Healing the Wounds Left by a Father
Someone made a comment on my post Fear of God – Beginning of Wisdom about how though I was blessed with a wonderful earthly father, many aren’t. I was asked to address those who haven’t been so fortunate. I don’t necessary think I’m most qualified to address such an issue, but I wanted to honor the request and share with you want I have learned from my friends who have had issues with their fathers. I was thankful for the suggestion because many of my friends fall into the latter category. In fact, this past week as I was visiting my family many conversations came up about the impact of fathers. We talked about the effects of no fathers, fathers who neglected, over protected, who loved. Here are my thoughts . . .
Unfortunately, many men have done a poor job as a father. Like the rest of us they are fallen and far from perfect. But the role they have has such an impact in our lives that their actions effect us more than most. Fatherhood is a great responsibility. It’s a job that reveals a man’s greatest weaknesses and to those he is supposed to love the most. As a result of those weaknesses, some have abandoned, neglected, abused, and overly controlled their children. Among my friends those who didn’t have a good experience with their fathers instead had with a relationship of lack that left them with deep wounds, anger, pain, disoriented paths, and vast voids in their lives.
So if the experience with your father left a huge void or vaults of pain in your life, how can you draw near to a God who says He is your father? How do you know really what that truly means? How can you trust God to be your father, when your only experience of a father was none at all or crappy?
Initially how we view God is related to how we viewed our father. We carry over the framework given to us from our father to God. But this obviously isn’t where we are to stay mentally or emotionally – whether our experience was good or bad – we each need to seek God as He is and if we do He will teach us and show us who He is. He is able to give us what we never had in our earthly relationships, if we seek. John 14:21
Talking to one of my friends about her experience with her dad, she said, it’s true he left a big hole in my soul, but it provided a larger place for God to fill. Because of that lack it pushed me closer to God seeking from Him what I didn’t get from my dad. I have been blessed to know and depend on God in this way.
This is the treasure in broken relationships; God comes into the brokenness in such intimate way. Wounded souls gain a special relationship that is nourishing and rich with God because of the lack they had. They deeply connect with Him in a way they otherwise wouldn’t.
Often it’s the void, in whatever area of our lives that drives us to seek God with passion with our hearts, souls and minds. The wound, the pain, and the emptiness are powerful drivers. God uses these driving forces to turn something deeply painful into something amazingly blessed. Our fathers have a big impact in our lives, how much more our heavenly Father if we let Him in into the depths of our pain and sorrow? It’s about perspective. We can either see our past experiences as a never ending wound in our lives or we can see it as an opportunity to experience the presence of God in a very intimate and personal way. Where do you want to be? Which one are you fostering in your life?
Our earthly fathers, whether good or bad, are to point and drive us to our heavenly Father.
A mistake often made is getting caught up in looking to our earthly fathers to repair the damage they left behind. We aren’t to look to them but God. God is our eternal Father; our earthly fathers are but a vapor Psalm 39:5. We need to be careful not to put too much focus on the temporary because then we neglect the eternal. We are to seek God to complete and fill us, to heal and restore us. As for our earthly fathers we have to abandon the hold they have on us, or we will remain living out our lives in a reaction to theirs. We are called to live in the spirit in the newness of life, not the past. With God’s grace we can. Only God can truly enable us to move forward. Though, I haven’t had to do with my father, I have in other areas. Freedom comes from Him, and He is able to set us free from whatever binds our souls. As long as we look to our earthly fathers to play a part in delivering us from the pain we are looking in the wrong place and often will be greatly disappointed.
You can’t wait on them to change, to apologize, to make good for the damage they did. Because many never will due to blindness to their own lack. The truth is we are fallen. We cause others pain. We damage with our actions and our words. We all fall short. God is offering freedom from that bondage of pain caused by others. It is a process no doubt especially with our fathers, but is a journey that in the end will fill you with gratitude for the earthly father you had because of what it brought to you in your relationship with God. It may be hard to believe, but God loves you more than you know. He wants to give you what you never had if you will open yourself up to Him. He wants to go into the reservoir of that pain and abide, and turn it into rivers of love.
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
If you are God’s, you have a new Father, embrace Him.
October 7, 2009 at 2:52 am
It is so important for all people to receive a Christian Education. We must address the challenges of life by trusting God our Father for all our needs. He can heal every pain unto death and beyound.
October 7, 2009 at 7:50 pm
Well said !! – “we must address the challenges of life by trusting God our Father for all our needs.”
October 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm
Good morning. This is a topic that hits close as I’ve made a lot of istakes over the years concerning the upbringing of our kids. In Morgans case (the oldest) I can now see a lot of areas where I could have handled things better and perhaps she would be less rebellious now.
