“What does your more innocent side look like?” I wrote the words down in my journal, took another sip of my coffee and listened as the podcast continued. “I’m empty and I’m tired.” Tears welled up in my eyes and slowly rolled down my face and onto my journal. The interviewer followed up with, “What do you need in that space?” A quiet pause and then the answer, “Just to be taken care of with no questions. This is innocence and I ache for it.”
Jo Saxton was being interviewed on The Road Back to You podcast and as I listened it was an oddly profound experience of feeling understood and not alone. I had listened that morning knowing that she and I share the same number on the Enneagram, a personality profile tool that I have enjoyed studying the past several years which has taken my spiritual growth in some unexpected directions deepening my relationship with God.
Whatever personality profile you want to use mine line up in the same general categories:
On the “DISC” I am high “D” (for dominance, super feminine sounding).
On the Meyers Briggs, I am an INFJ (apparently, the rarest type, I am complex and highly sensitive, and I am an extroverted introvert…a bit of a contradiction).
On the Strengths Finder, my number one strength is Maximizer followed closely by Activator.
On the Enneagram, I am an 8, the “challenger” (yep, it’s pretty much like it sounds)
So, I am a driving, doing, action oriented, strong, complex, extroverted introvert.
I am not one by nature who stops, rests, slows down or generally enjoys feeling needy or empty.
And, there I was sitting in my chair, tears falling into my journal as I felt the reality of my own ache for innocence and the goodness that it brings, which seems at times to war with the habits that have marked my life.
All of that driving and intensity comes with such brokenness that often shows up in my internal critic reminding me that I am responsible and it’s my job to fix whatever is wrong. The weight of those words crushing my highly sensitive, tender soul and propelling me forward to save the world and everyone I love and take responsibility for all the wrongness that I might encounter along the way, because after all I am strong enough to bear all the weight that brings with it.
As I sat pondering the word innocence I kept thinking about childlike innocence, the two words intrinsically tied together in my mind. I realized that I didn’t have any real picture of adulthood and innocence together, and yet clearly my body felt it as I held the words tired and empty together and felt the ache internally.
I started thinking about my own kids and I began to realize something, when they are tired and empty they need me, even my adult kids. They need me to see them, to listen, to fix their favorite foods, to bring them the blanket they love, to run my fingers through their hair and scratch their heads like I did when they were little. They want me to take care of them, and my knowing what they need reminds them that they are known and loved and safe and its ok to rest because I am there, even if it’s just for a night. It’s not about them being pathetic, or too needy or irresponsible or weak. When they come home tired and empty and I get to offer them that kind of space it brings me joy.
Honestly, I was stunned by this revelation. Stunned. It was so simple.
I’ve sat at enough tables with enough tired and empty women to know I am not the only one who is tired and empty.
“If you want to enter the kingdom of heaven you must become like little children.” Luke 18:17.
What if saying, “Hello to Innocence” is also saying, “Hello” to the Kingdom of God more fully? I think that it is, and for me its coming in some simple ways.
I am imagining what is available to me each day if Jesus actually wants me to feel cared for, and that it brings Him joy when I come to Him tired and empty.
I am making kinder choices for my tired, empty self and in that I am actually finding that the intimacy between Mark and I is deeper, I am feeling more present in my real world again and I am sleeping soundly at night.
So, I invite you to join me and say, “Hello to innocence” and see what Jesus has for you too.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). She is the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for 29 years, she is mother to five kids. After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.