Scripture- “the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” – Proverbs 3:2
Insight: – I admit that sometimes I allow the relationship I had with my earthly father to influence my view of my Heavenly Father. While I know this is the most unfair comparison possible, I think it is natural to take something that we have experienced and use it as a tool for comparison. Because of the longing for my earthly father’s affirmation, which never came, I sometimes think that God doesn’t see me or understand what I am feeling. But how foolish that is! Psalm 139 lets me know that the exact opposite is true. My Father in heaven not only sees me, but He knows everything about me. Still, I think that often times we assign our human relationship experiences to our ones with God. It can make us doubt, it can make us afraid, it can make us intimidated, it can make us hesitate, it can cause us to avoid. While these things are all to our detriment, it is easy to understand why and how that could happen.
So, what’s the antidote for this? To read scripture with such vigor and thoroughness as to understand that there really is no comparison between the love of our Heavenly Father and whatever our experiences were with our earthly fathers. Are you holding back in your relationship with God due to the pain of your relationship with your earthly father? I understand, and I have been there. But over time I realized this was a big mistake and I asked God to reveal His true nature to me and He repeatedly has in such a way that made all of the pain of my relationship with my earthly father disappear. He will do the same for you if you seek Him and share your deepest emotions with Him. He knows them anyway. As Chris Tomlin sings in the song “Good, Good Father” you can be sure that in our lives “we’re all searching for answers that only He can provide.” Don’t let the pain of your relationship with your earthly father keep you from experiencing the love and joy of the relationship with your Heavenly Father. He is waiting to fill the void that may exist as a result of that earthly relationship not turning out the way you had planned or dreamed about. He alone can take away all the pain and offer a fresh start. Will you trust Him? He is a good, good Father indeed!
When I was a kid, I would move heaven and earth to not miss a football game of my favorite team, the Buffalo Bills. In other words, we make time for what we prioritize in our lives. What is more important than your kids? Make them your highest priority! Show them by how much time you invest in their lives!
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;”- Psalm 103:13
Our highest moral calling as a father is to lead our kids in a way that brings delight to the Lord. He is our ultimate Father, so don’t let the scars of your relationship with your dad keep you from being the dad to your children that God desires. Be the change for them that they so deserve!
Scripture- “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”- Ephesians 1:7
Insight: Have you been hurt by your Father? Has there been generational abuse, alcoholism or abandonment in your family? That pain is real and it stings. It’s effects can plague us for a lifetime. I know, because I have been a part of that cycle. But I also know that God can break the cycle and have us been the one to break the generational sin in our family. We can’t do this in our own strength. It is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 says so: “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We can be the Father to our children that we never had. God wants this for us. Because we have been redeemed through His blood, as Ephesians 1:7 says above, and forgiven for our sins, we can and must forgive our Fathers who have hurt us. It is the only way to move forward, and to be for our kids what we never got from our dads. Our reward will be large in Heaven for the courage to change the narrative.
I have been amazed as I have talked to men throughout my life, how many of them carry around lasting scar tissue from their relationships with their father. i can relate because I had the same issue from age 12-37. As men, when we don’t receive the affirmation and love from our father’s that we need, especially as boys or young men, the effects of that can last a lifetime. In fact, most men I meet when I ask them about how their relationship is with their dad, they usually don’t answer, they look away, or they get a little choked up. In general, about 7 out of 10 men carry some deep wound from their father that is most likely still have an effect on them years later, and mostly with bad consequences. Men simply have a hard time processing the pain that can come from a bad, distant, neglectful, non-existent or abusive relationship with their father. In most cases, including my own experience, we simply try to anesthetize the pain, or we run from it using anything we can to shield us from the deep wound. It could be drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or anything else that gives us a temporary “high” and helps us to feel better about ourselves no matter how fleeting that feeling is.
It is rare that men are willing to take the time to do deep introspection and really acknowledge the pain they feel and admit they need help. In my case, i tried running for 25 years, until one day I got tired of running and acknowledged how much I needed help. How about you? Are you tired of running? Are you looking for someone to help you find solutions to what ails you? Are you ready to forgive your Father? Let’s talk about it. Everyone has a story and every story matters. I found out the greatest news ever. No matter how much my Father had failed, I had a heavenly Father who loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for my sins and to teach me how to forgive and begin my life with new purpose and clarity. God knows your pain and He wants to heal you. He calls us chosen in Ephesians 1:4-6 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Let’s discuss it. Send me a message at DougHallmedia.com/wounds-of-our-fathers.
My prayer is that this story and my experience will help bless others who have carried the wounds of their Father’s with them for a long time and how God alone is able to heal the scar tissue of these broken relationships. Only He can mend, heal and restore the pain and use it for good. Here are the steps I refer to as I share my journey to healing and forgiveness from the wounds of my father.
Pray- God is a God of completion who never wastes anything. He is a God of reconciliation and renewal. We welcome him into this space and pray He would give me the words to speak into people’s lives who need to hear this message. Amen.
Intro- For some Father’s Day is the greatest day of the year, but for many, it brings up painful and tough memories. Many people did not have a dad or a relationship with their dad that they wanted. My story is the latter, but it is about what God did through my pain to bring healing, forgiveness and reconciliation at some levels and I hope it speaks right to your heart, for as long as we still have time on the clock, we can be confident that God can mend if the biggest wounds.
