Nobody’s childhood is perfect. Even if you had a relatively secure and healthy upbringing, you’ll have been affected by negative experiences in some way. You might have grown up without a father, with an emotionally distant mother, or maybe you were raised in an environment that didn’t encourage you to share your feelings. These early experiences will have shaped you and spoken some painful messages into your heart.
Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers call these “childhood soul wounds”. In their article on ‘How to Become a Family That Heals’, they describe how these wounds are triggered and cause us to carry on the cycle of hurting our own families. But this cycle doesn’t have to continue. From their thirty years of experience in Christian counselling, they’ve seen families set free from dysfunction and can attest — there is hope for healing the family.
I’ve experienced these dysfunctional cycles in my own life. Growing up, I didn’t learn to acknowledge and express my needs. Because of this, angry outbursts or shutting down were the main ways we communicated when conflict arose. Yelling at my siblings when they hurt me or isolating in my room were ways I learned to protect myself. These negative experiences shaped me. The messages I absorbed became the ‘soul wounds’ that continue to affect how I perceive myself and how I behave towards my own family now. Over time, these unhelpful behaviors caused the pain in my close relationships to compound.
Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers helped to remind me that I’m not alone and that the work I put in to heal is worth it. It is possible to change and grow out of what they aptly call “marital and family purgatory”.
What’s helped me immensely on this journey is building up my ‘toolkit’ of resources. Learning basic conflict-resolution skills, connective ways to express my emotions, and grounding techniques to manage my triggers have done wonders for me. Other practices — mindfulness, intentionality, and sacrifice — are what Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers highlight as being specifically helpful for this healing journey. All three are powerful parts of my toolkit and I highly recommend you read further here if they’re new to you.
I remember some of the first times I was able to stay grounded in conflict and find the words to say that I was feeling hurt. Those were the moments where trust and intimacy began to grow. Where I shifted out of dysfunction and into God’s restoration. With the support of counselors, prayer, and repentance, I’ve grown so much and seen great freedom in myself and my relationships. And I know there’s more to come. I genuinely look forward to the opportunities the Holy Spirit reveals to bring me deeper freedom from my childhood soul wounds.
Everyone has their ‘stuff’, these wounds we’ve accumulated. If we choose to become aware of them, intentionally tend to them, and lean into God in the process, we can see an end to the painful and damaging cycles in our families. We will see intimacy grow and become, as the article so beautifully articulates, “a safe haven for each other”.
To read the full article on ‘How to Be a Family that Heals’, click here.