Father Wounds: Absent Fathers

Children of absent fathers often respond quite warmly to the Father’s love—they have usually never seen or felt anything like it before, so initially it is quite exciting. Remember, however, that children with absent fathers are all about the 5 senses, impulsive actions, and finding the next high. Thus the encounter with God typically never lasts very long. A while back I was reading a biography of John Lennon, yet another child of an absent father. Apparently even John accepted Christ while watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. His “salvation” lasted all of several weeks. The excitement fades, conflict occurs, doubts kick in, and suddenly the child of an absent father needs a new high, a new adventure. Of all the types of brothers I counsel, those with absent fathers are probably the most difficult to counsel for the simple reason that they show up for counseling raring to go, last for about a month of sessions, and then drop out, never to be heard from again. Since this is their pattern with women, children, jobs, their latest adventure, and so on, I shouldn’t be surprised. Nonetheless, I find myself shaking my head at their constant inconstancy. You can trace it all right back to the absence of a father who failed in teaching the vast importance of boring, routine, and sometimes even painful tasks in life. Imagine trying to be a Christian without the ability to stay the course, sacrifice and suffer, stand your ground while under attack, and work out your salvation with fear and persistence in the face of every obstacle. Some of you don’t have to imagine…

Indeed, if you are the child of an absent father and you have made it this far in the book, I am quite shocked. Please, by all means, keep going! You are obviously in the process of overcoming your father wounds—more power to you! Just remember that you need to find a spiritual mentor or father figure to fill in the gaps of what you missed. Unfortunately it is not easy to find mature believers with both the passion and skill necessary to father others. The good news is, you can go a long way towards mentoring and fathering yourself through the teachings and writings of mature Christians. Much of my mentoring has come in such fashion: C. S. Lewis, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, Neil Anderson, Paul Yonggi Cho, Rick Joyner, and John G. Lake are all men I have turned to time and time again for wisdom and guidance. Much of what they teach is over my spiritual head, but I have absorbed enough truth to seriously change my life for the better. When I write Battle Stations! (book #3 in the Pureheart curriculum), I will pass on to you all the essential truths I wish a spiritual father had taught me long ago!

Selection taken from Special Ops! Volume 1

Father Wounds vs the Father's Heart: Abusive Fathers

Right off the bat, abusive dads create children who find it very difficult to intellectually believe in and experientially receive the Heavenly Father’s love. It’s actually quite a logical reaction: If God the Father is all-powerful and in control of everything (which He is), and if you were starved, beaten, sexually abused, mercilessly mocked, manipulated, or constantly controlled by your earthly father, then God the Father has to be ultimately responsible for your suffering, right? If this describes your situation, you will either want nothing to do with God, believe in Him in classic passive-aggressive fashion, or obey Him out of sheer fear and self-preservation (because you already know what happens when you don’t obey Dad). Let me give you the bottom line: Those of you with abusive fathers have a lot of work ahead of you before you can really experience the Father’s Heart. Not only must you do all the work in these chapters to heal your father wounds, but you also must do the work of processing your many hurts and traumas from the abuse. Make sure you read my later chapters on Childhood Victims to Adult Overcomers, Suffering and Restoration, and Grief and Healing, as well as the two chapters on the Holy Spirit and Christians.

Many of you in this category will need professional help from a Christian counselor or a pastor with training in counseling, in addition to powerful supernatural encounters with the Spirit Himself. And yeah, I know it’s a lot of work, but you can do this. I have every confidence in you! (This is how healthy dads talk.) You have no other option if you ever wish to progress beyond a dysfunctional, hurt, addicted, abused, and angry spiritual baby. Instead you want to grow up into a man or woman who knows the oh-so-deep and delightful heart of God the Father. Speaking from oh-so-much personal experience…

As for belief, blessing, and reward, these foundational aspects of fatherhood are pretty much twisted beyond all recognition for those with abusive dads. Angry and abusive fathers don’t believe in anyone, much less themselves, so they possess no ability to believe in their children. Addicted dads only care about their next fix or buzz. Controlling types only use belief and reward when it suits them, as a means to their ends. The acceptance of perfectionistic fathers is ever a mirage that is just out of reach; no matter how hard you work, their belief in you must be earned over and over again. Father wounds like these create major problems. Those of us with abusive fathers not only have difficulty believing in God, we don’t even believe in ourselves. We don’t believe that God believes in us. If your earthly father told you over and over again you won’t amount to a hill of beans, it must be true. God believes in you, but raised with such an earthly father can you ever truly believe in God?

