The heart of the human being often becomes a rejected treasure that children begin to hide when they do not experience themselves as pursued and affirmed. This common experience is a great sadness. When the heart is experienced as the enemy of the child, then God, too, can become intuitively and improperly feared, distrusted, or given up.
We are born to grow into who we are created to become, so we can do what we are created to do. Children grow from within by having their hearts affirmed and confirmed by caregivers. Affirmation says, “Yes” to how a child is created as an emotional and spiritual creature. It actually reminds the child who they are. Emotions express the heart, and the essence of spirituality expresses the desire to connect in depth with the heart.
Confirmation builds on the “Yes” of affirmation by consistently repeating it. In other words, they both communicate that the caregiver is in the child’s life to stay no matter what happens, and never give up on growing the child into becoming a grown-up.
Every child is in true need to be affirmed and confirmed in a world that generally does not support the vulnerability of desire and the courage to express. Affirmation and confirmation from caregivers feeds the two primary needs of belonging and mattering in the child. They give the child the confidence to trust the risk of continuing to share their hearts.
Children really only have a few essential questions of caregivers:
- Will you grow up with me?
- Will you help me become a grown-up?
- Will you live in the struggle of remaining present in heart with me by taking care of yourself?
Children need to be able to take the “Yes” answers to these questions for granted, and only later in life find great gratitude in the questions being answered well. They do not demand perfection from caregivers, even though they cry when imperfection occurs. They do attempt to demand, however, the persistent presence of the caregivers. The presence they crave, importantly, is a presence of heart, not a presence of perfection.
A child is born expressing heart. They need to be able to remain true to their hearts, for the heart is the wellspring of life. Children need the caregivers to keep heart, and help them do the same in a world that can pull us all away from the core of who we are created to become and what we are created to do.
For caregivers: Grow your own heart with The Voice of the Heart Bible Study.
The heart is the center of one’s being. Out of the heart we feel, need, desire, long and hope. These five primary characteristics of heart comprise the core of how we are created. They allow us to grow and connect, imagine and grieve, attach and love. The heart is the origin of our identification with each other and the place from which we become unique. It is the home from which we care and make ourselves known. We experience life through the heart, and through the heart we are created to direct our wills.
The heart is the seat of our emotional constitution, and the home of the universal language that all humans are created to speak. The heart is the place of God’s greatest concern for us. For if we do not live out of our hearts, and if God does not live in our hearts, we are adrift, existing detached from how we are created, who we are created to become, and what we are created to do. Finally, the heart is the birthplace and homestead of courage. We need a great deal of courage to live fully and love deeply in world that is, yes, wonderful, and also tragic.
Having courage and having heart are connected in meaning. The Latin word cor means heart. It is the root word for the English word courage. Cor means the center of one’s person, the essential makeup or heart of a person. We are born with a core, out of which we have courage: full-hearted participation, the complete offering of ourselves to life and living, the full capacity to be “all in”.
We are born offering our core, our hearts, our courage to caregivers, showing our feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope. We cannot do otherwise. When we are young, we cannot stop ourselves from reaching for connection, showing our neediness, or expressing our dependence. The expression of heart is a need to be fed the food that grows the heart. We don’t develop this core expression of being “all in.” It is inborn. We do, however, have to fight to keep it. We need to be encouraged by connection with trusted others. Encouragement feeds the courage to continually offer our feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope towards what matters to us in life and God’s process.
We come out of the womb as courageous emotional and spiritual creatures, created to do one thing—live fully. And we cannot live fully unless we do so with others and remain connected to God. Those relationships can nurture the courage to live out of our birthplace, the core of who we are, the heart of how we are created. Courage is a matter of the heart. Without the voice of the heart, the core of who we are being alive within us, the courage to live a life that adds to the living is not realized.