Some of us grow up — or end up — soaking up the wounds of those we love. We may have found the inner strength in those moments to carry ourselves through. But, there will come a time to remember. There will come a time to heal.
Happy Father’s Day. May this post today bring encouragement to your heart today. This story became a chapter in my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. I hope it brings you close to God as Heavenly Father who calls you beloved. As is.
I was standing in the toy store aisle. Frozen.
I didn’t know what to do.
It was going to be our last visit together, after my parent’s divorce. But, I didn’t know it at the time. I was a little girl.
My father wanted to buy me a toy. But, my mother didn’t want me to return home with one. I wasn’t supposed to take anything from him.
So, I told him I didn’t want anything. I was okay.
But, I wasn’t.
It’s funny how the most terrible memories of the past can smooth out over the years to simply become a story you tell yourself. It’s a familiar scene that unrolls every now and then. What he said. What I said. How the floor of the store shimmered under the gloss of florescent lights. How happy my little sister was, picking toys off the shelf, like she won the lottery.
But, I never realized all the emotions I felt at that moment could be frozen inside me. I am learning that some of the stories that I’ve merely viewed as childhood memories are still live events — behind the steel trap door of my heart.
No, I haven’t buried them. No, I haven’t forgotten about them.
I’ve simply moved past them. By being strong. By surviving. By growing up.
By depending on God — in the sincerity of my heart — to move myself further away from the little girl in me. Who was afraid. Who didn’t know what to do.
But deep inside, that little girl is still there. Deep where I’ve never had any need for fear, confusion or neediness, there is a part of me who very much alive: the girl in me who carries my father’s wounds.
You can’t see that part of me looking on the outside. I certainly didn’t. Until recently.
The Right Thing
I started remembering — the look in my father’s eyes.
“Daddy can’t be with you anymore…” His voice stumbles. His head drops. I notice how straight his hair is parted to the side, as he crouches low.
I start to feel very nervous. It doesn’t feel right somehow. Him. So low. So close. Too low. Too close.
“Daddy just… wants… to…” He starts to choke back tears. Swallows hard. Looks straight into my eyes. I see pain.
He struggles to finish his sentence. Tries again. “Daddy… just… wants to… buy you a toy.“
I can’t tell you exactly what was running through my mind.
But, I know how I feel right then and there. Thickness fills my little body from the top of my head down, dropping down through the beating heart in my chest, to the bottom of my feet.
I feel trapped.
I don’t know what is the right thing to do anymore. I am afraid.
What should I do? Who will happen to him? What will happen to her?
What will happen to me?
As I stood there at the checkout register, with my father pulling out paper bills from the wad of cash he kept in his pocket, I felt frozen again. Fearful for what would happen after my ride home in his olive green Nova with the peeling roof.
I didn’t want him to pay for our new toys with his hard-earned cash.
But, as he placed the plastic bag of toys into my hands and tried to reassure me, “It’s gonna be okay… It’s gonna be okay…”, I knew it wasn’t going to be that way at all.
I am learning that day I took that plastic bag was also the day I began to carry my father’s wounds in my heart. These weren’t wounds he inflicted on me. They were ones I saw opening up in him.
These were wounds I tried to avoid by taking that toy back home with me.
These were wounds I wanted to soak up in me by my doing the right thing.
Things didn’t turn out okay that day. Even though I tried to do the right thing.
As I walked through this memory, with Jesus in the picture now as a grown up, I discovered a heart-altering realization.
I know, Bonnie. Jesus whispers.
I know this wound, Bonnie.
What do you want me to do? I ask Jesus.
You don’t have to do anything.
But, what do you want me to do? I ask again.
Stay. Here. With me.
Please. Do s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g about this. Tell me to do something about this feeling of restless helplessness. I want it to go away.
Let me. Stay here. With you.
“Why can’t I just let old wounds die?” I cry out.
Because they don’t.
Wounds don’t die. But, wounds can healed — if we make the choice — to face them with Jesus.