Even more so, abusive dads have no ability to bless, to release their children to their destinies—they are either too screwed up to care, or they believe that everything must be earned by hard work. Blessing, however, must first be released by the one with authority to do so—long before there is any proof of the child’s potential. Indeed, the blessing is required first to make the destiny attainable. Abusive fathers expect from their children that which they, as fathers, have never given. Our Heavenly Father, in stark contrast, blesses His Son out loud long before there is any sign of His Son’s obedience, much less fulfilled destiny.

Children of abusive or perfectionistic parents normally need a powerful, supernatural encounter with God in order to even come to salvation, something like Paul getting knocked to the ground and blinded by his encounter with Jesus. When they submit to both the Father’s Hand and Heart, however, they can turn into world-class Christians. I have no idea what wounds drove Paul to be such a murderous persecutor, but they were obviously deep. Note that Paul’s sanctification process required much suffering (the Father’s Hand), wise mentors like Ananias and Barnabas, years in the desert, and supernatural experiences like trances, tongues, and heavenly visions, in addition to the normal things like constant prayer and study of God’s Word. It was all to great effect, however, because Paul became a spiritual father, second to none.

How long will the Pureheart Process take?

If you are in counseling for purity issues, expect a minimum of 6 months to a year. We have a lot to teach you and model for you in the Pureheart Process and the ability to stay sober over a long period of time is one of the key tests of sobriety. Any addict can achieve sobriety for several months if they try real hard but as you already know, willpower alone is not sufficient. The typical Pureheart Process is weekly counseling for 6 months to 1 year with most counselees averaging a year in counseling. A few people have done it in less than a year and a number of people have spent several years in counseling: a lot of it depends on how deep you are in your addictive process and how dysfunctional your background. For the wives of sexually addicted husbands we recommend a six-month process of healing and recovery.

This is what Pureheart has to offer. Contact us here only if you are serious and ready to pay the price for freedom. The truth will indeed set you free but you must first learn the truth, then believe it, and finally, live by it. We are here to help guide you through this life-transforming process.


Note from Tim: Normally I just post positive testimonies but this sister's email was so powerful I just had to post it. I am sure some of the spouses reading this will be able to relate to the pain, fear, shame, and so on, that always result from sexual sin. The good news is this couple is now in counseling with us and doing well. I hope to have the happy ending to this story posted towards the end of 2017.

Hi Tim,

I am writing to you because I believe and trust that you can help me and my husband.

On July 6,2016 my husband of 8.5 yrs never came home. This was the first time since we had been married that this had happened and I was worried with grief like I had never been before. His last call to me was at exactly 6:31 pm, which he stated he was on his way home. I waited and waited as I always do for him to walk thru the door, but he never did. The kids began to ask "Where's Dad? Is he on his way home?" All four of them would ask this question over and over again. All I could say was, he'll be home soon, he probably had to work late tonight. As time progressed in the evening, I became so consumed with worry that I called my Mother to come and help me with my children. She came right over and started thinking of what we should do next.  9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12 am... and still no husband. I was beginning to think something terrible had happened to my beloved husband. I was scared!  The kids (3 girls and 1 boy) could not sleep. We all gathered in my bedroom hoping he would walk through the door at any moment, but he never did.

My husband is a …………. at a big school district, here in …………………… and in the summer he gets off work at 5:30. He is always home at least by 6:30 unless he stops by the store of groceries. So it was unusual for him not to come home, plus he had already called to say he was on his way home. I called the police at 3:20 am to report a missing person, my husband. When the police arrived to ask me questions about my husband's whereabouts I could only share what information I knew. The police officer was very kind and very concerned not to wake my children sleeping upstairs. My mom by this time had already left to go home, so I was all alone to deal with what was going on. After I had given the police officer my husband's plate number he told me he would see what he could find out. 10 minutes went by super fast when we asked me to come to his patrol car to talk. He said well, I have some good news and some not so good news. I was shaking with excitement that he had any news while wondering what the bad news could be.