But the Lord is doing a work and I’ve seen a change, both in Morgan and Dustin. I see two souls who are coming close to a time when they will be born of the Spirit. Over the past few weeks, there have been times of contention in which I had to find a place and seek the Lord concerning things; lest I react to circumstances instead of respond to the challenges.
I was just reminded of a line in one of the tracts that I routinely hand out. “God does the saving; all of it.” He does it in spite of our shortcomings and in this the name of Jesus is glorified. Thanks for a thought provoking, and very encouraging post.
Blessings always in Jesus name.
October 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm
Thanks timbob for sharing your experience – I thought of writing a bit to the fathers, but decided that would be another blog. As Christians we are ever aware of our falleness. And thinking how we have passed that on to our children can be difficult – it requires great trust – and as you said understanding “God does the saving; all of it”. His mercy runs deep, wide and high to cover it all.
January 9, 2013 at 4:49 am
I’m just starting out in wsoihrp and I feel like God had called me to lead. However I have suffered a lot with low self esteem. The section about Mary has really challenged me to keep dreaming big and believing in God’s faithfulness.
October 7, 2009 at 3:14 pm
Great post, Rachel. Like you, I am blessed by my father, but have friends who didn’t have as pleasant an experience as I did. I forwarded it to the people in our little part of the church here in Rapid City and I feel confident it will be a blessing.
October 7, 2009 at 7:59 pm
Thanks Cindy. I hope that it is too. I know this is a difficult area for many. But God is powerful beyond measure to heal up our wounds and to turn our sadness into joy – we just need to truly trust Him.
October 9, 2009 at 1:09 am
This is a difficult subject for me to talk about. I have been wounded by my father who passed away last year. I cry still when I think of how it impacted my life negatively not to have a father figure in my life. It took a long, long time for me to trust God as my Father. Even now, I struggle with trust issues because I did not have a childhood. I loved my father and he lived with me the last four years of his life, but sad memories from my childhood still haunt me.
I am thankful that God is with me.
October 9, 2009 at 4:03 pm
The healing is definitely a process. But God is faithful to complete what He has started. As Nathan said it is layer by layer and we have to be patient as God takes us through each one. Walking hand in hand with Him through it is the way to deep lasting healing and freedom. I am thankful for your faith in God and pray He will bring amazing peace in this area.
October 9, 2009 at 7:38 am
You have many interesting observations about the influence of dads, and how that relates to the Lord. I particularly liked, “We are to seek God to complete and fill us, to heal and restore us. As for our earthly fathers we have to abandon the hold they have on us, or we will remain living out our lives in a reaction to theirs.”
Unfortunately I am one of the guys who had a bad dad, In fact I often tell people that I was raised by wolves, since neither of my parents was a healthy specimen.
The bad news is that since I suffered physical and verbal abuse I have had many repercussions from it, the Lord has healed much of it, but He is healing layers like an onion, after each layer is healed He goes deeper and then starts on the new layer. Of course, like your friend with the big hole in her heart, in some ways I am most fortunate. The good news is that the Lord is working on it and He is healing me and reassuring me every step of the way.
These are some of the symptoms resulting from the abuse I experienced. Perhaps some of your readers can identify with some of them.
* I was paralyzed by fear in difficult situations
i.e. to be unable to make a decision or deal with big things like job loss, or inability to pay a debt, in a constructive way.
* I was distant emotionally especially regarding myself.
i.e. I could watch a movie where an animal or a child, or an innocent character got hurt and I would be bawling like a baby, but when it came to my worst wounds and scars I couldn’t let myself go and cry (I couldn’t express my deepest hurts).
*I was abnormally, excruciatingly shy in social situations, to the point of hiding.
* I had extreme reactions, trembling, shaking voice, anger etc. when confronted by a hostile or unfriendly authority figure (policemen, bosses, pastors, priests, etc.)
* I was at times depressed, often with feelings of worthlessness.
* I had totally ambivalent feelings about my dad. I loved him, but then again I hated him.
* I was in denial, clinging to an ideal fantasy of what my family life was like. The things I said about my family home life didn’t match the reality of it. My denial was so strong that I had to be confronted about it (by my wife, someone who knew the truth of the situation).
At one time or another I had all of these symptoms to the point that it was causing me problems, so I thought, ‘why not go to the best psychiatrist in the universe?’, Jesus. The key was that I had to humble myself (realize I couldn’t possibly deal with it myself) and be as brutally honest with Him and with myself as I could.