Our tender Jesus is never closer than that very moment our wounds become alive.
His love for our private feelings of helplessness and shame never surge deeper — as He holds us with deep compassion, heart aching and hating every moment of our pain.
Jesus hasn’t forgotten our wounding. Jesus hasn’t stopped loving us since.
Running Into Her
I don’t know if this story I’m sharing reads like a foreign tale from a land you’ve never visited. There’s a part of me that feels that I’m the only one. But, if perchance you find yourself like me — running into that little girl in you who is feeling —
between the right thing to do — and the reality of an overwhelming difficulty, painful relationship or heartbreaking loss —
I want you to know that I am alongside you — treading this water of perplexing circumstances that have placed you in front of your wounded self.
I am reaching out to you today, with a smile and many tears. To say Jesus is next to you. He is next to me.
And I want to encourage you.
I once believed the evidence of faith was having hope when the burden of carrying pain crushes our souls.
But, I’m discovering faith is equally flowing — maybe even more so — when we can fall into the arms of Jesus when we do feel hopeless — in order to know that the little girl in us can be safe and will be rescued.
Free to Remember
Is this such a time for you as well? Maybe like me, you find yourself unable to forget.
Maybe like me, Jesus doesn’t want you to forget.
Jesus wants us to be free to remember — the wounds we have carried, survived, or kept hidden.
We can be free to remember, so that we can be comforted. And to comfort each other.
He wants to say to you and me —
I know what you’ve carried. I’ve loved you completely.
Even back then. I haven’t forgotten.
You can be with me. This way.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”
~ God, Isaiah 49:1, 6, 15
Where are you with God walking into Father’s Day weekend?
Share a bit of your story? Click here to comment.
Who can you share today’s encouragement with?
For more words of encouragement, enjoy more chapters in my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
I feel like I’ve been healing right alongside you. I have been able to accept my dad’s weaknesses despite their painful impact on my life. Having brought the difficult memory that I hadn’t faced to Jesus, he has healed me because now my remembering isn’t laced with anger and bitterness. I wish my dad was in my life. I miss the relationship we had. Maybe I made more of it than was really there, but it’s because I loved him so much. Maybe he didn’t realise that he made such a difference in my early life. That I couldn’t have survived without him. And I wanted to keep that love, affection and gruff reassurance in my life through him but he made a different choice. So tonight I cry because it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. But having chosen to trust my Heavenly Father – I know that he will not turn from me. That in Him my longing is met.
[…] Healing When You Carry Your Father’s Wounds […]
A little over a year ago I sat face to face with my abuser. He told me specifically what he had done to me one particular morning. I have lived over 30 years knowing something had happened, but have not been able to remember. Now I know, but still have no memory of that morning. It was like he was talking about someone else. The emotions that I should have felt that morning are “frozen” inside, along with many other blocked memories and emotions. I have been working for over five years to remember and to feel, knowing I’m going to have to connect with those emotions in order to move forward.
Since his visit, I have been experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve recently made the choice to ask Jesus to join me in that place of anxiety and panic. I know something is leaking from my past, causing the anxiety, but I don’t know what. I’ve realized that I can’t figure it out. I can’t make it go away. I feel so alone. But Jesus knows where it’s coming from. He already has a plan to fix it. He understands better than anyone the “why” behind the panic. As I let Him stay there with me in it, I find it often shortens the duration of the attack. I find I feel a peace that is usually not present. I am finding that even thought I don’t like this anxiety, it gives me an opportunity to experience His Presence in a way I never have before.
Thank you for the reminder that “Jesus wants us to be free to remember-the wounds we have carried, survived,nor kept hidden. I’ve been ready to give up on trying to remember and feel. It’s been a long five years. I’ve told myself that I can live the rest of my life with the anxiety and panic as long as Jesus can be in it with me. But I don’t want to live this way forever. I’m thankful for His help as I walk this journey, but I know He desires for me to remember and feel. I can’t go back to how I was. I can’t stay where I am now……I pray God shows me the next step, I want to move forward.
