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Jimmy lived most of life questioning why his dad left him at such a young age. But he was convicted and compelled by the gospel to love and pursue his estranged father in an effort to extend forgiveness and reconciliation.

A Father’s Love

My parents went to church, and my grandpa was the pastor of our church back home. During one of the mid-week services, my grandpa was up preaching and he asked the congregation, “If you died tonight, where would you lift your eyes up?”

And I started asking myself that same question. God started showing me how much of a sinner I actually was. He showed me, in a small way, my own depravity and my need for Him. I remember crying out to Him, “God, I want you to save me!”

Right then and there, He called me by name and He saved my soul.

After that, a really sweet thing took place (I call it sweet now, but it didn’t seem sweet at the time)…

A couple days later was a Sunday. My mom, my sister and my grandmother decided to go to the mall. Then, at the last second, I decided not to go with them. They came back later, and I remember looking out and seeing my mom crying in the back seat of the car. Then, I saw my grandma crying, and my sister crying.

My grandma walked up to me and told me that they had all caught my dad cheating on my mom with another woman at the mall.

I remember being so angry at that moment that I wanted to punch a hole through the light post that was standing next to me.

But then, in that same moment, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I’m different. I’m changed. I’m saved. And I actually need to forgive my dad.

But that just wrecked me! At the same time, I was so angry at my dad! I didn’t want to forgive him. He hurt my mom!

Still, at that moment, I realized that I needed to forgive him.

A little while later, he came back to the house. My mom and dad were arguing – screaming pretty loud. The only thing I could think to do was to pray.

I really wanted my dad to leave. I just didn’t want them to argue any more about this situation.

I mean… I was just in the sixth grade!

So, I ran to my bed and prayed. I asked God to just make him leave. Then I heard my doorknob turn and my bedroom door crack open. I heard my dad’s footsteps come through my door. The only thing I could think to do was to scream, “Daddy!”

He looked at me and the only thing I could say was, “Daddy, I love you.”

I said those words, and my own flesh and blood—my dad— looked me right square in the eyes, and just turned and walked out the house. He didn’t say a word.

That just broke my heart. I began to weep.

But, then God reminded me that I didn’t need my dad’s love.

I am loved by my Heavenly Father!

And that was all I needed.

All the way through high school, I continued to pray for my dad. When I got to college, I just stopped caring. In fact, I stopped praying about it.

I met a young man, who was in choir with me, and he asked me about my testimony. After I finished telling him my story, he asked me, “When was the last time you prayed for your dad? Actually, when was the last time you prayed for y’all’s relationship?”

I just sat back and said, “It’s been a long time.”

So, I went back to my dorm and said, “OK, Lord… I want to start praying for my and my dad’s relationship. I know it’s not good right now, and I want it to change. I want to know my dad more.”

After that, I began to call my dad. I’d call him almost every day. Many times, he didn’t answer the phone. And many times, he didn’t call me back. And there were many times when he would talk with me. And at the end of the call, I would say, “Alright Daddy… I love you.” And he wouldn’t say a thing. He’d just hang up the phone.

This happened for many years. But, I continued to pray for him and pursue him. I just kept running after him.

I actually wrote a couple songs about how I felt during that time, and how my mom felt, too. And, at one point, I actually sang one of the songs to him. I could hear my dad crying on the other end. I could feel the hurt within him. He began to repent to me. He said, “Son, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the things that I’ve done.”A Father’s Love

When we were saying goodbye, I said, “Daddy, I love you.”

And he actually said, “I love you”, back to me.

It touched my heart so much to hear those words.

And after that night, he actually started calling me! He was calling me even more often than I was calling him. He even would tell me he loved me without me saying it at all.

I look at all this, and I can clearly see how God has reconciled our relationship, and I see the Gospel in that.

I can see, through this story, how Christ has continually pursued me.

Oddly enough, I’m glad that all this stuff happened. Because, if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be the man who I am today. I would not know Jesus as well as I know Him if my dad had not done the things that he did. The times when my dad wasn’t there, I learned that my Heavenly Father was always there. He would always provide when my dad wouldn’t provide for me. When I needed somebody to tell me that he loved me, my Heavenly Father would show me how much He loved me in so many different ways!

At one point, I called my dad and said, “Daddy, I don’t want you to say a word. I’ve just got some things that I need to tell you. God has used you in a great way – to push me to want to know Him more. And, I’m closer to God because of you.”

The next day, my dad called me, and said, “Okay… it’s my turn. Let me tell you something, and I don’t want you to say a word…”

And he went on to say things that I had never heard him say before. He told me how proud he was of me. He told me how I pushed him closer to God.

I see now how God has used me to display, in a way, a part of the Gospel in my dad’s life.

Reconciliation.

I’m thankful that God has reconciled our relationship. And to this day, me and my dad are really close. I look forward to the day when he calls me to tell me that he is saved, and I’m not going to stop praying for that!

I want God to call him by name.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Reflections of Grace Slider

Because I am an advocate that stands up for those who have been victims of childhood abuse and….

Because I am a healed survivor of my own past of childhood abuse…

  • I once again feel the need to speak up on behalf of that group of people that even the church tries to shush up…because the disclosure is so uncomfortable for them…so it is easier to sweep it under the rug and pretend we don’t know these things are happening every day.
  • When are we going to start confronting the elephant in the room that most will ignore and pretend is not there?
  • Silencing victims by saying that this shouldn’t be talked about, or should remain within families, says to a victim that this is something to be ashamed of.
  • That they are in fact damaged goods.

When these crimes are called out and discussed in a public forum, the offender alone should bear both the responsibility and the shame. These matters need to be discussed not only for prevention, but also for healing.

Victims need to be heard. They need to be believed. They need to know that what happened was not their fault. We bear witness to their suffering when we give them a voice.

  • The only way we can ever hope to stop abuse is if we are willing to talk about it and admit that it happens.  We need to allow them to speak out!  To be transparent without fear of reprisal or shame or embarrassment. We also need to acknowledge that the Christian community is not exempt from this horror.   But it is not something that is often spoke about or expose within the church gatherings.

I believe this will change.

  • As Ann Voscamp so adequately puts it, “Because People of the Church are to be those who stand up so safe places open up, who lead by always going lower, who expose and confront abuse everywhere they find it, so the hope of the Gospel can be of use anywhere it goes.

  • Because People of the Cross are to be witnesses for the suffering, and responders to the victims, and testifiers of Truth, no matter the cost, no matter the risk, because Christ is The Truth — and where there isn’t Truth, there isn’t Christ. Why ever hide or cover-up the Truth?”

And to those still walking in their victimhood:

Our wounds from childhood abuse bring messages with  them…they have a common  theme of “your worthless, you  have no value, you are a  flawed person, no one will  love you, you are ugly” ….

And when those wounds were delivered to you with such pain, they felt true.

They pierced your heart.

So, you accepted the message as fact.  You embraced the worthless verdict on yourself.

  • The vows of silence we made as children act like a deep-seated agreement with the messages of our wounds.  Because it was all about survival.   There was nothing else that could penetrate that agreement with our pain.  The vows we made acted like a kind of covenant with the messages that came with our deep wounds.

And it is a deep hole of darkness.

  • We know that the Word tells us where two or three agree on a matter it shall be done.  This can work in the negative as well.  When we, as victims of our past, set ourselves in agreement with the enemy that there is something wrong with us, we begin to live in exactly that place.

Those childhood vows are very dangerous things.  They change the course of our life.

  • We have to renounce the messages as lies … it is the way to unlock the door to Jesus.  Agreements lock the door from the inside.  Renouncing the agreements unlocks the door to Him….

To Jesus…

He will move into those heavily veiled places within our soul and be there with us  in that place of pain and  abuse… and deliver us and  heal us from the past.  I don’t know how He does it.  But I can attest to the fact that He does.

Because he did for me!

To you precious abuse survivors reading this:

  • Never forget that there is hope for healing. Although life after trauma is messy and working through the pain is difficult, it is absolutely worth the fight.
  • May you rest in the hope of a God who cradles his wounded children in his arms as his own body is wracked with tears for the suffering you have endured.

And He will heal you to the point that the past will not affect your future.

  • He will feed His flock like a shepherd:  He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them in His bosom and  will gently lead those that have their  young. Isaiah 40:11

Jesus I give myself to you.  I give my life to you.  I surrender me… totally and completely.   Forgive all my hurtful ways.  Forgive my self-protecting ways and all of my chasing after other comforters.  Come and be my savior, healer, my love…

(If you are a survivor of childhood abuse and haven’t worked through the steps to healing please contact me for coaching on my home page or leave a comment here.)

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Reflections of Grace Slider

I want to give you a few examples from former clients, with fictional names of course, of what I have come to recognize as a father wound…

  • Caden had trouble just being himself…He always had to wear a mask of perfection for fear of not being accepted.  No one knew the real Caden.  Inside he yearned for love and validation and thought the only way he could do that is be someone other than who he is.  Underneath he had violent anger always brewing.  What is at the root?  His father left him when he was 6 and said he wasn’t ever coming back to live with him again.  In the ensuing years, his father would come to town to visit his new wife’s family and wouldn’t even call Caden.  Caden found out through his friends.  It was a small town.  So, Caden had a split personality.  One side of him was raging, but he kept it carefully hidden…most of the time.  The other side of him was the perfect family man loved by all.  He was a walking time bomb.
  • Maddy has spent her life yearning for her Dad’s attention, but time and again his attention went to alcohol instead.  She adored her dad, but he was always distracted with his heavy need for a numbing agent because of his own pain and his own father wounds.  When she was a teen, Maddy’s dad was arrested for vehicular manslaughter and went to jail….now, Maddy lost all sense of who she was in this world.  It took her many years to learn her worth outside of her Dad.  He loved her, but alcohol ruled him most of her life.  He was an absent Dad.
  • Joyce’s dad left when she was a adolescent.  Joyce was molested when very young by another family member. Her dad couldn’t handle this so left the family to go out on his own.  When her dad abandoned her, Joyce sought male attention through her boyfriends and was led into a world of sex and drugs, and eventually married an alcoholic, which ended in more rejection.  Joyce thinks today that there is not a man that can be trusted.
  • Tom heard his dad rage at his mom for years.  As a little boy, he would lock himself in his room and put his head under the pillow to try to drown out the yelling.  He became very introverted and quiet.  He isolated himself and was afraid to trust anyone for years.  He began to feel his dad’s rage and struggled with his lack of direction in life with no role model.  Today he is not sure how he feels about God.

