It might seem eccentric or even irrelevant but it’s been on my heart to have a better understanding about what I was like as a little girl. My memories don’t always serve me well.
There happens to be a popular personality test in our area that requires you to answer questions about your childhood. When I first came across this method, I felt a ting of frustration…maybe even sad.
I tried to answer the questions the best I could but doubted the whole time that I was picking answers which sounded good to me. (Oh, you know you’ve’ done it!)
I even called my mom and dad to get more insight on what I was like as a little girl, but you know, it was my mom and dad. Of course they knew better than anyone…but I still had questions.
There’s been no obsessing over this desire to know but on occasion, I’ve initiated conversations with God about it. My why for doing so has been connected to my tendency to believe God places dreams and desires in our hearts as young children. The purity of the dreams He places in us should be in line with a personality that’s “fit for the task, right?” And because it seems I’ve taken longer than normal to settle into who and how I am, I wanted to go back to the beginning and look for clues.
I think I finally found some this week.
While driving through the gorgeous countryside in Southwest Missouri yesterday, a thought popped into my head:
As I started remembering Kindergarten, I felt overwhelmed that God was showing up with some answers about my personality as a 5-year-old girl.
Kindergarten was a definitely a turning point in my short existence. I don’t remember sadness before Kindergarten. Many things happened my Kindergarten year that opened my eyes to a heart that could feel pain. As I started remembering, I began to see my personality take shape.
I saw myself playing with my dog Bandit, who I was quite emotionally attached to. I only lived one block away from school and as soon as school was out, I ran home to see Bandit. (Ran, not walked…ran, not lingered…ran, not skipped) I couldn’t’ wait to play with him and had no shame when it came to playing in the mud with Bandit, or in getting in his doghouse with him. (I have a picture of this) I talked to Bandit as I would with a friend.
One day I ran home from school as usual and Bandit was gone. No warning, no questions…just gone. My first significant loss. I don’t recall how it all went down, but Bandit bit someone and had to be given away. My dad explained to me that someone in the country took Bandit and he would be happy having more room to run and play. I tried to be happy for Bandit but I cried for a very long time over Bandit.
Shortly after Bandit left me, I experienced getting bit. My name was Kandi Cain in Kindergarten and some little boy decided to take a bite out of my arm to see if I tasted like peppermint. On a side note, my mother dressed me up as a Candy Cane for our annual kiddie parade during Neewalloh that year and I won. I fought it all the way but decided since I won, it wasn’t so bad. Some pain was worth the outcome!
During that same year, I’m convinced I broke a little boy’s arm. It was one of the neighborhood kids and though I don’t remember what mean thing he said, I remember the exact spot we were standing in when he said it. We lived in a row of three brick homes on Oak Street and we were standing in front of the middle one. Half-way between my house and his. Whatever he said didn’t end well for him as I grabbed his arm and twisted it. I heard a horrible sound and then let go…he cried and ran off. To this day, I am horrified I could have done such a thing. I want to say he deserved it and maybe if I could remember what he said, the guilt might not be as bad?
One day, as a Kindergartner, I was running outside with my dog Bandit and fell on a big rock in front of our house. I stood up, put my hand on my head and ran into the house. I flung the bathroom door open, where my dad was, and letting go of my head, blood came gushing out. Needless to say, my dad finished his duty very quickly, put me in his truck and we headed to the E.R.
The memories of fear, vulnerability and out of control-ness from this experience is probably why I’ve never forgotten it. Once my dad and I got to the emergency room, we had to wait until we were called back…I mean, I had a gash in my forehead, I wasn’t dying. When the nurse called us back and told us I needed stitches, I FREAKED out. I freaked out so badly they called in back-up. A team of people in white coats surrounded me and proceeded to restrain me and put me in a harness type contraption. I lost all control, the ability to defend and protect myself… or have any say in what was about to happen…I was helpless and in the hands of people who I didn’t know had my best interest in my their hearts. I actually remember trying to tell them that I was okay and didn’t need stitches after all. They didn’t agree.
Most people can relate to experiencing these emotions during their lifetime. Feeling vulnerable, defenseless and fearful. Maybe you can? I could share other memories where I experienced similar emotions when being sexually abused, or my parent’s divorce but my latest experience was only five years ago.
