I recently Googled the trailer from the Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” Julia’ s character had gone into her bathroom in the middle of the night, shut the door and prayed the only way she knew how. She said prayer was so remote to her that she started to say “Hello God I’m a big fan of your work!” Julia’s character was in pain.
I know this pain, the pain of trying to make life work from the outside in. The pain of being driven by our “childhood programs for happiness,” as described by author Richard Rohr. in his book Breathing Under Water. I’m a big fan of his work. Rohr said that he has identified that there are four basic profiles that we adopt as children in an attempt to help us cope with our childhood emotions. He calls them our childhood programs for happiness.
The four programs can be roughly described as:
The Story of Survival and Security—our need for survival, security, success( looking good to ourselves and others) and safety.
The Story of Affection and Esteem—often a story of dependency and co-dependency. This childhood program for happiness is often based on outside influences validating and esteeming us. This has been my personal story line.
The Story of Needing Power and Control—we feel powerless and our lives are unmanageable; therefore, we are preoccupied with the need for order and control.
And lastly, The Story of Identification with a Tribe or Group—We begin to take pride in the group we belong to so that we feel better about ourselves. Tribes can have many identifications, such as being a Republican, African American, Catholic, certain fraternity or sorority, gang or even working for XYZ.
We feel pain, we feel uncomfortable when life starts going against our storyline.
I am wrestling with the need to put away my childhood program of happiness. I had to ask myself: What benefits have I received, has this program for happiness really worked? I saw my therapist and I’ve been in prayer.
My spiritual director and even my dream life are in agreement. I must, as Matthew 6:6 says “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
This week I am beginning my program for overriding my childhood program for happiness. I know that I must be intentional, I must practice daily to replace those old tapes with the life-giving messages that only God can speak into the secret place of my heart. So, I’ve decided just like Julia’s character I’m going to run away from home. Yep!! I want be going to Italy, Indonesia or Bali as her character chose to but, I will be seeing a wise man who will tell me all about me the real me.
Need a little help coping or identifying the source of your pain consider: Richard Rohr’s Breathing Under Water
The Youtube trailer for those who need to see what pain looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjay5vgIwt4
Renovation of the Heart In Daily Practice by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson
Also, consider the old standby—I Corinthians 13:13
Join the Conversation
Which of the childhood programs for happiness do you most identify with? What might God be saying to you about that?
What do you do when overwhelmed by pain?
Juanita Campbell Rasmus is an inspirational speaker, motivational teacher, author, and founding board member of the Bread of Life Homeless Project. Juanita and her husband Rudy co-pastor Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.