The Thing I Fear
"What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me."1
A Daily Encounter reader writes, "My new husband is in the military and recently left for his first deployment. I have been feeling very sad and mournful about his leaving. I felt like the Lord showed me that I feel abandoned. I know this is an irrational feeling, because I know he has been working so hard to get to this place for two years. He and I both feel like this is a calling on his life. I knew when I married him that he would be leaving for months at a time. But now that it is here, I can't help but feel like his love for me is smaller than his love for his job. What steps should I take to deal with my abandonment issue?"
Dear Jane (not her real name), chances are your abandonment issue has little, if anything, to do with your husband being away. His absence has merely triggered unresolved issues from your past—in all probability (as you also implied) going back to your early relationship with your emotionally-uninvolved father and then reinforced by your former marriage. If this is true, you need effective counseling to help you resolve your "father wound." If you don't resolve this issue, you will be troubled by it in some way for the rest of your life. Furthermore, it is very important that you don't project this feeling onto your husband, or the thing you fear you may unconsciously make to happen.
While your feelings of abandonment may seem to be irrational, they are actually logical in that they are authentic feelings based on your past experiences. This is why it is so important not to project these emotions onto your present situation and blame your husband for the way you feel. For those of us who have an abandonment issue, we need in-depth therapy to help us resolve our problem. It seems to me that if we have a "father wound," we need to resolve this with a trusted male therapist and, if a "mother wound," with a female therapist.
Unfortunately, there are no simple quick-fix answers. True, God can heal quickly, but more often than not he heals these wounds through healing relationships. That is, as we were damaged in damaging relationships, we are healed in healing relationships. The healing takes place over time as we are connected to a safe, loving, non-threatening counselor or very understanding friend who gets to know all about us and loves and accepts us just as we are—unconditionally and without strings attached. Little by little this experience reprograms our feelings to produce in us what counselors call "object constancy." In other words we become secure in our love with our loved ones so that when we are separated from them, we no longer feel abandoned nor suffer from separation anxiety.
To start, tell God exactly how you feel and ask him to lead you to a safe counselor and to the help you need to overcome your abandonment issue. And don't ever give up praying for and getting the help you need until your abandonment issue/father wound is healed. Until you are freed from this past issue, you will not be free to fully live and fully love.*
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your love for me is totally unconditional and everlasting. Help me to feel secure in your love and get the help I need to feel secure in my human relationships knowing that I have 'object constancy.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Job 3:25 (NIV).
*Note: For further help read "Healing a Man's Father Wound" at: http://tinyurl.com/9dse4. The same principles apply to the healing of a woman's father wound.