Summary: Excerpt from the book, Living Forgiven
*If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, been divorced, or rejected by a friend, parent, or anyone with whom an emotional bond has been severed, you have suffered a loss that can create intense pain from the feelings of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment.
*When you are fired from a job or passed over for that promotion you deserved, you get the message that you really aren’t good enough or have no worth. That can leave you reeling in low self-esteem and cause tremendous fear and insecurity.
Many adoptees that I have encountered over the years have experienced the feeling of abandonment even though their adoptive families have given them love and comfort to the utmost degree. To some, the fact they were given up for adoption is proof that there is something wrong with them and the feeling of abandonment lingers, poisoning their relationship with their adoptive family and keeping them from experiencing family love to its fullest.
When my adoptive mother died, I struggled with those same feelings. I didn’t realize at the time that I had this anxiety. I knew she didn’t intentionally leave me to hurt me, but I still felt angry and abandoned. This fear of loss was carried into the relationship with my wife. When my wife’s health worsened and caused her to spend weeks in the hospital, I was distraught and devastated by the unfolding events around me.
I remember one afternoon sitting at the kitchen table, feeling numb from all that was happening, and desperately seeking God’s face. In the midst of my deep sorrow, I unexpectedly felt the desire to praise and worship God. It enveloped me, wrapping me in the warmth of joy. I just wanted to praise Him, amazed that this great joy was flooding my spirit!
Then, a verse came to memory, *"I will give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." (Isaiah 61:3 KJV)
His presence gave me the strength to face all that I was going through.
Although I felt the Lord’s presence in every aspect of my life, I continued to struggle with, and could not overcome, the deeply-rooted fear of losing my wife. The thought of another person dying to whom I had given all of my heart, and entrusted all of my soul, was just too great. The first person I willingly opened my heart to was my adoptive mother, and she died. Her death left me feeling empty inside, so I tried to overcome those feelings by burying her memory deep within.
For years I was terrified to allow anyone intimate access to my heart. I was afraid the unbearable pain of my mother’s death would somehow be awakened and reappear. When I fell in love with my wife, I knew that I had to "open up" again if we were to have a healthy marriage. During the time my wife was lying in the intensive care unit, in what I thought was to be her death bed, I was overwhelmed with grief. The past was haunting me. I couldn’t handle the pain.
When I finally "emotionally" buried my adoptive mother, it helped soothe my sorrow and fear, so I began to react the same way towards my wife. I subconsciously "buried" her. I unconsciously had severed our emotional relationship so that I could deal with the stress and fear her sickness was causing. For months afterwards I walked around feeling empty and numb inside, angry that she was sick. I was even angrier with myself for the way I was reacting.
Our marriage suffered, and my relationship with the Lord suffered. It wasn’t until many months later that I realized the great mistake I had made just for "emotional protection." Once I confronted my fears, I knew that for the sake and health of our marriage relationship, I had to entrust her once again with my heart and soul. I had to overcome my anger and fear and allow forgiveness to flood my spirit. Yet, in spite of my growing understanding, these same problems continued to reappear at times in our marriage.
I had always struggled deeply with intimacy. I longed to be able to hold and love my wife effortlessly. But something deep within was blocking me, keeping me from the very one I so desperately needed. Years and years went by. Each time we experienced a crisis, I would withdraw from her, seeking my own private place to find a way out of the problems we faced.
I had long ago unknowingly begun building a wall that I would use to protect her from my pain and fear. And with each new dilemma in which I found myself, I unconsciously built the wall a little taller, a little wider, and a little thicker until it became an impossible task for her to even attempt to overcome it.