- Pain- Dad leaves at age 12- Dad was hero- suddenly fearful. No affirmation and no self-worth. Cannot fake showing up. Dad said he would be there, but dad would not be there- led to even more brokenness and pain. He supported my new stepmom’s kids more than he did me and my brother. Why? Why wasn’t he there for us- what was lacking.
- Coping and survival mode kicks in and from age 13-37 I was a person just trying to cope with life. We did not have faith, so I had nowhere to turn other than to things that would anesthetize my pain- marijuana, alcohol, sex, gambling – you name it. No resolution was forthcoming- my dad was riddled with false pride and his own issues, and I had nowhere to run, because I did not know God- so I ran to whatever would ease my pain. While I continued to “perform” for the world, inside I was an empty soul. No contentment made up happiness, self-loathing was a common feeling.
- Age 37- I meet and start dating my neighbor- who is now my wife. She tells me about coming to church with her sometime. I have no idea- I go to sports bar to watch Buffalo Bills, she goes to church. One day I decide to join her, and I had no idea but on that day everything changes. The Pastor was on stage speaking, but it was Jesus tugging at my heart. He told me He was my Heavenly Father, that He loved me, and that He had been waiting for me my whole life. I broke down in tears at his acceptance of me- for the first time I felt real worth. I was overwhelmed with join in learning scripture that taught me how God loved me that He sent Jesus to die for my sins, that I was His child, Beloved, that He knew everything about me. That he had always been with me, had never abandoned me and that He wanted what was best for me. And then, he spoke to my heart and said I need you to forgive your father. I said what? He needs to apologize to me! How can this be? He said you are angry and rightfully so, but the burden you have been carrying is to heavy a load and it will crus you. In your anger and bitterness, it’s as if you are drinking poison and hoping your father gets sick. This is what is best- forgiveness! Well, that night I wrote a 12 page letter forgiving my father for ever thing I could think of that had made me so mad and held me in bondage and when I finished and sealed it in an envelope, I felt like a 25 year weight the size of a grand piano had been lifted off my back. It was so cathartic. I was finally free from my pain and anger and bitterness. I had been waiting my whole for this, searching for it in all the wrong places, so when I got done, 25 years’ worth of tears came streaming out. I felt so much lighter and less burdened. It was the best day of my life. The day my life being a new. I look at my life now as P.C AND AC- Pre-Christ and after Christ and boy do, I like the after Christ better! I no longer had to run away from my pain, I could now run to the love of Christ, my Lord and my Savior, He was always and is enough for me.
- As I began to grow in my faith, I had a deep appetite to learn as much as I could about Jesus and the Gospel. I remember how everything truly felt new in my life, I was truly a new creation, the old was gone, the new was here. I would try to read a few pages of the Bible a day at first, but it did not always make much sense. I tried to surround myself with mentors like Pete McKenzie, and I tried to learn how to pray. I quickly realized that God honored my attempts to pray, no matter how feeble they seemed. I learned the power of repentance. In fact, one-night I just asked God to reveal all of the hidden sin in my life and to bring it into the light. To my surprise, the session lasted around 3 hours, but again at the end I felt so much lighter, again like a huge weight had been lifted off my back. I have come to love the idea of God as the One alone who can remove my burdens and redeem my pain. I began to reach out to my father more and tried to explain the newfound faith I had. While I tried to share it with him, and asked if he had received my latter, he said he didn’t really understand it, but he was glad I had forgiven him if he had hurt me. Sin will do that- make us blind to the pain we are causing to other people if we are not aware. I continued to let go of my past, stop using marijuana that same day and it has now been 18 years and I am so glad I no longer have to run from something in my past, but now can run to someone who is always there to meet me right where I am and I can find the answers to any of my problems in His word. It truly is a treasure; it is just up to me to open it each day and explore all it has to offer- the answers to every question in life.
- Well- soon after this experience at church, I asked my neighbor to marry me. We were married in February 2005, and in December 2005 (you do the math) we were overjoyed to receive our first child into this world, a little baby boy named Max. 21 months later we had our daughter Emma. I was so grateful that God had given me a chance to be a dad, to two lovely children, and I vowed to eb the best day I could, to make up for all the pain I had felt when my dad didn’t really seem to have time for me. That has been a big lesson to me as a dad, is that there is nothing more important that spending time with our kids. Time is the greatest gift because it lets them know they are a priority in our life. We spend time with what we value and prioritize in our life. Alignment matters. God, family, country and then everything else seems to work best for me. We can’t fake showing up- if we promise to be there, then we need to move heaven and earth to be there. In being a Dad, I have seen how God wastes nothing. There is no experience in my life that I can look back on now and see how it isn’t be used to help me be a better dad and person. Sometimes the tapestry of our life looks messy, but God is weaving the most beautiful tapestry and each of our lives has incredible value and worth because we are each a piece of His grand puzzle. Like how Joseph forgave his brothers and God redeemed all His pain and made Him in charge of all of Egypt under Potiphar, I have also come to see how Romans 8;28 can work in practical ways in our life. He uses all things for good that put their trust in him in the long run. He is a God of love and redemption and reconciliation. Although, I do not know if my dad ever received Jesus into his heart as Lord and Savior, I do know he let me pray for him a few times before he passed from this earth. I am grateful that God took away all the pain from my broken relationship with my dad and gave me a chance to be the dad to my children I never had. What an amazing, miracle working God we serve.