The Story of Hugh
Understanding the 3 keys of this parable and how it relates to our vision for 2020
By Fern and Audrey
(Fern) Years ago, I read John Bradshaw’s classic Bradshaw On: The Family.
While I know I enjoyed the book and learned a lot about myself, it was “The Story of Hugh” that always stuck with me. Through the years when I would downsize my library, I would pull this paperback book off the shelf. The cover was coming off and two pages always fell out when I opened it. You guessed it: They were the pages of “The Story of Hugh.” Each time, I would gently close the book, place it back on the bookshelf, and chose another book to retire. I had to hold onto Hugh!
As I think of 2020, and our vision for Discovering MErcy in this new decade, I remember once again “The Story of Hugh.” There is so much meaning in these few paragraphs; they really describe a key challenge we face here at Discovering MErcy. Before I go into that, let me share with you “A Parable: The Story of Hugh.”
A Parable: The Story of Hugh
Once upon a time a royal person was born. His name was Hugh. Although I’ll refer to Hugh as “he,” no one actually knew whether Hugh was male or female and it didn’t really matter. Hugh was unlike anyone who ever lived before or who would ever live again. Hugh was precious, unrepeatable, incomparable; a trillion-dollar diamond in the rough.
For the first 15 months of life, Hugh only knew himself from the reflections he saw in the eyes of his caretakers. Hugh was terribly unfortunate. His caretakers, although not blind, had glasses over their eyes. Each set of glasses already had an image on it, so that each caretaker only saw Hugh according to the image on his glasses. Thus, even though Hugh’s caretakers were physically present, not one of them ever actually saw him. By the time Hugh was grown, he was a mosaic of other people’s images of him, none of which was the real Hugh. No one had ever really seen Hugh, so no one ever mirrored back to him what he really looked like. Consequently, Hugh thought he was this mosaic of other people’s images. He really did not know who he was.
Sometimes in the dark of the night when he was all alone, Hugh knew that something of profound importance was missing. He experienced this as a gnawing sense of emptiness—a deep void.
Hugh tried to fill the emptiness and void with many things: power, worldly fame, money, possessions, chemical highs, food, sex, excitement, entertainment, relationships, children, work—even exercise. But no matter what he did, the gnawing emptiness never went away. In the quiet of the night when all the distractions were gone, he heard a still, quiet voice that said: “Don’t forget; please don’t forget me!” But alas! Hugh did forget and went to his death never knowing who he was.
3 Keys to Know for 2020
There are keys in this story that I’d like to point out as we think about our vision for this new year:
1. We NEED each other.
God has designed us for relationship! Attachment theory explores the importance of a caregiver’s connection (attachment) to the child. Not only does a child NEED an empathetic, nurturing caregiver, a child needs an emotionally PRESENT caregiver.
2. “Mirroring” is the way a child’s brain develops a sense of who he/she is.
Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, defines “the mind” broadly as our emotions, our memories, and the way we think. This is all mirrored to us early in life by our caregivers. We “pick up” from this mirror who we are, that is part of child development. Dr. Siegel explains that the mind of the parent has a big influence over the developing mind of the child.
Continue reading to discover the third key to 2020 and What to Do with Trauma and Loss