A few weeks ago my spiritual director said he thought it sounded like I viewed myself as a child. I wasn't very happy with him. What he said hit a very tender spot.
As an emotionally parentified child I have been a very good girl for a very long time. Responsibility is my middle name (okay, not really--it's Lee), but my fear of being bad has led me to a life of hyper-vigilance following the rules. My tendencies even show up on my StrengthsFinder 2.0 test, with responsibility being in my top three strengths.
And then I went to seminary.
As my professors spoke truth and love, grace and knowledge, they at times asked me not to do my homework. At first I couldn't obey. Then I realized I wasn't obeying. So I decided to obey and not do my homework. Sure, an oversimplification of what actually occurred, but for the first time in my life I felt freedom to be utterly and truly honest. I was having a difficult time praying, so I wrote a paper about the difficulty, not a manufactured response on how good God was all the time. I was honest. And it led me to experience God's goodness, however ironic that sounds. When God didn't punish me for not enjoying prayer, or not praying enough, I felt seen and loved and cherished--and I tended to find myself wanting to pray. For the first time in my life I wasn't a good girl, and I knew I was loved deeply in the middle of it.
This process of growing up emotionally hasn't been easy. At first I thought I'd get to enjoy the childhood I lost, but that hasn't been the case. However, Jesus is inviting me to mourn the loss -- it's not fun, but it's deeply good. Mourning the loss of my childhood for me means letting go of not getting to live life simply, forgiving those who emotionally used me, and admitting what happened to me was wrong and there are unfortunate consequences for me today.
What I'm beginning to see now (with the help of my spiritual director) more fully is how wrong my child-view of adulthood was. Even in my parentification I wasn't acting as a true adult. I was acting as the version of an adult presented to me. I'm learning now what it means to live as an adult, deeply loved by Jesus. So far it means:
I invite you to share...
How do you feel about being perceived as bad, or good?
What has keeping that mask on ("bad/good" person) cost you?