"What was an experience in your childhood that helped you toward maturity? What was an experience in your childhood that hurt?"
Someone said, "The child is the parent of the adult." It simply means that the experiences of our childhood have helped shape us to be the people we are today.
With my friends we celebrated the help and then spent a good portion of our time exploring each person's hurt.
Now, for the creativity... We drew images that represented the hurts for each of us that cause us to act out of our woundedness in compensating ways (neediness, niceness, competence, or hurtfulness). These compensating identities disconnect us from our true selves and short-circuit our ability to truly love.
We then drew a little arrow to the right of each of our images that pointed to another image that represents what maturity might look like. We asked, "How do we get from here to there?"
For example, the story of a hurt that one of our guys told was a shame-based story of how he felt that he didn't fit in. The image of woundedness we chose for him was a puzzle piece with a ? inside. The image of wholeness (maturity, beloved child–ness) was a puzzle piece with a ! inside.
How do we move from immaturity to maturity? From a compensating identity to a mature identity? From woundedness to wholeness?
We repent and believe the gospel. We stop rationalizing and justifying our compensating behaviors that limit our love and wound people. We embrace the good news that Jesus has died on the cross to change everything. We are forgiven, accepted, complete, and transformed because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. We can live unashamed. We do "fit in."
For the next time we meet, I've asked my friends to write down 5-6 biblically informed sentences of what they think Jesus would have said to them - to that little boy at the moment of his wound. It's what He's still saying.
I think it's going to be a powerful experience. I think it may exponentially grow our grasp on what it means to be beloved children of God. We can be increasingly set free from the wounds of the past that limit our love of God and others.
This simple little exercise might be a powerful tool for you, too, as you work to disciple your friends.
Thanks for all you are doing to be a Discipler!