The Child Within

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director   

If you have been around here for a while or if you have seen me personally in any setting for any length of time, you know that I generally talk to you about the inner, emotional child. It is apparent to me that much of the healing that must be done in each of our hearts really has to do with that inner child and more specifically that need for each of us to grow to emotional maturity.

Now at first blush its easy to say that we are mature as most of you are young adults by the worlds standards. Many of you are successful to some degree in the real world of business or school, and even some hold positions of significant responsibility in major companies or churches. We carry out our secular tasks with great skill and acumen, but these outward appearances of our maturity seem to mask the inward reality that we are emotional pygmies. Now dont get offended by my bluntness, (it saves typing!) but when we boil it down everyone I have ever met who deals with this issue has within their mature chronology, a very immature little boy/girl that is stuck somewhere in the past where affirmation, attention and affection failed to be imparted.

I strongly believe that homosexuality is, in large part, a manifestation of emotional immaturity that has been masked and compensated for by excesses in other areas of our lives. Now lets think about this. Ive counseled and talked to a few hundred people that deal with this issue and I dare say, that because of these boards and this ministry, there are not any folks out there who have more contact with strugglers between the ages of 13-26 than we do. (Thats not being pious or proud, folks, its just the way God has blessed this ministry! Praise the Lord!) With almost all of you, there are one or two areas in your life that you have really overachieved. It may be music, art, work, academics, communication, appearance, style, etc., but there is something that you have taken to the extreme in order, (I believe on a subconscious level), to draw attention away from the inadequacies you feel in other area(s) of your life. In many ways this is very good and normal. In business they call this compensatory self-management and it basically says that you learn to compensate for you weaknesses by managing them.

However, if you and I were to sit and chat and I asked the right questions, pushed the right buttons, queued into the right emotional scenarios, it wouldnt take long until you would be bawling like a 8 year old after losing his favorite toy truck. (I mean be honest. Why do you continue to cry at the Hallmark commercial about family at Christmas? Hello?) Why? Because in your heart, in your emotional self, you ARE that 8 year old and what you long for more than anything is the affirmation, attention and affection from that father in your life; you want intimacy with him on a level that calms your fears, alleviates your anxieties, makes you feel safe, and says to you that you have what it takes to be a man or a woman. When that blessing as Gary Smalley would call it, does not occur, then you spend the rest of your life longing and looking for that void to be filled.

Lets be honest. Homosexuality is NOT a sexual problem, it is an emotional/relational problem rooted in the failure of man to follow Gods plan for raising/loving/nurturing children. Sure, it gets manifested in sexual ways, because, as a child and a concrete thinker with sexual feelings, what other vehicle do we have to feel extreme vulnerability and intimacy other than sex? But at its heart, homosexuality is NOT a sexual problem. The sad part is that over time, when the real desires for attention, affirmation and affection are not met effectively, we walk down a path where sex becomes a problem, an addiction; even a god in our lives. If homosexuality was about sex then why is that all the active homosexuals out there in the world having tons of sex on a daily basis are not the happiest people on the planet? WHY? Because sex aint the problem!

So what are the ramifications of this emotional/relational immaturity in our lives? How in the heck to do we go back fix the problems of childhood find the blessings that we never received or received in perverted ways (i.e. abuse/neglect)?

For starters we have to acknowledge that we are immature. That may sound simple, but it is much more profound than you think. As I read the New Testament, I cant think of an instance where someone was healed by Jesus that didnt first acknowledge their need for healing in some way. In fact, Jesus words to those needing healing were often very pointed, do you want to be healed? (John 5:6) Admitting such a flaw in our personhood is never easy, but certainly necessary. Once we admit it, then we are able to visit that wounded child with authenticity and invite him/her to grow.
Now the neat part of this journey is that unlike our physical selves, our emotional selves are not limited to chronology and can grow at a much more rapid pace!

We each need to invite Christ into the heart and feelings of that little boy/girl and ask Him to walk with us as we look at the hurt, experience the pain, and realize what it is that is really going on there What did we miss? What is it that we are really longing for so desperately? This may be a difficult process, granted, for we have so masterfully masked those real needs in the trappings of addictions and perversions that to find the innocent amongst the perverse will take time and discernment. But Christ can help us find these real needs. We would also do well to enlist the guidance of good accountability and/or mentor/counselor in this protracted process.

Once we find these real needs, which have been perverted and misdirected, we can begin to get these needs met in legitimate ways. How you ask? Isnt that just like us to want the answer NOW and simply? I must be honest to tell you that I think there are a couple of ways to do this, some are more powerful and potent than others, but sometimes the options are limited by the degree of brokenness of others, not just ourselves.

For instance, I think the best way to get this healed is the restoration or relationship with your own father. Establishing a relationship with your father will mean some very difficult conversations, some incredible vulnerability on your part, and your willingness to risk it all emotionally with him. It will mean pain, plain and simple. But lets face it; you are already hurting and bleeding and you need it to stop. It may mean that you actually confess to him what you are struggling with and let him know from where you feel these desires stem. It may mean that the two of you see a counselor together to work out issuesetc. But what I can assure you is that it will mean you will have to move out of your comfort zone and enter enough into his world so that he is able to relate to you/connect to you on some level, be it ever how small.

