to considered. Meaning…it’s easy to say “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” This is often true in the aftermath of a traumatic situation. But I also think that this statement implies a certain lack of the use of wisdom. Yes, some pain is inevitable in this life. Even Christ acknowledges this in scripture (John 16:33) But some pain seems to have been transferred to us by the adults in our lives who used statements like the one I mentioned above to justify or reconcile their actions (or non-actions) against the smallest observers—the children around them.
When it comes to the hurt of the children within our direct reach, there seems to be an unconscious ambivalence. We’ve heard it. Maybe even said it. “They’ll be alright.” But this is not necessarily used as statement of faith but as an escape from the real work that comes with helping children to heal. But “They’ll be alright” is not enough; especially since in recent years, it’s obvious that many of us are not alright. The perceptions that frame our adulthood were, in many cases, shaped by the lack of accountability or consciousness on behalf of the adults that were placed around us. And I DON’T MEAN JUST PARENTS, although I guess they are our first filters. What I really mean is our community. I’m talking about our teachers, pastors, deacons, neighbors, the local police, etc.
Children are always watching adults. They are watching what we say and how we behave. They are observing how we respond to pain—ours and others. They mimic us. And even if you don’t have children of your own, I’m confident that there still is a child watching you. Maybe they see you every morning on the train. Or walking by their daycare center. Wherever. They are looking at you and to you for some intelligence on what it means to be a grown up.
I know I was. As much as I remember Mrs. Randall at Klondike Elementary in Louisville, KY and how great of a 2nd grade teacher she was; how she nurtured my love for writing and reading early on… I also remember the neighbor down the street who used to catch bunnies that would find their way into her yard, put them in a plastic bag, and bang them against a tree. (Yeah. Wonder what that taught me.)
I believe that God gives you an assignment during your stay on earth; a destiny. But I also believe that he gives you the freedom to choose your route. So in hindsight, as I look in the eyes of my three year old self in a yellowed photo from my mother’s house, I wonder if that three year-old Tracey, after being set on an awesome path by God almighty, was sidetracked on her journey and forced onto a detour that would take her on a longer route to her destiny… because of some of the things that she saw around her.
And I’m not even just talking about the traumatic experiences, although many of us have had those as teachers as well. But maybe it was the subtle things that I noticed and then acquired that made a difference in how I chose to live my life once I was old enough to make my own decision. Did the responses made out of fear that I viewed as a child, impact my own responses to similar scenarios? Did the low self-esteem and poor relationships I perceived around me influence my own?
There must be a connection.
Yeah, I know. We can’t change the past. As adults, we are accountable for our actions. We have to let go of the things that may have beset us in our past. But then again…MAYBE I CAN CHANGE THE PAST! I mean, not mine of course. But maybe I can change the past of that three year old that sat next to me in the doctor’s office. Or the little boy who stared unblinkingly at me from the across the room at the restaurant. Maybe I can change the past that they will eventually have by shifting from the woman I am to the woman God initially created me to be.
Yes, it does seem cyclical, doesn’t it? By my surrendering my past and letting go of the negative things I saw or perceived as a child, I can change some present child’s eventual past and positively influence their future.
What do you think?