Georgia had finally reached the end of her rope when she came in for coaching. She was on her 3rd husband and could not understand why he was so much like the former 2 husbands who were rageful, controlling and vengeful. She longed for a peaceful marriage but her feeble attempts to ‘fix’ these men had made her feel like such a failure and her husband helped her along with that by saying that yes, she was a loser in everything she did.
But what Georgia didn’t understand was that she kept seeking her own healing from years of abuse by a rageful father through men that were just like him. She would just jump into the first relationship that made her feel comfortable– without seeking healing from Jesus so she could walk away from her past and make wiser choices in who she connected with.
The problem was the men that made her feel comfortable only made her feel that way because they reminded her of her father. She had this need to repeat the life she had with him– to try to make it come out right in order to fill the gaping hole her father left in her in her growing up years.
And the pattern was bound to be repeated in failed marriages over and over again until Georgia finally found her way to allow the Holy Spirit into those wounded places.
Unhealed relational wounds drive us to compulsive attempts to repair the damage. Without being aware of it, we seek out people we believe can “fix” what’s wrong with us or help us find a piece of ourselves we feel is missing.
We function emotionally like the man dying of thirst who sees a mirage and hurries to it only to find it is dry sand. His perceptions are driven by his need.
We are rarely aware that something in us wants completeness. The truth is we long for Jesus continually because He is the one who has really set eternity in our hearts. Within us, our spirits, we know the answer lies in Him. But our soulish realm, the mind , will and emotions has to be renewed and healed so we can change ourselves from the inside out.
But if we remain unaware of the powerful forces at work within us conditioned by our past emotional injuries, such as our family dynamics and how we responded to it, we can be blind to its influence and seek out the completeness we lack by making all the wrong choices. For example, consider the following scenarios:
The codependent person lacks assertiveness and the ability to confront, so she attracts controlling and aggressive people. (Georgia’s case)
The rageful person can’t bear to feel emotions that make her sad, so she finds empathic people who won’t confront her moods.
The rigid, black-and-white person with walls a mile thick is not able to let go of control, so he seeks out spontaneous, creative people who won’t try to control him.
The over-responsible, guilt-ridden person lacks self-care and feels like a loser, so she finds self-absorbed people who care for no one but themselves.
These kinds of responses do not reflect God’s intentions for us in any way. And they don’t lead to healthy or fulfilling connections.
But we are not complete without relationship with Him and knowing Him as our healer from the past.
The path to completeness or wholeness is to find a relational context and healthy relationships within community in the body of Christ…..finding those who you can trust and be vulnerable with and who can help you finish the emotional work that enables you to grow into the capacities you lack and become who you were always meant to be.
The first step is admitting to the pattern and seeking help.
“You complete me” is a great line from a movie, but it doesn’t work in real relationships. Another human being is simply not capable of making you feel complete. Your sense of worth has to come from God and His complete work in your life. Our pasts to not have to dictate our futures.
That is why most of us need to put less energy into romance and more into personal growth. It pays off later in romance. I recently saw this posting on Face book that got a resounding “YES” from me.
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek HIM to find her!”
Complete people attract other complete people.
We all need relationships that are supportive and caring in order to thrive. And while there can be excitement and drama with a person who follows your old patterns of dysfunction, it will ultimately be exhausting, if not debilitating. Setting boundaries and expressing your needs clearly will not only detract unhealthy people from seeking you out, and make them less attractive to you, but it will also attract people who are healthy enough to be there for you as well.
Don’t let unhealed relational wounds or the pain of a past relationship affect your future.
You CAN prevent the past from repeating itself.
Caden had trouble just being himself…He always had to wear a mask of perfection for fear of not being accepted. No one knew the real Caden. Inside he yearned for love and validation and thought the only way he could do that is be someone other than who he is. Underneath he had violent anger always brewing. What is at the root? His father left him when he was 6 and said he wasn’t ever coming back to live with him again. In the ensuing years his father would come to town to visit his new wife’s family and wouldn’t even call Caden. Caden found out through his friends. It was a small town. So, Caden had a split personality. One side of him was raging, but he kept it carefully hidden…most of the time. The other side of him was the perfect family man loved by all. He was a walking time bomb.
Maddy has spent her life yearning for her Dad’s attention, but time and again his attention went to alcohol instead. She adored her dad but he was always distracted with his heavy need for a numbing agent because of his own pain and his own father wounds. When she was a teen, Maddy’s dad was arrested for vehicular manslaughter and went to jail….now, Maddy lost all sense of who she was in this world. It took her many years to learn her worth outside of her Dad. He loved her but alcohol ruled him most of her life. He was an absent Dad.