Five years ago when these particular emotions flooded my brain with real chemical familiarity, I was desperate to learn a new response that didn’t look like breaking someone’s arm. Instead of freaking out, hardening my heart and running away, I cried out for God and intensely desired to be led by His truth and not my emotions. He purposely and tenderly led me to stay in a place I wasn’t sure anyone could ever have my best interest in his or her heart. I was completely out of control again but also willingly gave up control. This time, it was my fault, having lacked self-control and NOT having the best interest of others at heart.
But God wanted my undivided attention with no one to blame or no excuses to justify. In His mercy, He shined His light in my heart and mind. I learned how to subdue my emotions, sit in His presence for more than 10 minutes and listen for as long as it took. It changed me and still does. We never arrive at a point we can be led by our emotions without great risk. We can consider our emotions, enjoy holy emotions and we can learn from our emotions, but they often make reckless leaders.
My memories before childhood pain were of a little girl who feared nothing, valued running over walking (How I wish that was still true!) and loved life. I was bursting with emotions! I loved animals and even bugs…the only ones I would kill were slugs because my brother taught me I could watch them melt by putting salt on them. I loved fishing and baited my own hooks by the time I was 5. I learned how to ski when I was 5 and loved being risky on the water.
When pain entered my little girl world, I didn’t have time for it. It got in the way and made me angry. It didn’t fit into my plans. I knew how to cry but I didn’t know how to find a resolve that helped me know I was going to be okay.
I needed to be strong, break arms and find my own way.
My personality was that of a “strong, wild child.” The hunger in my heart to know God as a little one was deep and evident when I asked my dad on that trip to the ER, “Why did God let this happen, daddy?” That question would later haunt me when the pain went way beyond a gash on the forehead.
As a big girl, I am able to process that sometimes those questions will never be answered. More than the questions, His presence comes when we move toward Him in the questions. Some how, and I’ve experienced it deeply, His presence becomes more satisfying than the answers…He becomes the answer. Without explanations we are sure would make us feel complete, He completes us.
In a mysterious but certain surety, God doesn’t remember our forgiven sin but He also doesn’t forget the sin against us.
That’s not to say He doesn’t forgive those who have hurt us but He comes as our Healer. He knows details and He understands these things better than we do…and better than our best friend and better than our spouse if we are married.
Sometimes God has to remind us we have unhealed pain. Unhealed pain hurts us and can hurt others…so He wants to heal us because He loves us. His love heals like none other.
Strong little girl personalities become strong big girl personalities. In the personality test I mentioned at the beginning of this very long but I pray not boring blog, I tested as mostly red…with a splash of yellow. Which could be interpreted as a strong, emotional leader. Oh Lord. Nathan has told me for years these tests can annoy him because people might use them to excuse behavior that we define as “personality.”
Like, being bossy, calling it red and telling you “It’s just how I am.”
You get it.
This morning when I was reading in Luke, I stopped in chapter 1, verse 80 and meditated…
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”
This verse could have simply read, Jesus became strong. It would then have provoked questions about the nature of His strength.
Was he strong physically?
Did He have what we call a strong personality?
Maybe He was, maybe He wasn’t, maybe He did or maybe He didn’t…what His Father did give us clarity on was a Man who was strong in spirit. Now this gives me substance to wrap my hands around!
Since our highest goal in life as His children is to become like Him, we need to pay more attention to what it means to become strong in spirit, not demeanor or emotions or personalities…or our opinions.
The idea of being a redeemed “strong in spirit” woman looks to me like a woman who confesses her weakness so His strength receives the glory.
It’s a woman who it doesn’t matter what personality she’s been assigned, it doesn’t hinder her from living in the fullness of all His promises.
A redeemed “strong in spirit” woman is a woman who no longer needs to fight for herself but rests in being sought after and fought for… and healed from all her self and other-inflicted wounds.
It’s a woman who repents when she sins and isn’t okay with sinning.
A woman who doesn’t need the praise of man nor wilts at the rejection of it.
A woman who fights for others the same way Jesus fought for her.
A redeemed “strong in spirit” woman knows whose she is and celebrates how she was made, because God knew what He was doing during the knitting process.
Having greater insight into what I was like as a little girl and the memories of being a feisty, freckled-faced Kindergartner has been a gift. My favorite reality of this whole process is that God still speaks. He puts words, or questions or images in our minds and leads us by His Spirit to places that heal us and teach us. If what’s in your mind is not leading you to hope, healing or teaching you something for your good, it’s not God, but that’s another blog!