We don’t know what we don’t know…..
When we realize we don’t know, most of the time we don’t possess the correct questions to help us begin to know what we need to know….. (now stay with me..)
And, most of the time, we only discover what we don’t know after we have made mistakes, and wish we could fix them.
It’s so true, isn’t it?……
Each month, through our ministry at Awakened to Grow, I teach workshops for personal growth and development. This morning, the subject was “Parenting: How to Discover and Develop Gifts in your Child.” For three hours, we discussed personalities, parenting styles, bonding gaps, learning styles, and the process of connecting with children on a heart-level. I was particularly touched by one participant who came. She is a single gal, who came not because she has children of her own, but because she is a teacher who wants to help her more emotionally disconnected students.
Why, you might ask….
Because emotionally disconnected students don’t really learn or absorb. They just memorize facts, and forget them later on. This woman knows instinctively knows that if she can get her students to connect with her as the teacher, they will learn.
When our children were smaller, I mistakenly thought that a more structured and somewhat rigid environment would help them to become better students. I scheduled, made task-lists, and sometimes over-organized our home-schooling/learning environment. It didn’t work. Wow, that’s an understatement. It really, really didn’t work.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
When I discovered that I didn’t know, I realized that I had no idea what questions I should ask in order to learn a different pathway.
It is the same way in emotional development, which, by the way is necessary for both genders. When we count the male gender out of the process during boyhood, we damage their souls. We stunt them as men; turning them angry and violent… or worse, we cripple them in their leadership skills later in life. They find it difficult to find the courage to walk forward without looking over their shoulders.
We hinder them from hearing the Spirit of God as adult men.
Emotional development does not track with the growth of our physical bodies. In his research on the levels of moral development at Harvard, Lawrence Kohlberg divided the steps of emotional/moral development into five stages. Level 1 descibes a person who is emotionally infantile, unaware and out of touch. At the other end of the spectrum, Level 5 describes a person who is able to fully invest in relationships, connecting with and investing vulnerability in others unselfishly on a consistent basis. Sadly, even as adults, more than 90% of the world’s population does not move past level 3 — self-centered, self-absorbed, unable to really understand other people around them.
So what prevents us from growing?
Here is the the first key: Unless a person intentionally addresses an area of relational living; assessing, addressing, and changing it; they will not, they cannot grow. They might try to imitate a behavior, or keep a rule in order to save a relationship — but they will not be able to make real steps towards adult living. For example, if a man has had a difficult childhood, say, where he could not relate to his mother; that man will find it difficult to relate to women in his adult life in a healthy manner. He will also find it difficult to relate to his daughters. He won’t be a good communicator. He might be struggle with being tempted to be unfaithful, or even cold and unfeeling….
If he has sons, his manner of relating is passed on; imitated and followed, many times for generations…
The same types of symptoms occur in women, when emotional development has been stunted; or bonding issues exist.
Here is the second key: Emotional development does not happen in seclusion or isolation. It happens in community — We were created for relationship — Therefore, we need it in order to be happy, healthy and whole.
This kind of growth many times cannot happen unless hidden wounds are addressed in a person’s life. And please, for those of you who have been in Christian circles for a long time, please understand that it doesn’t happen quickly, or overnight. Rather than a one-time event, where a person comes to change; it is a journey, with one step following another; happening incrementally, and intentionally.
The first lesson we learn in emotional development, is that we must be willing to be honest; assessing where we live without fear, blame, guilt, shame or denial.
The second lesson is more difficult. Choosing to trust a safe person; asking them to give us a new set of questions to ask about our lives.
For more, let me recommend a great read. “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” by Pete Scazzaro.
To close, let me say this:
My friend, Mike likes to post funny things on his Facebook page. Today, his quote came up, “God has already figured your stupidity into His plan.” At first, I laughed, and then, thought, “It’s a good thing!” You know, if God had to wait for me to “get it” every time, my life would have more delays than an airport….. He is the only One who knows all the things we don’t know….. and at the end of the day — He is the only one who can heal us!
(c)2010 DG Awakened to Grow. Duplication without permission prohibited.