Lately, God has been whispering to me about relational brokenness, particularly that caused by fathers and husbands, and why it hurts so much. One day last fall, I was doing dishes, thinking about a person I know who is somewhat difficult to be in relationship with and God began to speak to my heart about the roots of brokenness in her life that make it difficult for her to have healthy relationships. As He unpeeled the layers of hurt she has experienced, I began to weep over my pots and pans. My heart was overwhelmed with empathy for the pain in her life and also by the compassion and tenderness that I could sense God has for her. With the Holy Spirit heavy on me, I abandoned my dishes and got out my journal to record what I felt He was showing me. This is not a comprehensive study on the subject of relational brokenness, as there are many wounds caused by mothers, and many wounds that men bear as well. It is merely a glimpse into the window that God opened in my heart for this particularly painful kind of brokenness. This is what I wrote, with just a few minor edits to make it flow better:
We all have a deep need for an earthly father who provides three things:
1. Security – “You are safe.”
2. Leadership – “Follow me as I follow God.”
3. Unconditional Love – “I love you just as you are.”
When one or more of these needs is left unmet, whether by hurtful words, abandonment, passivity, selfishness or something else, a wound is created and a heart is broken. When women get married, our fathers, figuratively and sometimes literally, give our hand to our husband and those needs transfer to the husband as well. Because we now need the same three things from our husband that we needed from our father, a weak husband has the same effect as a weak father. God refers to Himself as our Father and to Jesus as the Husband of the Church–both earthly relationships were meant to be a reflection of God’s love for us, and both have the potential to cause great pain.
Out of a father’s weakness, we are wounded. The little girl who was supposed to know she is cherished and safe and valued is left alone and broken. She feels worthless and ugly and unsafe and unchosen. She tries to create security and love for herself by being valuable to others. She unknowingly marries a man like her father hoping for a better outcome this time or because she doesn’t expect any better. She gives tremendous amounts of love so she will receive it in return. People who don’t return it with the same depth are cut out. It feels like rejection to her–or a waste of time–because her impossibly deep love-need isn’t being filled by them.
The original Garden Plan, lived for a time by Adam and Eve, was for her to walk in perfect intimacy with all—her father, her husband and her One True Father. The earthly relationships would bring joy that only deepened her joy in her One True Father. Her needs would’ve been met, her heart full to pour out for the joy of others instead of as a cry, begging to be loved back.
But the Garden Plan broke when the people lost trust in their One True Father. And now all the broken fathers and husbands produce broken wives and children. But the brokenness can point us to the Father too. Just as the intimate, whole relationships with father and husband point to the One True Father, so do the broken ones. Where there is earthly brokenness there is great potential to see the One True Father/Husband just as He is—the only One who can really provide true security, love and leadership. The Only One who will never fail us. The One whose love is never dependent on our doing but is just because of our being. The One who never changes, but who gives up everything—His own Son—His own life—to bring us back to wholeness. It is through His own pain that we are able to have whole relationships on earth again. But they will never be a replacement for the One True Father/Husband love that He gives.
We must tuck under His wing and find refuge.
We must believe He loves us unconditionally and will keep us safe.
We must give Him our pain and fears and let Him make beauty out of them.
We must yield our hearts and trust Him completely even when we feel like we are walking in the dark.
We must remember we can’t see the whole picture, but He can.
We must give Him our husbands and fathers and allow Him to handle them.
We must let Him help us forgive.
We must offer love as a gift, not as a bartering tool.
We must ask for compassion for those that have hurt us and trust Him with our hearts as we offer it.
We must let His nurturing make us strong.
To you with a broken heart, you who carry wounds from your father or husband, you who find yourself reading this today, I believe God is standing before you saying:
I see you.
I’m sorry that the people I put in your life to take care of you and to reflect my love for you have wounded you instead.
But know this—I have never changed.
I am your Security.
I am the One who loves you exactly as you are.
I don’t need you to perform for me. I just want you to let me hold you.
I will show you the way to go if you yield to my way.
I am your One True Father.