Joyce’s dad left when she was a adolescent. Joyce was molested when very young by another family member. Her dad couldn’t handle this so left the family to go out on his own. When her dad abandoned her, Joyce sought male attention through her boyfriends and was led into a world of sex and drugs, and eventually married an alcoholic, which ended in more rejection. Joyce thinks today that there is not a man that can be trusted.
Tom heard his dad rage at his mom for years. As a little boy, he would lock himself in his room and put his head under the pillow to try to drown out the yelling. He became very introverted and quiet. He isolated himself and was afraid to trust anyone for years. He began to feel his dads rage and struggled with his lack of direction in life with no role model. Today he is not sure how he feels about God.
There are many father’s that are physically available but not emotionally. They satisfy the material needs for their families, but are incapable of fulfilling the need for intimacy and connection in their children.
All of these people I have talked about have a hard time relating to God as their Father…their “Abba, Daddy.”
I, too, for many years, had a hard time relating to God as Daddy– but more to Jesus as my constant companion. I was a victim of incest by my dad and spent my years growing up avoiding being alone with him. It is hard to relate to what an earthly dad should be like, or one who makes you feel safe when you are with him.
A father is one of the most important role models in our lives. To feel loved and accepted by your dad is vital to you having a healthy relationship with God and with others. Unfortunately, there are many of us who didn’t have that.
Does that mean we are exempt from having a healthy relationship with our loving God, the Father if we didn’t have a Dad that was trustworthy? Of course not!
There is nothing impossible with God. We just have to be willing to do the work!
Some of our deepest wounds stem from a lack of intimacy with our earthly fathers.
If men don’t seek God’s healing from this wound they will likely repeat this pattern in their own lives with their children. If women don’t seek God’s healing from lack of intimacy with a safe Dad, they, too, will repeat the patterns down through the generations of their families by choosing men that is like their Dads in order to somehow to fulfill her own needs of a dad by repeating the process.
But, good news….
You have the power to break this generational pattern starting with your own healing!
If you struggle with understanding and receiving God’s love, it may be related to the internal pain caused by the lack of affection from your father. The father wound will block you not only from knowing God’s love for you, but also from your ability to love others fully.
But, good news, there are some steps you can take to find restoration for your broken heart. Your past does not have to dictate your future. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and to be everything we need!
Embracing the Father’s love is at the core of living the abundant life that Christ died for you to live.
As painful as it may be you must re-visit the past and find where the gaps are. Go back to the times you felt rejected or hurt by your dad and face those painful memories. Maybe he didn’t protect you or keep you safe, or maybe he was never around. Whatever the case, write down any thoughts you may have. This is an important step towards resolving your pain.
What emotions do you feel when you see the pictures I have posted on this blog site? Does it reflect what your relationship with your father ought to have been? Do they make you feel sorrow for what you didn’t have.
When I look at them myself I feel numb. I can’t relate to them because I never had that.
Many years ago, I did this exercise in a small recovery group I was leading.
We looked at photographs of fathers loving their children. The room was silent as each woman reflected on her own relationship with her earthly father.
The only sound we heard was the sound of tears and for some you could see blank faces or angry faces. For the first time ever, many of the women allowed themselves to feel the pain that night because they were willing to imagine what an endearing relationship with their dads would feel like. They told me later it was a very painful but healing exercise for them.
Try to discover and face the emotions you have carried with you due to the lack of love you’ve received from your father.
Allow yourself to grieve for the little child that was robbed of the rich relationship that comes from an attentive, caring father. It was a loss you must recognize so you can allow the Lord to now come and fill that empty place. Here are some steps to help you get there.
Step one in your healing from the father wound is to face your pain and to step out of denial. Admit you have been wounded.
Step two, once you can admit that you have been wounded by your father, then you can start the process of recovery.
You can trust Him to carry you through your journey of healing. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the areas of your life that are bruised or damaged.
Step 3 is to forgive your dad.
This step may be the most painful one, but it is the most critical one.
Forgiveness is a process that starts with prayer. Pray through gritted teeth if you have to, but push yourself to pray and ask God to help you to forgive your dad. Remember, forgiveness is not saying what you did to me is okay. It is saying I release you to God so that I am no longer tied to the pain.
If possible, have a friend with you for this step for support and encouragement.
Set yourself free from the father wound by faith and allow your heavenly Father to heal you.
Step four is to recognize that only God the Father can fulfill all your needs through His son, Jesus.
It’s never too late to let God replace His love for that which was missing from your earthly father.