Now hear me say that this is NOT a one time event that is going to get better after you air the dirty laundry ” I only wish it were so simple ” but a process of communicating, relating and revealing your hearts, one to the other, so that God can allow the Jesus part of you to connect with the Jesus part of him (even if he is not a Christian as we are all created to be children of God!). This may mean you go to a ballgame or a truck pull and he goes to a musical or an art show. Yeah, it will be hell on both of you, but its all worth the effort for sure.

As the process of connecting unfolds, you need to be communicating how you are feeling; processing the things that are being said and shared in a way that the other person not only realizes that you are understanding them, but how those words are effecting your heart and life. Additionally, you will need to be sure that you express what you are seeking/needing so that it is not a mystery to them. For instance, you (or at least your counselor) will need to say to your father that you need him to touch you, to love on you physically, to affirm you in your masculinity and look for ways to do that. This will NOT be comfortable or natural for either of you, but go with it until it becomes so. After all what is faith? Believing something is so, when it is not so, so that it becomes so. [RPC Simple Definitions for Profound Things, unabridged version, not yet published and likely never will be!]. You have to exercise FAITH in this relationship with each other. It is a two way street with you and your father making compromises and concession along the way so that you meet in the middle, not just on your court!

Now I know some of you are thinking, that this just cant happen. I cant do that. My father is dead. My dad is a psycho, he is mentally ill, he is an alcoholic, a drug addict, etc. He is totally incapable of any meaningful interaction with another human being on that level. And you may be totally right. In that case your task is a bit more difficult, though I doubt you can believe that! You will have to grow this little boy/girl another way since your earthly father cannot provide that affirmation, attention and affection. Ps. 68:5says that God will be a father to the fatherless. This is a difficult and often incomplete task in some ways. We have to allow and intangible God to meet the real needs intended to be met by a tangible father ” but this is doable! As you learn about the loving attributes of your Heavenly Father and begin to trust Him in those attributes, it is amazing how you can experience the affirmation, attention and even affection of God Himself. This has certainly been the case in my life. I cant say that I have this down perfectly or I have experienced it fully, but it has happened. My father, despite all my efforts at reconciliation and vulnerability, is so personally and deeply wounded by the scars of his own absent father and poor childhood environment, that he is incapable of giving me the 3xA (affirmation, affection and attention) that I need. As time has progressed over these 40+ years; as he has gotten older and closer to the end and my expectations of what he can provide has significantly diminished, he has come around some and I occasionally get one or two As now and then. But thats not now something I require of him they are more like gifts given for no apparent reason. What I have received is that of the Fathers delight and affirmation of me and it has taken deep residence in my soul and heart.

Another source of this 3xA can be found through other, older, mature, and spiritually attune, male mentors/friends. Now right off the bat many of you are uncomfortable about this prospect. There is something about youth that tries to avoid the elderly or even the slightly older, but heed my words ” these people have wisdom and perspective that you do not have and you need! Get to know some older, Godly men in your church and allow them to speak truth into your life. You dont necessarily have to share with them your struggle, though if you are able to do that and ask them to mentor you personally, that would greatly improve the quality and depth of that relationship with you. See, God uses His people to be His hands, His mouth, and His heart to touch and bring healing into our lives. To say that God does not want to be intimate with us is really to say that we are not willing to allow people of God to be intimate with us. God is manifested in the hearts and lives of people who love and follow Him. We are His hands, His feet, and His heart So find you a mentor or two ” older by at least 10 years, mature, in love with God, growing in the Lord ” and begin a relationship with them. Set good boundaries and warn them of the potential for you to be ED on them as they love you ” that can and likely will happen. But if you are aware and they are sensitive to the Spirits leading, they will know when that is taking place (and you can tell them!) and they will guide you through it without incident. Get them some resources to read and educate them about your struggle, etc.

You need to experience a real, intimate, intense, deep relationship with another male that is not abusive, sexually perverted, or self-gratifying. You need to know that an intimate same sex relationship is possible and real. When you do, you will find healing taking place in your heart that you never thought possible. You will see that little boy/girl of 8 or 10 becoming 12 and 16 and eventually match up to your chronological age. Its a glorious and mysterious process that only God can do, but He chooses to do it through others as we lose ourselves in Him, only to find our true selves in surrender to Him.

So now you ought to have a better understanding of where the neediness comes from, the pettiness, the silly crushes and sensitivity to the slightest comments, etc. You should have some understanding of how you can begin to get these legitimate needs met in legitimate and Godly ways. You should have some understanding as to what the next step(s) look like and how genuinely difficult they will be, but what better time than NOW? What better day than today to begin this journey of healing and wholeness that transforms our wounds into His strength?

Well this is really long and if you have read this far you are really hurting and really want to be healed ” congrats!! But I wanted to get some of these thoughts down on paper (or screen) so that they might be of help to you. If you have any questions or clarifications about any of this, do let me know. Sometimes communicating these ideas without the benefit of personal interaction and body language, are difficult. Let me know what you think.

So are you ready to grow up? Are you ready to see the boy become a man; the girl become a woman? I cant wait to see what God is going to do in each of your lives and hearts.