Recently I led a retreat for 18 pastors and their wives who serve at churches in Mexico. It was called, “Embrace Abba with Me.” I’d like to share with you one of our times of reflection and prayer on the father wound that proved to be powerfully healing for everyone. There were many tears, hugs, and prayers. In the end their were smiles!
The Lord spoke through Jeremiah and said, “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!” Yet many of us try to do that. We don’t want to feel our hurts. We don’t want to remember painful memories. So we deny them. Maybe we get busy or overwork. Maybe we distract ourselves with entertainments or compulsions. Maybe we get angry and spew on people. We don’t want to cry or feel the pain so we repress it.
The Father Wound in Pastors
In counseling with pastors over the years I’ve found that many are hurting from a father wound. The personal and physical love of a father is something that we all need. It’s how God made us. So it’s very damaging for a child who grows up without a positive, warm, and encouraging bond with his or her father. Criticism or anger. Alcoholism. Abuse. Divorce. Abandonment. Emotional distance or just being too busy. A lasting father wound may come in many ways. When your father dies, especially if you’re young, it leaves a father wound.
If you have a father wound it may lead you on a painful or troubled path in life. For instance, many pastors with a father wound become ministry-aholics or addicted to praise and people pleasing. Over the years I’ve noticed that a larger than is typical percentage of pastors were closer to their mother than their father.
Men and women in all kinds of spheres of life may have a father wound. The first step in the emotional healing for a father wound that God wants to bring us is for us to feel the truth of what has hurt us. Then we can verbalize our emotions, memories, and needs to a safe person and to Jesus, whose arms are open to us to welcome us into Abba’s love. When we share our pain with a Christ’s Ambassador then we can receive our Heavenly Father’s comfort.
Father and Child Pictures
For healing conversations and prayers I find that a picture is worth a thousand words! Pictures are especially helpful for eliciting the memories, stories, and emotions that need Jesus’ healing touch.
Here are some pictures of fathers and children that I shared with the pastors and wives on retreat with me. We asked God to help each of us identify with one picture in particular that relates to the need our inner child had (and has) for the Father’s love. Then we gathered in groups of three to share and pray for one another.
Did your Father Hold your Hand?
Did your Father Delight in You?
Were you Secure in your Parents Love for Each Other and You?
Did your Father Play with You?
Did your Father Show you How to Do Things?
Did your Father Dance with You (in Spirit)?
Share and Pray
What picture stirs your heart? Perhaps a hurt or a memory surfaces? Maybe you feel a deep longing for a father’s love. Talk to Soul Friend about the impact of your relationship with your father. Pray that you’d grow to more and more trust and rely on your Heavenly Father’s love.
God is the Father from whom all true fatherhood derives it’s name (Ephesians 3:15). He is your loving Abba (Papa). You may need help from a Christ’s Ambassador (e.g., a counselor, minister of healing prayer, or Soul Friend) to experience God’s Abba love. Meditating on “Bible Verses on the Father’s Love” will also help.