4 Steps to Healing “The Father Wound”


Father-and-child-holding-hands-247x300Caden 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. 

Father-holding-child-with-delight-300x300‘Every man carries a wound.  And the wound is nearly always given by his father.” ~ John Eldredge

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.

father-and-child-google-images-300x150A 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.

64658_465671946828692_1306119874_nIf 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 are 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, the good news is, 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.

hidingAs 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.

father-and-son-4-300x200We 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.

1. 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.

2. Step two, once you can admit that you have been wounded by your father, you can start the process of recovery.

  • jesus-with-children-0408Go to your Father in Heaven and talk to Him about your sadness and pain.  The truth is that He is the only one that can heal the father wound you carry.  He is the only one that you can count on to never fail you or leave you.

  • 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.

3. 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.

  • cupped handsExtend grace to your earthly father for all the imperfections he has.  Forgive him for every pain he has caused you.  Say it out loud.  Cry if you need to cry.

  • 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.

4. 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.

jesus and boy“A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing.” Psalm 68:5-6

Take a risk, open your heart and fully grasp the Father’s love for you.  He is your ultimate Daddy, and He adoringly calls you His child.

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:18

May the Lord guide you and comfort you as you surrender your father wound to Him, and may you be healed forever so that you can live a rich and satisfying life.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children.  Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.‘” ~ Romans 8:15

I want to tell you that despite the depths of your wounds, and I know for many of you those run dramatically deep, that you are not defined by your genealogy. 

As you process and pray through your “father wounds”, you will experience the love and delight of your Heavenly Father.  You are His!  You are the Beloved!  You are precious in His sight!

530443_10150790377567355_563857079_n“Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes.  Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.” 
–Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved.