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How to Start Healing from Your Childhood Wounds

How to Start Healing from Your Childhood Wounds

MARCH 30, 2024

/ Articles / How to Start Healing from Your Childhood Wounds

by Pat Morley

By my early thirties, I started to ache for a relationship with my dad. At that point, we barely saw each other beyond Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July.

After much prayer, I invited my dad to lunch on his birthday. We had a great time, and it became an annual tradition. A few years into this, we left the cash register and walked to our vehicles, which were coincidentally parked next to each other. Without any forethought, I said, “Dad, can I give you a hug?”

Before I had time to think about it, Dad charged me like a bull. He threw his arms around me and squeezed so tight I felt like a grizzly bear had grabbed hold of me.

All I could imagine was his own deeply buried pain. His father had abandoned him when my dad was two, so he never had a father of his own to mimic. He never had a father tousle his hair, never heard a father’s instruction about the ways of life. Add to that all those missed years we had not hugged.

At the end of what seemed like a brief eternity, we drew back and put our hands on each other’s shoulders. He looked at me, and I looked at him. Warm, salty tears rolled down both of our cheeks.

I said, “I love you, Dad.”

He said, “I love you too,” and then we left. That was it.

Frankly, I’m not sure anyone could adequately explain what happened in those precious moments. Our souls were cleansed. A century of sorrows boiled to the surface in one brief instant, and the intangible pain of what could have been melted away. A taste of the shimmering glory of paradise broke upon us. God’s gracious hand broke down a wall. A reconciliation took place, and I experienced unspeakable joy.

That single moment started a healing process that changed our family forever. Before that day, verbal and physical affection were unheard of. But in the years that followed, hugs and verbal expressions of love became the norm—and not just between my dad and me but for our entire family. We always greet each other and say goodbye with an embrace and “I love you.”

With no fanfare, preplanning, or expectation, my family relationships began to heal. Today I believe this transformation was a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

What’s it going to take for you to start healing from your own childhood wounds? Healing is all about pain—acknowledging it’s there, identifying where it’s coming from, and then knowing how to face it, grieve, accept it, take control, and heal.

Healing takes place in stages, but the stages often overlap or occur out of order. Some stages may take a few weeks, others a few years. Here’s an overview:

Overcoming denial and facing the truth: get out of denial and acknowledge the great suffering you’ve had to deal with.

Grief: grieve what’s missing, what could have been, and work toward acceptance without overreacting in hurt and anger.

Forgiveness: rethink your parents’ stories and forgive.

Making amends: confess any part you might have played (e.g., a difficult temperament), apologize, make amends, and ask your parents to forgive you. (Note that under no circumstances are you in any way responsible for abusive behavior against you, whether physical, emotional, or sexual—even if someone tries to manipulate you to think you share the blame.)

Renewal: rehabilitate the relationship when possible.

Setting boundaries: set boundaries if necessary (e.g., for toxic words still spoken to you).

Transformation: intentionally and actively become a man who walks in God’s power, exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, integrity, gratitude, and wisdom.

There’s no magical, universal, or rigid sequence for working through these stages. The only essential requirement for you to heal is that, at some point, you address each one of them.

Your healing process will happen at its own pace and in its own order. There’s no need to rush it, but there’s no reason to put it off any longer either.

Adapted from Broken Boy to Mended Man: A Positive Plan to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Break the Cycle by Patrick Morley. Copyright © (2024). Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.  All rights reserved.

Watch or listen to our interview with Pat Morley on SBE here!

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