Monday, October 19, 2009

Thoughts From My Inner Child

I believe most people are familiar with the term "inner child". I have long been interested in the profound and lasting impressions made by an individual's inner child - and especially how those early beliefs shape the adult they are to become. I regularly reflect on the beliefs I am instilling within my own children, and I do my best to be aware of the truths I am impressing upon them, as well as those things which they could perceive as a truth.

Recently I became aware of one of my own beliefs. It was something I had thought and accepted for so long, that I didn't entirely realize that my adult thoughts about the concept weren't really accurate.

One of my favorite hymns is "There is a Green Hill Far Away" by Cecil Frances Alexander (1823–1895). I distinctly - distinctly - remember sitting in sacrament meetings at the age of six, and singing this hymn with my parents. I loved it. I loved the melody and the simplicity of the message. Most of all, I loved its imagery.

There is a green hill far away
Without a city wall
Where the dear Lord was crucified
Who died to save us all

We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains He had to bear
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav'n and let us in

Oh dearly, dearly {I loved the repetition and gentle emphasis of those words} has He loved
And we must love Him too
And trust in His redeeming blood
And try His work to do

It was the third verse that held the phrase I innocently misinterpreted. All of these years, the imagery associated with my inner child's understanding of "He only could unlock the gate of heav'n and let us in" had to do with "if only", rather than, "only He".

If only He could unlock that gate of heav'n and let us in, He wouldn't have had to be alone.

If only He could unlock that gate of heav'n and let us in, then we could have been with him, and eased him in his suffering.

If only He could unlock that gate of heav'n and let us in, maybe this wouldn't have been such a sad song.

For all of these years, as I would sing the hymn I would imagine a scene akin to myself peering through an ethereal gate while clutching the bars, longing to enter. Only He had the key, but He couldn't come and unlock the gate because He was on the green hill in Calvary. I filled me with the sense that I was there - on the other side of the veil. Watching. Yearning.

I suppose my imagery had turned into a sort of habit, a repetition. But it was something that brought understanding as well, even if it was a little off. In reality, what I had construed in my childhood mind wasn't too far off, symbolically. Yet when I finally had the light bulb moment of, "Oh! Wait a minute...that's not what that means", I admit to feeling a bit sheepish that it took me until adulthood to realize it.

When we sang the hymn yesterday, I remembered again my little misinterpretation. But it made me smile. There's actually something very personal about imagining oneself as an onlooker to the greatest, most profound event in human history. Perhaps many of us were there. His sisters and brothers, held back only by our pre-mortal state.
I chose to keep the image in my mind for the remainder of the ordinance.

1 comment:

PBAndJ said...

Beautiful entry, M-A.