“I just feel so sad,” a lovely Christian lady confided. Her sadness came from having to witness a close family member’s disappointments and losses. She also felt responsible for every family member’s welfare. “What if an aged uncle didn’t take his medicine on time?” She peppered her concerns with statements of faith, “I know God is faithful, His load is light,” but her countenance showed her faith had not yet lightened her heavy load.
Probing into her past I discovered a childhood of loneliness and emotional abandonment. At a young age, this woman had assumed the role of rescuer. She felt responsible for each family member’s happiness. Now as an adult she still feels that to be a loving daughter, sister, mother or wife, she must carry each one’s burden. If anyone is unhappy, it is her responsibility to feel it and fix it.
I believe familiar situations can awaken old wounds with their roles and emotions. I remember observing Larry counsel a young woman many years ago who was joining a missionary staff and moving across the country without adequate relational or financial support. She had come to Larry because of the fears that had risen after she had accepted this assignment. As I listened to her, I could fully empathize with her need for financial security. Imagine my surprise when I learned that didn’t bother her at all. She was terrified that she would be lonely.
She had been raised in a family where material needs were never an issue. Her father, a prosperous medical doctor, had lavishly provided for his family’s material needs, but had been emotionally absent. Her mother had been emotionally needy. Loneliness was her oldest companion and greatest fear.
I, on the other hand, always felt loved and connected growing up. But when my mother died while I was in high school, my life was turned upside down. My father quickly remarried a woman who let us know how unwelcome we were. I longed for graduation and to be financially independent so I could escape. In my mind, money, or lack of it, kept me tied to a miserable environment.
Now, financial issues can still poke those old wounds. I equate lack of money with those miserable years. It doesn’t matter how often I’ve seen God provide in ways that are truly amazing, when I can’t see how He is going to meet our needs, those old insecurities raise their ugly heads.
Three different women with three different stories and three different types of wounds, but with a common thread. In each case our present pain and fears were rooted in our past not current triggers. Our perspectives not our circumstances caused our angst.
When we over-react with panic and fear, we can be pretty sure an old wound has been tapped. But God promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9 NASB). That means, like the apostle Paul, we can claim God’s all-sufficient grace for those uncomfortable weaknesses.
Our reactions may make sense based on our past. But our past doesn’t tell the whole story. God has given us a new identity with new resources.
Like Paul, we can learn to say, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NASB).
The next time you find yourself feeling tense, sad, or overreacting, ask God if an old wound has been poked. Remember, you are a new person. Then let Him comfort and heal that place of pain. Take a deep breath and receive His love and power again.
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