Hi, my name is Valentine, we are going to be best friends. I am going to be your guide through the journey ahead of us and if things get a little rough, I will be there to protect you. You can find comfort in me when you feel all alone, after all that is why I am here. I am your trusty teddy bear.
What you just read was a fictional conversation between little Jonathan and his new teddy bear Valentine. I can still remember the day my parents gave me that bear. He was stark white with a red bow tie and a red heart nose and yes, he was a Valentine’s day special. While Valentine now mostly resides in a box in storage with my other childhood companions, we had many great adventures through my early years. So many adventures in fact that Valentine long ago ceased to be white choosing a light brown hue instead of his original coloring as it allowed him to be stealthier when on a mission.
Valentine was my protector, anywhere I went he was always close by, even if it meant being in my backpack so I would not seem uncool. Whenever I felt overwhelmed or alone, I could always count on Valentine being there for me. As I look back at those times in which I needed Valentine, I realize that he is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me. Valentine was there to protect me when our house was broken into, he was there to comfort me when my mom went into the hospital for emergency surgery and he was there with me when my Uncle was killed unexpectedly. However, it was not Valentine at all that was the comfort, but rather what he represented, or should I say who he represented. Valentine was and still is little more than fabric, thread and stuffing but he was a gift from my parents, a reminder of their love for me. Valentine filled a need within me for their affection and protection even when they were not physically there.
The need for love and acceptance, protection and comfort are universal It is especially true when it comes to those closest to a person. Studies show that most of the information a person learns throughout their life comes from those closest to them. Whether it is their parents, siblings, or grandparents the influence of familial bonds greatly determines an individual’s path in life. From birth we are programed to find our most basic needs of love acceptance, protection and comfort fulfilled in the hands of our parents and families. In pretty much every case the way those needs are met will dictate how well those needs are addressed in the future. Every parent when it comes to meeting the needs of their children bestow gifts upon them, which for the sake of this discussion we will call teddy bears.
Teddy Bears are meant to bring comfort when in distress, protection when feeling vulnerable and friendship when feeling lonely. There is something almost magical that happens when you squeeze a teddy bear as it inexplicably begins to bring healing and comfort. For myself with my parents this was the case, both literally and figuratively. My parents were there to provide for and protect me and if they were not, Valentine was. I recognize however this is not always the case as in many situations those closest to an individual are not able to provide the love, acceptance and protection that individual needs. In cases like this what results is not a teddy bear that is warm and fuzzy but instead a teddy bear wrapped in barbed wire. Imagine for a second a teddy bear, the exact thing that is supposed to bring healing and comfort becoming the very thing that is bringing pain and trauma. As heart breaking as that sounds, this is the reality for countless individuals who in an attempt to find hope and comfort only find more pain and discouragement.
For those that are plagued by barbed wire teddy bears, the place of their greatest wounding’s is the exact place where they are meant to find comfort. It is a catch-22, on one hand they can let go and stop being wounded but on the other hand it is what they are letting go of that is meant to bring them comfort and strength. In many cases what ends up happening is rather than letting go the individual holds tighter to the bear resulting in more and more damage being done while also crying out in pain wanting it to stop. A barbed wire teddy bear can only do damage if it is embraced and in life the same is true of people and habits. There are relationships and habits that if embraced will only result in wounding. Those people and things are better off being put on the shelf and kept at a distance because if you don’t the damage and pain will only continue.
The path to overcoming these barbed wire teddy bears begins with learning it is ok to let go of those things. It is ok to let go of those relationships, beliefs, habits. You do not need them as they are only causing harm. The thing about a bear wrapped in barbed wire is that as long as you hold on to it healing cannot happen. It is impossible to heal and be wounded at the same time and a decision must be made to continue to be wounded or begin to find healing. The second step in the process is relearning how to operate in life. It is vitally important that the void left by the removal of those harmful things is not left empty. Poor relationships need to be replaced with healthy relationships, poor habits unlearned, and new habits gained. Old harmful belief systems need to be put to bed and new ones born.
A huge step in relearning life and overcoming barbed wire teddy bears is the recognition that you cannot do it alone. God created mankind to live in relationship and within relationship we rise and fall. The wounding’s happen within relationship and the healing will come through relationship as well. With that in mind I encourage you to seek help overcoming your teddy bears. Find someone who can help you find the rest you need and give you the guidance to walk healthily into the future. If you have read this and say I do not deal with anything like that than I challenge you to be there to help others who do overcome their hurt.