Father Wounds

As we continue to digest the powerful sermon from this week, please heed what Pastor Dave said – masculinity is NOT toxic, masculinity is NOT a sin. God created masculinity in the Garden of Eden and it is GOOD. The first thing God does after He creates Adam and Eve is He blesses them (Genesis 1:26-31). Masculinity is a blessing from God. As we reflect on our lives, please remember that this journey towards healing is absolutely not about placing blame. It is about curiously reflecting on the origins of some of our present-day behavior in an effort to give the pain to God to allow Him to heal us. 

While masculinity isn’t toxic, our unhealed pain can become a toxic influence in our lives. This week we touched on the influence of father wounds in our lives. I have heard various versions of the saying “we repeat what we don’t repair” over and over in the counseling setting. While I did not come up with the saying myself, it is something I’ve witnessed to be true in both our emotional and spiritual lives. Father wounds – we all have them, but they don’t all look the same. Let’s consider the father wounds of some of our biblical brothers:

  1. Joseph (Genesis 37-50) -We learned about Joseph in last week’s sermon. We learned that Joseph’s father, Jacob, had favorites. It plainly says in Genesis 37:3 that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. It would be easy to shame Jacob and blame him for his parenting style. But if we look at Jacob’s story, we will see that he himself has a father wound. Jacob’s father, Isaac, favored Jacob’s brother Esau (Genesis 25:28). We see the evidence of Jacob repeating what he didn’t repair in how he raised his own sons – Isaac (Jacob’s father) favored his older brother Esau, and Jacob favored his son Joseph. Because of Jacob’s unhealed father wound, his family suffered. 
  2. Once you hear Jacob’s story, it’s more difficult to shame him because we see that he was simply repeating what he learned from his father – he allowed an unhealed wound to reflect in his parenting style. 
  3. We don’t even have to stop there – if you back the story up even farther to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, you will see that Abraham sent his oldest son Ishmael away. Abraham was an absent father to his oldest son. So Isaac grew up in a home where he was favored above his older brother Ishmael, and as a result, Isaac favored his oldest son Esau. Family cycles repeat. 
  4. Joshua (Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua) –Joshua worked for Moses; he was an apprentice of sorts (Exodus 33:11). We know that while Joshua was working with Moses, an entire generation of Israelites, likely including Joshua’s parents, died in the desert. As Moses nears his death, and Joshua gears up to take over the leadership position in Israel, God directs Moses to encourage Joshua before he dies (Deuteronomy 1:38). Joshua was about to go on a holy mission, and he needed encouragement. 
  5. Now if we consider the story of Moses, we will see that Moses wasn’t raised by his biological father, but by a single mother -Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:10). When Moses’s sin drives him deep into the desert, he becomes close to his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro becomes his mentor, and along Moses’s journey of leading the Israelites, Moses learns a great deal of wisdom from Jethro (Exodus 18). Jethro was a good mentor to Moses, and in turn, Moses was a good mentor to Joshua. 
  6. The point being made here is that even if you didn’t know your father, there may be some good influences in your life that God has provided for you, just like Jethro was to Moses, and Moses was to Joshua. 
  7. Gideon (Judges 6–8) - Gideon’s father was an idolater, his father literally had alters to false gods on his property (Judges 6:25). God comes to Gideon with a special assignment (Judges 6:11-14) – God first asks Gideon to remove those alters to false gods, and then God will use him to lead the Israelites to victory. 
  8. Gideon had an unhealed father wound, he was afraid of his father and of the wrath of the Israelites (Judges 6:27). So what does Gideon do when God comes to him with an assignment? He is doubtful, fearful, and insecure (Judges 6:15). 
  9. Because of Gideon’s father wounds, he projected his relationship with his earthly father onto his heavenly Father. And when God came and placed a holy calling on Gideon’s life, Gideon was afraid, insecure, and asked for confirmation three times (Judges 6:17, 36-40), not believing in himself or in the God who called him to a mission. 
  10. It is vital to note how God interacts with Gideon. He does NOT shame him for asking for confirmation. God knows Gideon’s story, his pain, and his fear, and so God is patient with Gideon, lovingly confirming His plans for Gideon’s life. God deals with us in the same way – He knows our wounds, and He is patient with us. 
  11. While Gideon’s life is full of amazing victories, it is also a testimony to the power of unhealed father wounds. The story of Gideon ends with Gideon erecting a false god on his own property, creating a stumbling block for the Israelites … just like his father had done (Judges 8:24-27). This is not about shaming Gideon or his father, but it is about knowing that you can be a wounded believer, someone whose life simultaneously reflects mistakes and victories. 
...you can be a wounded believer, someone whose life simultaneously reflects mistakes and victories.

