Most of us carry in our hearts some hurts from our childhood. As children we find ways to protect ourselves overwhelming hurt. We hide our hurt; we pretend that we are happy or confident or brave when we really feel fearful, depressed or inadequate. Some of us even learn to detach from our emotions so we feel nothing.
Our heart is the hiding place for all our painful feelings. By the time we reach adulthood many of us have hearts full of pain. When our hearts are full of pain we can’t take in the love that is offered to us. Our hearts are hardened. Hurts that are buried from childhood and adolescence are very difficult and painful to face. In order to do so, we may need to be in therapy with someone we trust. Then we must make the decision to reveal the secret of our pain and share it. Doing this can feel very unsettling, risky and even painful. Yet it is the only way to free our heart of its pain so there is room for love.
Some will experience very painful emotions during this. Many of these feelings were frozen in our hearts from childhood. We must re-experience some of these emotions in order to be able to open our hearts to love. Another way to think of it is to think of a protective shell around our heart. This shell protects us from pain but it also prevents love from reaching us. Often the shell is a defensive layer of false pride. For example we may act as though we know all the answers when we actually feel very unsure of ourselves.
There are four ways in which this shell of pride blocks us from receiving and giving love.
1. Judging others. When we judge others we are, on some level, feeling superior to them. We think when someone is different they are “wrong.” We bolster our own self-esteem by thinking less of someone else.
2. Fear. We fear rejection so we don’t reach out to others. We fear criticism so we don’t let others know us. Fear prevents us from taking the risks that are a part of loving relationships.
3. Selfishness. Most of us must fight our own self-centeredness. We are tuned into what we want, what we feel, what we need and we have little awareness or even regard for the needs, feelings and wants of others. Loving and being loved requires effort on our part. We must let love in and receive it and we must respond with love to complete the connection.
4. Viewing ourselves as unlovable. If we can’t love ourselves it is very difficult to let the love offered us into our hearts and it is very difficult to believe we have anything to give another person. We must learn to love the child we were and the person we are becoming. We must learn to be humble and open like a child – letting go of pride.
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the
belongs to such as these.” Luke NLT Kingdom of God