I don’t remember where I was the first time I heard the two-word phrase “father wound”.
Maybe I was perusing the internet.
Maybe I was scanning a list of book titles.
Maybe I was in church.
What I do remember is the impact those words had on me. I remember them resonating someplace deep within the parts of me I never spoke about. I remember thinking, I have father wounds.
My parents divorced when I was a baby. They met and married long enough to have me, yet I was too little to comprehend the lasting impact growing up without my father would have on my life.
What I know now but didn’t know then is that acknowledging my father wound was just the beginning of a long healing journey. I had no idea that I would begin to discover all of the ways that wound impacted every area of my life. Soon, I realized the two-word phrase “father wound” is plural instead of singular.
Sometimes, a woman incurs more than one wound from her father. She may incur many. Sometimes, fathers knowingly and unknowingly inflict pain on the hearts of their daughters. In turn, father-wounded daughters may grow into father-wounded women.
This was the case for me. I stumbled around for many years looking for answers in the pages of scriptures, in the chapters of books, in the chairs of counselors, and in the pews of preachers. I was searching desperately, longing for healing that would bring solace. That search led me to discover what father wounds are and how they can impact women.
The two-word phrase I stumbled upon refers to a physical, emotional, or mental injury that was intentionally or unintentionally caused by a father. This injury may result from divorce, abandonment, abuse, incarceration, addictions, pre-mature death, or a physically present but emotionally absent father. Although father wounds can occur at different times in a woman’s life, if she is unable to heal, these wounds can continue to impact her for a lifetime.
When it comes to determining the type of father wounds we have, we must recognize every human being is triune and made up of the spirit, body, and soul.
As triune beings, we can incur wounds in our spirit, body, and soul, but there is good news. The severity of the wound is not beyond the reach of God’s all-sufficient power, mercy, and grace. Psalm 147:3 reminds us that, “He heals the brokenhearted and he binds up their wounds.”
Notice that the word wounds in this scripture is plural. God’s ability to heal our wounds is not contingent on the number of wounds we have. Scripture says He heals them all. There is no wound that we can identify that God cannot bind up. There is no broken heart that He cannot heal. This is the comforting truth we must hold in our hearts as we begin to unpack the wounds of our youth that have become unwanted stowaways in adulthood. We must remember that no matter how big or insurmountable the wound feels to us, it is no match for God. They are all subject to His authority.
Remember the woman with an issue of blood? Her story is found in three of the four Gospels. This woman endured an internal hemorrhage for twelve years prior to being healed by Jesus. Her body was wounded:
Matthew 9:20 says, “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak I will be healed.'”
Jesus was surrounded by people pressing up against him on every side, and then He was touched by this unnamed woman. We don’t know what condition this woman had, but we can speculate what her experience must have been like because she was considered unclean. She was likely ostracized, mistreated, and talked about behind her back. She may have struggled with insecurity and low-self esteem all because of her hemorrhage, and yet, she boldly came to Jesus.
This took great courage. She was desperate for a change. She was tired of living with a life-altering wound.
Maybe you can relate? Your wound may not be a hemorrhage, but it may be a wound that impacted your body. Maybe your wound was inflicted by your father. No matter your circumstance, we can glean hope from the courage of this woman. She courageously believed Jesus could heal her wound—and He did.
This is the same for you and me. Where is your issue of blood? What wound has left you feeling insecure, unaccepted, alone? What situation has left you broke and broken? Where have you been wounded? Whatever it is, Jesus, our Messiah and King, is able to heal it.
Remember Hannah’s story in the Bible? Hannah was the second wife of a priest named Elkanah. Elkanah’s other wife was named Peninnah, and scripture says that she had children while Hannah was barren.
Scripture says that when it was time for Elkanah to sacrifice, he gave a double portion of meat to Hannah because he loved her, and the Lord had chosen to close her womb. Consequently, her rival, Peninnah, kept provoking her for the primary purpose of irritating her year after year.
Hannah was wounded in her soul. The soul consists of the mind, will, and emotions. This is the place where we process our pain and think deeply about the experiences in our lives. This is the place where we make decisions.
The Bible illustrates how Hannah’s soul was crushed by her rival Penninah. 1 Samuel 1:7 says, “Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” Hannah was grief-stricken over her barrenness beyond comfort. She refused to eat and could not be consoled by her husband.
In 1 Samuel 1:10, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. Her prayer was observed by Eli, who observed her mouth. Verse 13 says, “Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.”
To Eli, it appeared that Hanna was drunk, so he questioned what he thought was a drunken state and encouraged her to put away her wine. Her response to him indicates just how wounded her soul was. In verse 15, she says, “Not so, my lord, I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Hannah knew great sorrow. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you, too have been wounded in your soul to the point of despair. Maybe you have lost your appetite and been unable to eat. Hannah took her sorrow to the Lord, and He healed her. In verse 17, Eli blessed her and said, “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked him.”
It appears that Hannah’s soul was healed at this moment because scripture says she went on her way, ate, and was no longer downcast. Where in your life is your soul wounded? In what area have you felt weighed down by a painful experience in your life? Where does your soul feel crushed by the weight of disappointment?
Maybe your wounds were caused by the careless words of your father. Maybe these wounds are hard to forget. Whatever it is, know that Jesus heals all wounds.
Remember the Samaritan woman at the well? On His way to Galilee, Jesus had to go through Samaria. When he came to a town called Sychar, he sat down at a well because He was tired. Knowing that Jews did not associate with Samaritans, the woman questioned how he could ask her for a drink.
Instead of responding to her question, Jesus made a bee-line for her wounded Spirit. In John 4:10 he said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Confused, the woman inquired how Jesus could access living water without anything to draw with. Jesus, knowing this woman thirsted for something far greater than water, said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but wherever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Still not understanding, the woman requested this water. Jesus then proceeded to tell her about her life and how she had five husbands and was with a man that was not her husband. This led to Him telling the woman that He was the Messiah.
Jesus knew that what this woman needed was communion with God. She had spent years of her life attempting to satisfy the longing of her soul with relationships that were unable to satisfy her. What Jesus offered her that day spoke to the wounded spirit.
Maybe you have been wounded in your spirit. Maybe you experienced a father-shaped void so deep it impacted your view of God. Instead of turning to Him, maybe you’ve turned to substitutes. Maybe you have searched for something or someone to satisfy the longings of your inner man only to come up empty time and time again.
Jesus longs to give you this same living water that He offered the Samaritan woman. He not only identifies the source of our wounds, but He provides us with a lasting solution too. He offers us hope. He heals the brokenhearted and he binds up our wounds (Psalm 147:3).
If you saw yourself in the woman with the issue of blood, in Hannah, or in the Samaritan woman, know that there is no wound beyond the reach of God. He healed their wounds, and He is able to heal yours too.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Romolo Tavani
Kia Stephens is a wife and mom of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to help women exchange their father wounds for the love of God the Father. Kia is also the founder of Entrusted Women, which she created to equip Christian women communicators of color. In addition to these ministries, Kia faithfully serves in Bible Study Fellowship and her local church in Atlanta, Georgia. When Kia is not writing or serving women, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. Kia will be releasing her first book, Overcoming Father Wounds, on March 7, 2023.