Father Wound Indicators:

Some present-day emotions and behaviors are evidence of past, unhealed wounds. Consider the following statements and ask God to reveal what He wants you to know. 

  1. When you think of God, do you see Him as a Good Father? Does it feel unsafe to be vulnerable with Him? Do you find yourself hiding from God, worrying about all your sin and how you just don’t measure up to Him, His standards, and His love? 
  2. Or maybe a father wound shows up differently in your life, maybe it’s in a relationship you can’t let go of, or a pattern of behavior that has burned you before, but you just keep engaging in?
  3. How did your own father deal with his pain? Anger, addiction, passivity, etc.? Do you see that same tendency in your own life today?


It is honoring to God to reflect on our past, not so we can blame others, not so we can live in the victim role, but so that we can give God the opportunity to heal us so that we don’t repeat the cycles done to us. How do we heal a father wound?

  1. Pray about it. Pray that God gives you the eyes to see your pain in action. Pray that God gives you His insight and shows you the areas of your life that need His healing touch. 
  2. Acknowledge it. You cannot fix a leak that you ignore, and eventually, you will begin to trip over the things you sweep under the rug. Acknowledge the wound/wounds from your past. You are NOT responsible for the sins committed against you. You are, however, responsible for your healing. Once you become aware of the wounds from your past and their impact on your life, you become responsible for how you go about healing.  
  3. Grieve it. It is okay to grieve something that happened to you; it’s also okay to grieve something you didn’t have, that doesn’t make you ungrateful, it makes you human. Grief is God’s divine process through which we heal and move forward. Remember, Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, and He still grieved (John 11:35). 
  4. Forgive it. Forgiveness is NOT about agreeing with what was done to you. Forgiveness is not about forgetting your pain. Forgiveness is for you. An unhealed wound can bleed on every area of your present-day life, and in that way, you continue to suffer. Forgiveness is a process – sometimes it’s lifelong. You cannot skip steps 1-3 and jump right to forgiveness, that is superficial healing, and the wound will show up again. Move through steps 1-3 at your own pace, and then when you get to forgiveness, remember to give yourself grace because you have a human mind and a human body and forgiveness is a process that takes time.  
  5. Father wounds happen within the context of a relationship, so healing doesn’t happen in isolation. The wound was sustained in relationship so it won’t heal in isolation. If your father is still alive, and it is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually safe to do so, consider talking with him about your pain. If your father is no longer living, or if speaking with him is unsafe in some way, consider the people God has placed in your life. Your friends, your small group, mentors, church family, etc. – is there anyone in your life you can trust to honestly walk with you through this learning process? Share your pain with them, ask them for prayer, and (dare I say it) ask them to help hold you accountable for not repeating the sins of the father.  

Practical Steps to Victory:

  1. Whose voice is in your mind? Is it yours? Or maybe it’s the critical, judgmental, angry voice of a parent, coach, or mentor? Take some slips of paper and write down these negative, automatic thoughts about yourself. 
  2. Shred them, burn them, bury them. Do anything you need to do (safely, please) in order to symbolize their demise. 
  3. Remember that your earthly relationships may have let you down, BUT GOD can and will heal you. Another name for God found in the Bible is Jehovah-Rapha (Exodus 15:26)– You are the God Who heals us. Your earthly father may have really hurt you, but our God is the God Who:
  4. Splits the sea (Exodus 14:21, Joshua 3:14-17, 2 Kings 2:8)
  5. Makes the sun stand still (Joshua 10:1-15)
  6. Turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28)
  7. Turns what was intended to harm me into good (Genesis 50:20)
  8. Commands His angels concerning me (Psalm 91:11)
  9. Shuts the mouth of lions (Daniel 6:22)
  10. Walks in the fire with me (Daniel 3:17-27)
  11. Turns the curse into a blessing (Deut. 23:5)
  12. Repays the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25) 
  13. In closing, finish this statement: My God is the God Who __________. Whatever past pain you want healing and freedom from, pray about it and write it in that blank and keep it with you this week. 

-Lisa Lewis, LCPC