Heel to Toe in Mommy’s Soul

 In Aging, SHIFT

Watch that wobbly little one wiggling into mother’s shoes. Listen to the sound she makes as her heel hits then slides while she tries to keep the shoe in place: klink-slide, klink-slide, klink-slide. It is about the only time in our lives that we are willing, even eager to be just like Mom or Dad. Playing dress up in parents’ clothes is a natural part of growing up.

It seems like, however, that most of the rest of our lives we spend breaking away and declaring our independence from our folks. I wonder if we ever get very far away. No matter how much we kick and scream, the majority of us do resemble our parents. The old expression, “The apple does not fall too far from the tree,” seems true.

Is this a bad thing? I find most of us take on both positive and negative traits of our predecessors. We often find ourselves in the same types of predicaments and destructive relationships as our parents. As I observed my own children mature and set out in life, I have held my breath with anxiety for them on many occasions. I wince at the possibility that they might have to suffer in ways I have. I thought I had warned them.

In observing my own siblings, I find that we all seem to have made mistakes similar to those of our own parents. One of the traits of the women in my family is the tendency to choose men who are very critical of us, seemingly incapable of showing love. All five of us have been divorced, as were our parents.

So why do we do it? We do see the consequences of similar delusions in our parents’ lives, but still we plunge into the same messes. I know the Word talks of the sins of the father (and, if I may, mother) being visited even unto the third generation. I believe there is a spiritual and emotional tendency to walk in our ancestors’ shoes headlong into destruction. What is lacking is a healing, loving separation from our ancestral inheritances.

Trauma in our lives is an injury that requires special attention. When parents do not express love for each other, they often have no love to share with their children, leaving deep gashes in little souls. At some point we have to come to grips with the injury so that we might seek healing. Instead we seem to be walking around with abrasive scar tissue or even festering sores. What aches us tends to drive us. We can fall into the trap of brooding over our untreated wounds. What we focus on tends to direct our paths. Our eyes are continually turned inward with little regard for those about us.

Case in point, one of my kids was trying to learn to ride a bike at the same time as a little friend. We mothers had the two kids on their bikes on a big baseball diamond. One child was on the outer circle of the bases, while the other was on the inside, riding in the opposite direction. We admonished them to watch out so they would not run into each other. Yet they followed their focus until they collided in the center.

Without healing, we are on a collision course to duplicate the disasters in our parents’ lives. The good new is there is a way to get off the field. It is possible to make clear decisions unencumbered by anyone’s past. The key is two-fold.

First, we need to forgive the offending parties in our lives. This comes through counseling, but the goal is to take on a different frame of mind. We might have to come to the belief that those who were supposed to take care of us did the best they could, given their own circumstances that resulted in injuries. Having this perspective, we can see them as objects of our pity, not hatred. For where we hate, we focus. When we can forgive, surrendering the circumstances to the Lord, then we experience freedom from, and even love for the offending parties. That is the beginning of our restoration.

The second part of healing is to re-evaluate where we are in order to see what decisions we have made that seem driven versus those that seem pure. As we experience healing, we may notice that our relationships change. We might have drawn people to us who are as injured as we are, which threatens to continue the cycle of hurt. We will need to build healthy relationships. The most exhilarating sensation will be a sense of cleanness and clarity. Uncluttered decision-making will be like a breath of fresh air.

Maybe then we will not be anxious when we hear the klink-slide of our own feet on the pavement. As our soles touch the path, the link we will have with the souls who came before us is that of love and better understanding. Having eliminated the dead wood of injury, we can blossom in the good that our parents have passed on. At that point, I think we might not worry when our little one says, “Mommy, I want to be just like you!”

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  • j.d. ruby

    I’m sure that I’ve been the source of some of the wincing – and also the source of some of the kvelling … I’m guessing this is one of the ways God teaches child and parent alike to persevere! <3 Josh

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