Because of God, you are never fatherless.
by Kia Stephens
Warm sands and beautiful beaches characterized the landscape my parents looked at from the Norwegian cruise ship where they met. My mother was on a girls’ trip, and my father was the waiter assigned to their table. With charm, handsome features, and culinary expertise, my dad was the server at every meal for the group — and my mother.
Somewhere between the ship’s departure and return to the States, my parents started a relationship. After the cruise ended, they corresponded by writing letters until my father’s tenure on the ship was complete. He then moved to the United States, and they married.
It may sound romantic but their marriage was short-lived. They divorced not long after their marriage. What my mom didn’t realize prior to marrying my father was that she, like me, had father wounds. Unbeknownst to her, my father did too.
Pain and Shattered Dreams
My father carried the wound of losing his dad throughout his life. I believe it was a loss he couldn’t shake and a wound he continued to process long after I was born. In saying that, a father’s wounds don’t justify him wounding his children, but they do offer a new perspective. They give us another lens through which to view our fathers. Thus, we’re enabled to see our fathers as human beings with their own set of hurts to overcome.
Though it seems logical to expect a father to father his children, some may not have the tools to do it. Expecting him to give what he didn’t receive will lead to disappointment. This was something neither my mom nor my dad recognized prior to getting married.
Before my mom and dad said, “I do,” there was no group or one-on-one premarital counseling, no married couple seminars, and no self-help marriage books. They simply took the leap and dealt with the consequences. They weren’t ready for marriage.
Consequently, they divorced not long after they had me. I was born into a broken home. My mother raised me the best she knew how, while attempting to process her own pain and shattered dreams. My father did the same, although his struggles with alcohol often came with costly results. Those results included him missing out on being a father to me.
My father missed every first and last day of school, every birthday party, and every holiday celebration. Though I longed for daddy-daughter date nights, they were not in the plans for me.
As difficult as it is to share these parts of my story, I know I’m not alone.
Statistics show that one in four children grow up in father-absent homes. This statistic doesn’t specify whether the absenteeism of the father is a result of divorce, abandonment, abuse, incarceration, drug addiction, an affair, premature death, or a physically present but emotionally absent father. No matter how a child experiences the absence of his or her father, it leaves this individual with a father wound from which it may take a lifetime to heal.
What’s your story? Was your relationship with your father everything you wanted and needed it to be, or is there a place in your heart where you long for your father’s love and affection? How has the relationship with your biological father impacted you?
We don’t get to choose our fathers or the circumstances in which we are born. We may find ourselves questioning how a good God and a loving heavenly Father could allow women and men to grow up with less-than-ideal fathers. He can provide every child with a loving and present earthly father, but He doesn’t. Scripture reminds us in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” We view life through a limited and finite perspective, but God’s view is infinite. He has a purpose and a plan for our less than ideal father/child relationship and the circumstances surrounding our birth. God wastes nothing. The reality that He allows men and women to grow up in father-absent homes doesn’t negate the truth that He is good — and good to us.
God Heals Our Wounds
Father wounds are an unfortunate byproduct of the sin that entered our world when Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they disobeyed God an unstoppable avalanche of consequences was set into motion. Those consequences include broken families. An absent father never has been and never will be God’s idea.
God isn’t unfair in what He allows. Jesus tells us in John 16:33: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world.” But then He goes on to encourage us: “Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (v. 33).
In this life we will have trouble. Our version of trouble may feel more unfair and intense than the next person, but we can’t gauge whether someone’s pain is worse than what we experience. We all experience pain in this life, but the presence of pain doesn’t nullify the nature of God.
God isn’t a dictator, distant, or aloof. He is our sovereign, loving, accessible, faithful, concerned, and compassionate heavenly Father. Psalm 34:18 reminds us, “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”
If your heart is aching over your father, Scripture says God is close to you. If your spirit is crushed by the weight of your pain, God is able to rescue you. No matter how wounded you may feel there is hope for all of us with father wounds.
Psalm 147:3 tells us, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Although this Scripture is specifically referring to the exiles of Israel, I believe these words are applicable to those with father wounds. In this verse, God is reminding us that our pain isn’t beyond His tremendous power. He is able to reach into our past and heal our soul.
“He heals” means this healing is ongoing. It’s not a one-time deal, but rather a supernatural act that can occur over and over in the life of the brokenhearted. For as much and as long as we need healing, God’s compassionate care is available to us.
The Hebrew word for “brokenhearted” is defined as the inner man: encompassing the mind, will, and emotions. God is capable of healing our unseen places. He not only heals the soul of the brokenhearted, but He also binds up our wounds.
This is my favorite part of this Scripture because the word “wounds” is plural. This means it doesn’t matter how many wounds we identify in our lives, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, God is able to heal them all. He takes the time to tenderly bandage the wounded places in our souls so that we can be made whole.
One day the sting of father wounds will be gone completely. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes once and for all. (See Rev. 21:4.) This is a promise we have, and an eternal hope found only in God, our heavenly Father. No matter what type of earthly father we experience, God is a perfect heavenly Father to us, and He promises to bind up all our wounds.
Kia Stephens is the founder of Entrusted Women, which she created to equip Christian women communicators of color. A contributing writer for iBelieve.com, Beloved Women, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and Crosswalk, she is a recurring speaker at She Speaks, Beloved Women’s Conference, and the Entrusted Women’s Conference.