The third grade daughter of a friend of mine had a hurting heart. Childhood depression isn’t always obvious, but this little girl was very introverted, always looked ragged, and was unaffectionate and disconnected from her mother. In fact, she would hiss at her if she tried to hug her. Childhood depression is hard to treat because eight is too young to experiment with medication, and generally, children aren’t self-aware enough to get a lot out of counseling. But children have one advantage over adults, and that is that they are still connected to their youngest selves.
Adults can have a difficult time accessing their inner child, but an eight year old girl is already there. So I came over for a visit to see if the Holy Spirit would guide me. I felt the suggestion to talk to the girl’s baby heart. I asked Anna if I could talk to her baby heart, and I still laugh a little at the utterly skeptical and slightly irritated look on her face. I thought that the whole baby heart thing was only difficult for adults, but even children resist the vulnerability of that deep intimacy. However, she was just miserable enough to agree. With mama there, I began to address Anna’s heart.
Nothing is more emotionally intimate than talking to someone’s heart. There are no masks that hide our youngest hearts. Unlike adult hearts, they have not had a chance to harden. So when I asked Anna if she could feel her baby heart, she said yes in a very high pitched, young sounding voice.
I prayed for wisdom because once someone lets you in to the sanctum of their hearts, you are on holy ground.
“How does your heart feel?” I asked her. She thought for a moment and replied, “Angry.”
“Why is your heart angry?” I asked carefully. The answer came swiftly.
“Because my mom and dad didn’t want me.”
I could tell my friend felt stricken. Anna was conceived during a tumultuous time and was unplanned. Further, the father was no longer in the picture and had not been since Anna was two. My friend loved her daughter very much, but she couldn’t deny that the pregnancy had been a crisis pregnancy and an unwelcome complication.
I asked Anna if her baby heart could forgive her parents. She thought about it and then released the anger. At this point, I asked her heart if she was willing to let Jesus in. Again she considered the question and then agreed. I invited Jesus in and Anna, who rarely showed emotion, began to weep. Her mother held her for awhile. I asked her to share what Jesus had said. She raised her head and said in a trembling voice, “Jesus came into my heart and He said,
‘Hello, Anna! Welcome to the world! I am so glad you are here. I am the best friend of your heart.’”
She went on to say that He had hugged her very tight.
From this moment on, things were different. It was not that Anna no longer had struggles but her self- esteem was greatly repaired. She became affectionate and looked people in the eye. She no longer looked like a lost waif. The changes were enough that her teacher asked Anna’s mother what had happened to Anna.
Some things are foundational to emotional well-being. Feeling wanted is crucial to self-esteem and self-worth. I often ask people what they think God’s greatest gift to them is. Most often they answer Jesus. But then I ask them whether it is possible that they themselves are their own greatest gift from God, without which, Jesus would be unnecessary. Do you view your life as a gift from God? Have you allowed Him to love even the youngest and perhaps most vulnerable parts of your heart?
Baby heart, Jesus loves you and is so glad you are here. He is the best friend of your heart.