Ricky Chelette wrote a great article about growing in the midst of unmet needs from childhood. What a great clarion call to give up childish things and embrace the growing up that’s part of adulthood. Ricky is executive director of Exodus member ministry, Living Hope and will be a general session speaker this year at the Freedom Conference!
Becoming an adult isn’t easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest changes everyone goes through. For those who struggle with same gender attraction it is particularly difficult because there were legitimate needs that were unmet during our maturation process. Those needs weren’t always kept from us or hidden from us, often times they were just presented in a way that we could not perceive they were being given. Other times things happened, bad things, abusive things, painful and hurtful things, that colored the world and stole the sense of innocence each person should experience in youth.
But childhood is meant for children, not adults. It is a time of focusing on self, learning how to navigate and understand the world around you, and finding pleasure in everything. In fact, one of the main motivations of a child’s heart is his own sense of pleasure. Whatever feels good is good, or so he thinks.
But a pleasure seeking mentally does not work in adulthood. Pleasure and its counterpart, the avoidance of pain, cannot be the compass that guides our lives. When it is, our choices are self-serving, selfish, or avoidant. We either run towards indulgence or hide in fear of pain.
In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” What a brash statement and so much easier said than actually done. Paul “gave up childish ways.” In the context of 1 Corinthians 13 you read that as an adult, Paul realized the world was not all about him. He was created to serve God and to serve others. His love for others had to supersede his love for his own pleasure. We too must learn this powerful lesson.
Weekly I meet with men and women who are consumed with meeting unmet needs that should have been cared for in childhood: a mother’s embrace, a father’s affection, a dad’s affirmation, a friend’s attention, a safe place to call home, a sense of personal worth or safety, and the list goes on. As crucial as each of these things are to healthy growth and development as people, there reaches a time when we must admit that some things we long for may never actually be experienced.
As a grown man I am not going to crawl into the arms of my mother or father and be rocked. I can’t be five again and neither can you. We have to reach a place in our lives where we acknowledge the pain caused from our unmet needs and simply surrender those things at the foot of the cross. Our insistence that others meet these needs in our lives is neither fair nor accurate. In fact, others can’t do what God intended families to do and sometimes, because of our fallen world filled with fallen people, families just fail. It is at the foot of the cross that we can grieve the loss of that which never was or may never be and hear the voice of our heavenly Father who sings in delight over us. In His presence we can put away the childish things.
It is time to grow up and be the men and women God has called us to be. It is time to stop seeking our personal pleasure and die to ourselves so Christ might live through us. It is time to take up our cross and follow Jesus, denying the things which feed our flesh, our pride, and our egos, and embrace the One through whom our wounds are healed. Jesus won’t minimize our pain or trivialize our hurts. He has taken every one of them on Himself, onto the cross, and in its place of wounding, replaced it with strength and comfort. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
The time of temper tantrums, pouting and pleasure seeking is over. When I became a man, I put away those childish things… and so should you!