Today's post is brought to you by Time Wade; a friend, fellow writer and former truck-driver turned Baptist Minister. Thank you for sharing your powerful, redemptive story with us Tim! I appreciate your thoughts and guidance for dealing with abandonment.
Our world always needs hope. Tim can be reached HERE.
In Search of the Abandonment Connection
by Tim Wade
My brother and I grew up a latchkey children. He was six and I was eight when we began walking from the elementary school to our house one block away. We would arrive home each day just in time to catch the afternoon television line up. I remember watching Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons, and Happy Days and wondering why my parents never loved my brother and me the way the parents on TV loved their kids.
My brother and I were too young to know we were abandoned children. I did not know it was uncommon for a nine year old child to know how to cook a three-dish meal for a family of four, or wash, dry, and fold laundry, or clean a house as well as any adult. I did not know at age ten that I had lost my childhood, or that the depression I felt in my teens, and the inability to relate to my peers in my twenties, was my due to the losses I had suffered as a child.
It would not be until I was in my late thirties approaching forty when I would finally make the connection between the emotional, physical, and spiritual abandonment of my youth, and the vulgar, abusive, sexually idolatrous, gluttonous behavior of my adult life. Blinded by years of pain, it was impossible for me to see how I was bleeding all over my world.
Characteristic among adults who were abandoned as children is the ability to recognize dysfunction both in childhood and adulthood. Equally characteristic is the inability to make the connection between the two. What follows are five observations about abandonment that I believe are key to understanding the connection between the pain a child feels from being abandoned, and the effect it has when that child becomes an adult.
- Abandonment comes in many forms. It is not uncommon for adults who were physically abandoned to also be abandoned spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. Because of its natural complexity, many adults fail to make the connection between physical abandonment and problems in different areas of their lives. The best way to connect these dots and make sense of the problems is to work with a trained Christian counselor.
- Abandoned children often grow up without boundaries. For the wounded adult, the absence of childhood boundaries can easily become a license to sin. Childhood pain, however, is not an excuse to live as a victim without standards. Again, I suggest working with a Christian counselor who can help you establish boundaries and understand how to make the Bible your standard for living.
- Abandonment leaves behind a void. It is human nature to fill the void left by abandonment with aberrant behaviors such a sexual idolatry, abuse (verbal, physical, spiritual), and exclusion of others. It is God’s grace that allows us to see that behavior as a reaction to pain and forsake it, seeking instead an identity in God’s intended purpose for our lives according to the Bible.
- The phrase “if only” kills. “If only my parents had paid attention.” “If only someone had told me what I was feeling wasn’t normal.” “If only God hadn’t let these things happen.” Regardless of the past, all that God gives us is the present. To live our lives to the fullest you and I have to put the past behind us, beginning with forgiving those who have hurt us. Only then will we be able to pick up the pieces of our lives and truly live.
- Abandonment is not a tool for witnessing to others about Jesus. Abandonment is what it is – loss. Our witness in Jesus Christ comes not from boasting in our loss – which does nothing more than draw attention to ourselves – but rather from boasting in the Life Jesus gives in spite of that loss, and the subsequent victory we have by being forgiven of our sin.
I doubt this list offers any real comfort to the one who has lived their entire life with the pain of childhood abandonment, but as I have already pointed out, that’s not its purpose. The purpose of this list is to help the adult who was abandoned as child to begin to understand the cause and effect relationship between his past and his present. It is designed to help us see ourselves for what we have become in light of where we have been. Moreover, it testifies to the power of God who gives us hope, having promised to never leave us, or forsake us.