I started off with “What in the world is wrong with me, Lord??”
and as I sat quietly and listened for Him, He began with a dream I remembered from my childhood (fifty years ago), then as I asked Him, He showed me what it meant. He took me back through the worst experiences, this time with Jesus present, so that I could understand them as an adult. Then I was able to let go of them and hand them over to Him for disposal. He has not given me more than I can handle, but I must say, it is very tough at times. Also it was impossible to forgive my dad when I didn’t even remember why I was so incredibly angry with him, His healing has made forgiveness possible.
The biggest perk of this is, as Rachel mentioned, the Lord becomes your Father, in a very real way, when He gets you to the point of release, you can cry on His shoulder. You can sit in His lap, like the child you were when you were wounded. And you learn, in the most wonderful way imaginable, that He is your refuge.
Please understand, I am not a mental health professional, I am only relating how He is healing me. Thank God, He is healing me.
October 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I KNOW it will be an encouragement to others. There is a lot of brokenness in this area and as we share our experiences with one another we help each other. 2 Corn 1:4 You made a good point about the healing layer by layer. There have been deep wounds in my life where He has done a similar thing – this is why He has to be the One we trust to heal us – only He truly knows each layer, when to unveil them, and has the power to bring truth and healing. Also, I appreciate you taking time to share with us the symptoms – often we try to address the surface symptoms instead of seeking from God the true source of it. It is good to see how it is all connected. Thanks again for sharing – honesty and realness is so powerful.
October 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm
This time I’ll be brief (yes, I know I’m wordy)
I included the symptoms, because it is my understanding that many who have these deep wounds may be unconscious of them, it is common for the child to push damning evidence of a parents conduct (they are not supposed to hate their parent) way back into the furthest parts of their mind where it festers over the years and the only indication they might have are the symptoms.
I hope that some one who is suffering in this way will notice the symptoms in their life, and ask the Lord about it so that the healing process can begin.
October 9, 2009 at 9:51 pm
I am thankful for your words. It was incredibly helpful. And I totally agree. We have symptoms and excuse them for others things and miss out on the deep healing of God because we don’t ask or seek. Thanks again for all your words 😉
April 27, 2010 at 8:13 am
Wonderful post on our “earthly fathers”. I was one who falls in that category. I have forgiven him and we have a close but distant relationship. I demonstrate love to him, but still feel very anxious when I am in his presence, which is not too often seeing now that I love in MN and he is still in Atlanta. I have been moving towards healing with God in this area my entire life, but yet have entered into the same type of relationships/the “old brain” kicking in thinking this is normal to me, this is how it’s supposed to be. God is continuing to do His work of healing in me with the depression, anxiety and P.T.S.D. and grateful He is patient with me and this process. Thanks again. Jane
April 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm
Jane – what we receive from our parents, good or bad, has such a tremendous impact in our lives. When it is lies or pain, I’ve found the healing is definitely a process – God restores and heals a layer at a time because it is a very real and deep healing, and along the journey we learn the magnitude of His love, mercy and power at work in our lives.
December 20, 2011 at 10:46 am
Hey Rachel, through better than a half century of life, I have found that reguardless of the size silver spoon one has been born with, everyone can write a cry-in-your-beer-song about their life. This comment is not mint to down grade anyone because, I’ve been there & if I loose sight of the Lord, it will come back. —A point that has helped me: remember when God convicted the Jews for enter-marrying & having children with people around them. The Jews knew their life was wrong, & chose to change into what was pleasing to God. If a person had any passion at all, would this not have been a gut-wrenching decision? Early on you said we have no freedom, we are bound in servitude either to satan or to Jesus. satan wants us to wallow in our miseries of life, where Jesus wants us to be at peace. —The closer we get to the end, the more satan will try to pile-drive us into concrete. Remember I spoke of the high-dollar TV preacher that said,”Yes, saturday is the Sabbath but, if we change back now it would disrupt the world!” (one will rise with a THOUGHT to change God’s times and law). In compareing the decision of the Jews to the decision of the gentiles, which would you think to be the hardest decision to make? We don’t know what was the driving force that caused people to be cruel to us, we just know they were not following Jesus, It is for us to break the cycle!
December 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm
Hi Eldon, we don’t always know the specifics of people’s actions … but we know the whole world is under the sway of the wicked one .. so we know the ultimate source. And it reminds me that we battle not against flesh and blood, but the spiritual powers of darkness. May we remember who the battle is truly against and love the rest. 🙂
April 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm
Dear Rachel, please PLEASE stop overwhelming me (us?) by posting so many mails, I can’t possibly read them all…!!!!!! God bless you, but please think of us! LESS would be more – I’m sorry, I’m just erasing one after the other without reading them, I can’t possibly sit for hours on the computer just reading all those mails, it’s just too much – sorry. God bless you all the same!