There are many father’s that are physically available, but not emotionally. They satisfy the material needs for their families, but are incapable of fulfilling the need for intimacy and connection in their children.abusive father

‘Every man carries a wound.  And the wound is nearly always given by his father.” ~ John Eldredge

All of these people I have talked about have a hard time relating to God as their Father…their “Abba, Daddy.”

I, too, for many years, had a hard time relating to God as Daddy– but more to Jesus as my constant companion.  I was a victim of incest by my dad and spent my years growing up avoiding being alone with him.  It is hard to relate to what an earthly dad should be like, or one who makes you feel safe when you are with him.

A father is one of the most important role models in our lives.  To feel loved and accepted by your dad is vital to you having a healthy relationship with God and with others.  Unfortunately, there are many of us who didn’t have that.

Does that mean we are exempt from having a healthy relationship with our loving God, the Father, if we didn’t have a Dad that was trustworthy?  Of course not!

There is nothing impossible with God.  We just have to be willing to do the work!

Some of our deepest wounds stem from a lack of intimacy with our earthly fathers.

If men don’t seek God’s healing from this wound they will likely repeat this pattern in their own lives with their children.  If women don’t seek God’s healing from lack of intimacy with a safe Dad, they too, will repeat the patterns down through the generations of their families by choosing men that are like their Dads in order to somehow to fulfill her own needs of a dad by repeating the process.

But, good news…

  • You have the power to break this generational pattern, starting with your own healing!
  • If you struggle with understanding and receiving God’s love, it may be related to the internal pain caused by the lack of affection from your father.  The father wound will block you not only from knowing God’s love for you, but also from your ability to love others fully.

But, the good news is, there are some steps you can take to find restoration for your broken heart.  Your past does not have to dictate your future.  Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and to be everything we need!

Embracing the Father’s love is at the core of living the abundant life that Christ died for you to live.

As painful as it may be, you must re-visit the past and find where the gaps are.  Go back to the times you felt rejected or hurt by your dad and face those painful memories.  Maybe he didn’t protect you or keep you safe, or maybe he was never around.  Whatever the case, write down any thoughts you may have. This is an important step towards resolving your pain.

  • Try to discover and face the emotions you have carried with you due to the lack of love you’ve received from your father.
  • Allow yourself to grieve for the little child that was robbed of the rich relationship that comes from an attentive, caring father.  It was a loss you must recognize so you can allow the Lord to now come and fill that empty place.  Here are some steps to help you get there.
  1. Step one in your healing from the father wound is to face your pain and to step out of denial.  Admit you have been wounded.
  2. Step two, once you can admit that you have been wounded by your father, you can start the process of recovery.
  • Go to your Father in Heaven and talk to Him about your sadness and pain.  The truth is that He is the only one that can heal the father wound you carry.  He is the only one that you can count on to never fail you or leave you.
  • You can trust Him to carry you through your journey of healing.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the areas of your life that are bruised or damaged.
  1. Step 3 is to forgive your dad.
  • This step may be the most painful one, but it is the most critical one.
  • Forgiveness is a process that starts with prayer.  Pray through gritted teeth if you have to, but push yourself to pray and ask God to help you to forgive your dad.  Remember, forgiveness is not saying what you did to me is okay.  It is saying I release you to God so that I am no longer tied to the pain.
  • Extend grace to your earthly father for all the imperfections he has.  Forgive him for every pain he has caused you.  Say it out loud.  Cry if you need to cry.
  • If possible, have a friend with you for this step, for support and encouragement.
  • Set yourself free from the father wound by faith and allow your heavenly Father to heal you.
  1. Step four is to recognize that only God the Father can fulfill all your needs through His son, Jesus.
  • It’s never too late to let God replace His love for that which was missing from your earthly father.

“A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing.” Psalm 68:5-6

Take a risk, open your heart and fully grasp the Father’s love for you.  He is your ultimate Daddy, and He adoringly calls you His child. 

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

May the Lord guide you and comfort you as you surrender your father wound to Him, and may you be healed forever so that you can live a rich and satisfying life.

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children.  Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.‘” ~ Romans 8:15

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Real Stuff My Dad Says: Jefferson’s Adoption Stories from Jefferson Drexler on Vimeo.

Jefferson takes a short break away from his dad this week to share the story about how Rod actually became his dad… and how we ALL have the opportunity to become adopted by a Father far greater and filled with much greater wisdom and benefits than Rod or any other dad here on earth.

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