Yesterday was Father’s Day. For some, Father’s Day, triggers memories from childhood hurt. I understand. Most of you know my story. While my father did some wonderful things and preached Jesus, he also sexually abused me. The sexual abuse left an indelible imprint on my life and faith. I didn’t deal with the scars from the abuse until well into my adult life, when I could no longer run from the truth. So how did I find healing from the hurt?
Healing was a difficult and long journey but along the way there were some intentional choices that I made. Each choice took courage and honestly, I didn’t always stand firm. At different times in my healing journey, I experienced setbacks. Sometimes, I faltered and wanted to quit. The reason I persisted was because my relationship with my heavenly Father was and is the most important relationship in my life. The bottom line is that God wanted healing in my life. In order to find healing, I had to cooperate.
My prayer for you is that these choices will be helpful no matter what your relationship with your earthly parent. None of our earthly parents were or are perfect. All of them are flawed.
Intentional Choices of Healing that I Made:
- I separated my earthly father from my heavenly Father. I remember the day I sat by myself with a folded sheet of paper. On one side I listed the characteristics of my earthly father. On the other side I listed the characteristics of my heavenly Father. Creating that list was extremely helpful for me. God is never in favor of sexual abuse or any other kind for that matter. In order to re-build my broken trust in God, I needed the reminder that God was good, pure and holy and not in favor of the abuse.
- I praised God by faith for His love for me. I put reminders of God’s love for me around my home. I underlined key verses and memorized scriptures that taught the love of God. I listened to praise music that reminded me of the deep love God felt for me. I saturated my mind with the love of Christ. As I faithfully praised God for His love, the Holy Spirit was able to move the truth of God’s love from my head down into my heart.
- I looked for characteristics of the Father heart of God in the men I respected. My husband, Steve and my father-in-law, Don Harling were incredibly helpful to me. Both of them are men of integrity who model a consistent loving walk with Jesus. And they love me!
- I practiced pouring out my heart to God. Sexual abuse silenced my voice. As a child, I didn’t have a say in what was happening to me. But God invites me to have a voice. I learned to come boldly into God’s presence and pour out my desires and God listened. The more I poured out my heart, the more the Holy Spirit strengthened my trust.
- I forgave my earthly father. Forgiveness is never an easy journey. It’s usually not a “one time” for all deal. It’s doesn’t excuse the sin or set your perpetrator free. While it’s an excruciating choice, in the end it sets you (If you’d like to read more about my journey towards healing and forgiveness you’ll find more in Rewriting Your Emotional Script and Freedom From Performing. Both books are published by Navpress.)
Friend, I’m not sure what your relationship was like with your earthly father, but I know that your heavenly Father loves you more than you can imagine. “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-18).