I find such hope and encouragement from your story. Thank you for sharing your journey and being real.
Thank you again, Bonnie, for sharing precious stories, and good advice. May we all see God as our Heavenly Father, the Father of all fathers, today and always, in Christ. This is a poem I was led to share with my father, and various spiritual fathers the LORD has provided for me, in their Father’s Day cards this year:
(inspired by the movie)
By Harry Bolman, Feb. 15, 1999
Always on my mind and always in my heart.
You have been beside me, right from the very start.
On a voyage of great discovery in a journey through this land.
You have been protecting me, You’ve always held my hand.
When this body that I travel in was much younger than today.
From within I felt You near me, knew You’d guide the way.
It’s a source of constant comfort when the going does get hard.
To know You’d never leave me, You hold the open card.
I can definitely relate to your feelings this Father’s Day. I never enjoyed Father’s Day, and almost always tried to brush it off as silly, not important, etc. My father was in prison for most of my life….he abused my brother, and before he was married to my mom, he killed his daughter when she was only 2 months old. Not only that, she had the same first name as me…..I was born about 10 years after she was killed. I have had to lug this past around with me my whole life…to be strong, to ignore it, to see it as nonsense now that I am grown. That the past is the past, and I should just get over it now. But, as I got older every year…the wounds got deeper and deeper. God had to bring me to a horrible place of circumstances….and He wanted me to finally uncover it all and lay everything out there to Him. He wanted the wounds to be open again so He could finally heal them.
I don’t have a father in my life to spend today with – I never really had one at all…I sure wish my father was different and my past was different. But, it’s just part of my story…and I am so thankful for your book, Bonnie….God used your experiences and your past to get me to deal with my own. Thank you for being so open and allowing God to flow through you to reach others. I am so thankful for you Bonnie. I can’t wait to meet you in heaven! Thank you again…you are not alone this Father’s Day. You have a sister in Pennsylvania that is along in the journey with you. <3
Like you, I have learned that Jesus wants to come into those deep places in our hearts that we would rather choose to ignore or deny exist, in order to heal us. Your voice is important, Bonnie, and the writing Father has called you to do is making a Kingdom difference.
Bonnie I just finished reading your book. It literally was brought to me one morning when I felt alone after begging the Lord for someone who could understand what I am going through. 2 1/2 months ago I began to allow painful memories from sexual abuse from my childhood out. I have had some amazing people walking with me and counseling me but it is very hard when you don’t know anyone who has experienced or gone into healing their memories. The people I know who have suffered trauma are stuffers. Your book helped me to finally really look at the little girl that seems trapped behind a thick wall of protection. I am hoping to get past the fears that I have of what getting to that girl will look like. I don’t suffer the severity of panic attacks that you do but since letting the memories out I have experienced some minor attacks that have kept me from wanting to leave my house. I have gone from an extrovert who was the PTO Vice President and said yes to every volunteer opportunity or service project at my church to a homebody who a lot of days does not want to move from my room. I am writing this here hoping for a safe place to share fears and find some community and encouragement.
dear Lori, i can’t tell you how proud i am of your journey — and how you’re sharing your voice & story here. i am totally tracking with you & you are on a beautiful new journey of the soul – i know it definitely doesn’t feel that way — and it may not look that way to others on the outside – or even to you as you journey through this tender and unveiling of your heart — but it IS a beautiful transforming time. you are WORTH it. Your story, your voice — every chapter and every line Jesus is walking with you. And He is taking you by the hand and carrying you. I hope you can begin a joural & hopefully I pray the book’s writing prompts will give you permission to explore and answer those qutsions you’ve carried deep in your heart, but never hhad a chance to express. Don’t rush I know you want it to all be over, but love takes time and you are worth and cherished to become the beloved more and more everyday. I’m glad you are here, and I encourage you to read today’s post I just published. I have a new series I’m started & I think you’d love it! hugs to you!! happy yuo’re here and we’re connected. Keep being couragous and brave — just as you always have.