This is 31 conversations from the front porch day 4 – you can find the other readings in this series here. This is when you wish you could go back to being innocent.
Day 4: When You Wish You Could Go Back to Being Innocent
My brother met a woman a few years ago, and then they went and got married and made some babies. She has eased onto the front porch with us like she has always been there. I love to listen to her stories and memories about church. She is unsullied in how she sees it and lives it. While those of us who have been through too much wish we could go back before the bleeding places to Easter Sundays with gloved hands, shiny shoes, and our crisp floral dresses, it is good to have one voice in our midst to remind of us of how it is supposed to be…of the innocence that once existed.
There are a lot of places in my grownup world where I wish I could go back to life before I knew too much, saw too much, and hurt too much.
I wish I could go back to before I learned and saw in truth the manipulative characters in my life, and then walked around feeling duped for a whole summer.
It can be overwhelming to realize that your family is just as messed up as everyone else’s.
I spent a whole summer one year trying to recover from this epiphany that my extended family was/is severely dysfunctional.
I wish I could go back to seeing all of us through innocent perhaps even naive eyes with all that love and none of that mess.
Like when I was a kid.
But is pretending – ignoring the messy places in one another and what we bring together – really to be considered LOVE?
I wish I didn’t see how we rubbed each other raw, how selfish we could be, how cruel and ungrateful and unkind. I wish I didn’t recognize the jealous competitive monster that pitted one person against another. I wish I didn’t know about the envy and shame that forced people onto sides because there always has to be someone on the out. I wish I didn’t see family favorites or family idols. I wish all words were weighted the same – that one person’s opinion did not mean more. That one way of living wasn’t seen as “more valid or the ideal.”
I wish I could go to some place where the family labels we each have been given – weren’t the ones by which our whole lives were framed.
Your family’s definitions do not have to be your definitions.
I wish I could go back to when I had no clue how messy everyone really was/is.
I wish I could go back before I learned to see.
But I can’t.
And when those broken, hurting places all collide together I find this strong desire to react – to slam – to lash out irrationally.
I find this strong need to be heard, to be understood, to fix it, to make it right.
Until the last few years – before that summer of grand epiphanies I might have tried, but now I find myself easing into a peace that does not NEED to react.
I am finding that front porch state of mind – seeping into other areas of my life
I look for the goodness that is right where I am in my own home and family and life. I focus on the family I have been given to build.
My sister-in-law is right about church – so I remember my innocent days in those pews and on that platform fondly. And I refuse to hold the hurting places of what is real for very long.
I let them go, repair what I am given to repair, and mind what is in my own bowl.
That bowl is a discussion for another day.
I look on my family – the one that I have been given to cherish and raise; I look at the families that I come from… and I look at who I am in the midst of all of that and then I lean into what is my responsibility.
I lean in to what I can change, what is my place and my right and my truth and then I go live that… anyways.
From the front porch,
Exercises for Your Own Front Porch Conversations:
“…Our stories of worthiness – of being enough – begin in our first families. The narrative certainly doesn’t end there, but what we learn about ourselves and how we learn to engage with the world as children sets a course that either will require us to spend a significant part of our life fighting to reclaim our self-worth or will give us hope, courage, and resilience for our journey.” -Brene Brown
Thoughts: Some of the deepest hurts come from our families of origin – those people that should have loved us, where we should have been safe and accepted, but we weren’t and they didn’t (J. Eldredge says something similar). You probably have met a few grownups who have made it to middle age having never gotten over what their parents did to them. It’s ugly to witness. It has to be horrific to live. But you are not who and what your family says you are and you do not have to live your family’s definitions. That can be really hard to overcome if you come from a very religious family of origin. God and faith and religion all intermix with family stuff – words like: honor, love, respect, responsibility, but mainly HONOR – are like sticky fly traps hanging from the ceiling. The idea of HONOR booby traps our lives. Every step towards self-care, self-love, self-compassion, and finding your own definitions can feel like you are walking in a field of land mines.
But you are not the labels you’ve been given.
You have to learn how to honor yourself and God… first.
Questions to Consider:
- Have you ever experienced that moment when you see a person or group (church, family, work, organization)… and you finally recognize how messy they all are together? And then you feel duped? You feel the fraud? Like – why didn’t I notice this before? Have they/we always been like this together?
- How did you navigate moving forward? Did you fake it? Did you confront it? Did you move on?
- What child-like innocence are you missing? What situation has adulthood changed for you so that you see it differently?
- What is your responsibility? Are you a fixer? How have you compromised yourself trying to make this group’s mess better?
- Try to find a quiet sanctuary within yourself this week – that place where no other opinions or labels matter – that place where your life is framed by good words.
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