This weekend marks the celebration of Father’s Day. For many women, this is a time to honor the man who played the most significant role in her formation as a woman. The fortunate ones can point to a dad who faithfully loved his family and sacrificed to do so. These dads should be honored and I’m incredibly blessed to have such a father myself.
This is not the experience for millions of women.
Many women will bristle this weekend at the mere mention of Father’s Day. I meet these women all of the time at events and hear their stories shared through tears. Their image of an earthly father is a man who deeply hurt them. Their hearts bear deep wounds from fathers who were either absent or abusive. Many women grew up with men who did not affirm or adore them. For such women, this weekend proves painful, confusing and difficult.
For this reason, we at Redeemed Girl Ministries want to acknowledge the pain of a “father wound.” Your wound could have occurred from abandonment or divorce. Perhaps you’ve only known a father’s hands that harmed and his words that cursed. Whatever shape or form the “father wound” marred your heart, I want you to know that your pain is valid; it should not be swept under the proverbial rug. A “father wound,” however great or small, is one that desperately needs healing.
But how does a woman who has been hurt by her earthly father experience healing?
1. Acknowledge the Hurt
The process of healing begins when we acknowledge that we are wounded. It is natural for a child to want to paint the best image of her parent; so often she will justify or deny that the offense occurred. This denial only causes the wound to fester. A wound that is not acknowledged can cause long lasting consequences, ultimately affecting our relationships with others and with God. Since we project onto our Heavenly Father, the image of our earthly father, women with a “father wound” will find it difficult to relate to God, the Father. We will see him through a lens of pain or rejection and not relate to Him as He truly is.
To acknowledge your hurt, start by taking inventory of your emotions. If you find yourself struggling with bitterness, rage or anger (especially at men or towards your earthly father) chances are that you have a father wound.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31
2. Bring Your Wounded Heart to Jesus
To heal our wounds, we must bring them to Jesus. This is different than your routine morning devotional time. I like to call these “messy prayers” because when we bring our wounded hearts to Jesus, we open up before God and pour out the pain and junk to Him. Jesus is the Great Physician. He, better than anyone else, can touch the deep and often hidden wounds of our hearts. But for Him to heal us we must bring our hearts to Him. Don’t delay. Get on your knees. Spill your guts. Tell the Lord how your earthly father wounded your heart.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
3. Confess Unforgiveness.
Anne Lamont once said, “Not forgiving is like drinking cat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” When we hold onto bitterness and un-forgiveness, we hurt ourselves.
Let me make one thing crystal clear: to forgive someone does not mean that we say that what our father’s did or didn’t do, is “okay.” Forgiveness is not justifying or diminishing a sin, it is acknowledging that a hurt occurred but choosing to release the person who hurt us. Forgiveness means we release the debt we feel the person owes us and we give that person to God.
Pray: “Father, I confess I hold unforgiveness in my heart towards my dad. Please forgive me. I choose to forgive my father for… (be specific). I release him of the debt I feel I’m owed. Please help me to experience freedom from all bitterness, anger and pain.”
4. Draw Near to Your Heavenly Father
More than simply addressing our need for healing, I want to point you to the exquisite love of knowing and being known by your Heavenly Father. In Christ, you are God’s Beloved. Draw near to your Heavenly Father through Christ and let Him pour His love upon you.
He delights in you.
He is never too busy for you.
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
He longs for you to experience His love and to know Him.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. -1 John 3:1
“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
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us… In love he predestined us to be adopted as his [children].” -Ephesians 1:3-5
Redeemed Girls, it is my prayer that as you process and pray through your “father wounds” that you experience the love and delight of your Heavenly Father. You are His! You are the Beloved! You are precious in His sight!
“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.
Marian Jordan Ellis