Someone Left Me: The Painful Path Through Abandonment
Someone left me, but I needed them to stay. At the core of abandonment is this simple idea. No one comes into this world alone. Togetherness is the foundation of life and hardwired into the very fiber of our being is an expectation that our community will embrace us.
A baby does not have a plan for abandonment. In fact, you have likely heard the screeching entitled cries of a baby who simply wants to be held. She fervently believes in mom and dad's responsibility to be physically and emotionally close to her. Naturally, when mom or dad hears her cries, they respond immediately because they are also physically and emotionally energized by their connection to their little one.
So, what does a baby do when she cries and there is no physical and emotional response from her parents? What about the teenager who looks for his parents and doesn't find them? What happens to the adult who feels abandoned and isolated from her loved ones?
I have been there. I have known that painful and disorienting place of looking for love where it should be and only finding loneliness. There is a deep trauma and disappointment in that place. I remember how I interrogated my past actions and words to convince myself I was to blame for being abandoned. I remember feeling the shame around people who celebrated and glorified their parents and how close they were. I remember twisting the narrative so that my abandonment did not sound so painful. I remember thinking, “If I just try harder to show her how much I love and need her in my life, my mom will accept me back into hers.” I remember how those attempts did not work.
Left with so much mental and emotional anguish, I wondered why God had allowed all of this. My relationship with my mother was largely nonexistent from the time I was eighteen until my early thirties. It was in my early twenties after my mom and I had not talked for a couple of years. I was in college studying for ministry, wondering how God could call me into his service to lead individuals and families spiritually when I couldn’t even see a path to a healthy relationship with my own mother. What if there is something glaringly cancerous and unlovable about me? I do not want to destroy other people and families as a minister. How can I help others when I am so deeply wounded myself? Why wouldn’t God fix this?
Looking back, I now have some answers to those questions. In my journey through pain and confusion, God taught me how beauty blossoms from the ashes of our trials. God has a special plan for those who have experienced neglect and rejection.
God has never promised to be a protector from pain or a shield from sorrow. For as long as people have the choice to walk in your life, they equally can choose to walk out, and you may feel the devastating effects of their absence. And because God has no plans to remove humans’ ability to choose, what does he do instead?
What God Does to Heal Those Who Have Been Abandoned
He moves in close.
He charts you on a path of healing.
He turns your pain into purpose.
God Moves Closer to Those Who Experience Abandonment
Whether you are relieved to have parents, siblings, or other loved ones exit your life or beg for them to stay, most people have a point where that empty space begins to turn into a nagging thorn. Healthy or unhealthy, we miss them. Recognizing the emptiness in our hearts, God moves close to us. Something similar happens in our communities every day. When someone becomes ill, people tend to move in closer to that person.
I remember when my brother-in-law was about twelve years old when he and his friends climbed a tree. On his way down he slipped on a branch and fell to the ground, breaking his arm at the elbow. His friends came running back to help him and notified his mother. That evening the hospital waiting room was packed with family members and friends who just wanted to be close to him as he received treatment.
Humans tend to draw close to those who are hurting. God is the originator of this behavior. He moves in close to those who feel empty, lonely, isolated, forgotten, or abandoned. He will not leave you alone. He knows how comforting his presence can be, even when you struggle to understand why this is happening to you. He loves to be near you and to listen to your sadness, however it comes out. He is not the God who watches you struggle from a distance. That would cause Him too much hurt as a Father. Look for His closeness, because in his nearness, He will whisper words that remind you who you are. You are not unlovable. Your wounds are not unto death. There is something amazing on the other side of your pain.
The Path of Healing from Abandonment
The gospel is all about healing. I am not sure if you have truly dug into this definition, but it will be crucial to how you move through abandonment. Do you remember Jesus’ words in Luke 4:18 as He announces why He has come?
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He came to heal the wounded. To restore that which was lost. To offer hope for the hopeless. The gospel is about healing. Jesus could endure the cross because he believed there was always the possibility for healing, even after death.
Someone left you and it wounded you. Healing is what God wants for you more than anything. The hard part is getting you and me to believe healing is possible and is worthy of the effort it will take to acquire. The path of healing means you will have to resist the temptation to suppress or avoid your pain. You will have to wrestle with it, talk about it (especially with a counselor), and study how the pain changed you for the better and for the worse. You will have to consider who you were before the emptiness, who you are now in the sadness, and who you hope to be in the victory.
The path of healing will refine you where the abandonment tried to confine you. Refuse to let someone walking out of your life imprison you in bitterness, hate, and shame. He has come “to set at liberty those who are oppressed,” even by rejection.
Turning the Pain of Abandonment into Purpose
The healing path leads to a new or renewed purpose. You were designed to give something from yourself to the world around you. It just so happens that God is thrifty. He finds a use for every ounce of pain we experience. Your pain will inform your purpose. I’m not talking about your job, although it may guide your career path. I mean, how you decide to live in this world.
Your past rejection will impact how you accept others and promote inclusion. You will remember what it was like to feel isolated and alone. You will seek out those who have found themselves in similar spaces and offer to be a companion on their path to healing. You will break cycles of unhealthy toxic relationships in your family by building boundaries that promote love and safety. You will see the unseen and feel the unloved. You will touch the untouchable. Your anointing will align with Jesus’ anointing.
You will become a healer. When people see you and hear your story, they will witness an overcomer who plants seeds of hope for others to pursue their healing too. They will witness a God who specializes in turning pain into power and purpose. This is the beauty that blossoms from your ashes. Your purpose is in your healing.
Someone left you. God has never left you. He will heal you.
You may be asking – “How do I start on this path to healing?”
Ways to Start on the Path Towards Healing from Abandonment
Take a moment to reconnect with God. He is with you right now and he cares about how you feel. Let him into your pain so you