All of our parts separate from us due to identity damage, except one. Every person carries two adult halves of their core self that are present at birth and need to be united. We call these the core self and the para-self. (Para is a prefix meaning “alongside of” or “beside.”) The core self is the purest form of our God-created design. The core self is the one who responds to Christ in salvation and is the more relational side of ourselves. The para-self (or “para” for short) is less relational, task-focused, and its mission is to get the things done that are necessary to run our lives. The para is the stronger side of ourselves, the one who bears the burdens of school, work, much of parenting, etc.
When we minister to a doctor, their para says it is the one who got them through medical school and who runs the practice. In business executives, the para builds and runs the company. In women who are strong mothers, the para is responsible for the majority of their parenting. Paras are often the side of pastors who run churches. The para is the reason that some people are one person at work and another at home. If a person is a perfectionist, that is in the para. If the person is driven, the para is the driven side of them. In people who have suffered abuse and denigration, the para may take over and manage life, including marriages, in survival mode. Like all other broken parts, the para is always doing things in its own strength and by its own wisdom. The para and the core can be equally active in the adult life of a person.
The para is always full adult age, always maturing at the same pace as the core. Emotional immaturity is not the para’s Achilles heel as it is with child parts. The para’s issue is attempting to meet the needs of the heart through accomplishments, which never works. This causes paras to suffer from self-esteem issues. Nothing they do, no matter how successful, is enough. The endless rat race causes them to be emotionally tired, and many people do feel emotionally tired by the time they reach their thirties or forties. This emotional fatigue is in the para. It is tired because it has spent years trying to meet the needs of its heart through tasks and accomplishments rather than relational connections with God and other people.
The full expression of our true adult design requires the core self and the para self to be blended. When this happens, the core gains the strength of the para, and the para gains the relational heart of the core. This is often the first step in ministry due to the high level of involvement in the life of the para.