You see, my husband is Christian and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. He grew up in the Catholic church and is very familiar with the word of God. He does not drink or smoke. He has never even had a traffic ticket. My husband is a gentle spirit one who speaks softly. Most would describe him as a man who loves his family and is an "above board" person. He is not a trouble maker and does not have many friends outside of work. He enjoys playing pool and getting out with the family when there is time.

We met online in 2007 and fell deeply in love. We were inseparable. I had been married before and I told myself, I would never marry again. But it happened. Our beginnings was beautiful and I will always cherish the memories. As time progressed, my marriage was great, not perfect! We had our share of ups and downs, but there were more ups than downs. I worked while my husband finished his degree and I never complained. It was important for him to finish with school and I was in complete support. Well fast forward to 2016.  June…… at 3:48 am the police had informed me that my beloved husband had been arrested. I could not believe what I was hearing. I instantly feel to my knees and the kind police officer pulled me up. I asked what the charges were, but he did not tell me. He said, it was not in the system. He then gave me phone numbers to the police station and suggested that I call and get the details in order to bail him out.

When I called the police station I was immediately informed that my husband had been arrested and charged with prostitution. I was in complete shock and disbelief. I could not believe what I was hearing... I kept saying to myself... My husband...my husband...I just could not believe that my husband would engage in such activity. It was not possible in my eyes. I thought he loved me, I thought I was someone special to him, I thought he was happy, how could he do this to us???? How could this be happening to me, to us. The pain was instant and cut me deeply. A pain that is almost indescribable. I was just shocked, in sheer shock.  While dealing with my emotions which were all over the place, emotions and feelings that I did not know existed, I had to rush to the police station for 6 am to bail him out. In some sick way, I did not want him to spend another day in jail. I needed to see him and hear his side of the story. I need to look into his eyes and here what happened.

His release was not immediate. I paid the $500 bail and he was released at 3 pm Thursday... By this time the pain, anger and resentment was settling in as I began to realize what this all of this meant for me and my future, my family. My sister drove me to the station to pick up my husband. When I saw him, I was immediately disgusted and ashamed to even say this person was my husband. I was embarrassed. I had always been so proud of my husband and happy to claim him as my husband. It felt great to be his wife. This time was different. This time I did not know who he was. I wondered what happened to the man I married. I started reflecting on the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, date nights, the countless time we made love wondering did he really care about any of these things. 

Once we retrieved his car from the pound, we drove home. I needed to talk to him. I needed to hear what had happened. He told me he was busted for prostitution, but it was not until he told me that he had encountered others in the past. A total of 10 encounters. Of the 10, 3 were massage places.  I was devastated. I could not believe he had committed adultery and with prostitutes or anyone. His attitude about the matter was shocking and disturbing. At that time I felt he showed no remorse for his behavior although he apologized. We eventually went to a park and talked for a long time. He shared the stories with me and all I could do was cry and ask questions. I was torn inside...just broken.

That evening all I wanted to do was be in his arms. I wanted him to comfort me and tell me everything was going to be alright. And that's exactly what he did. We even made love and looking back, I am not sure that was a good idea.  I guess, I just wanted things to go back to normal, but things would never be the same again. I had zero trust in my husband and still have no trust. The bond we once shared was now broken. He had broken his marriage vows in the worst way imaginable.

Where are we today? Well, he is fighting charges of prostitution and I have agreed to support him through this time. I have also decided not to file for divorce under the terms that we get counseling. We need serious help! As the days passed, we began to talk and I began to research the sites to find an answer about why this was happening to us. I looked up websites and youtube videos. I watched videos that discussed porn and infidelity, how to build trust after cheating... and that is when I came across your site through a recommendation after reading someone's story about how they overcame porn addition.

I am desperately reaching out to you because I need your help, we need your help. We have never been in a situation like this before and for me it is scary. I remain confused and frustrated. I still have zero trust in my husband and need help in learning how to rebuild that trust and cope. I have anxiety everything he uses his cell phone or tablet for anything. I knew deep down in my heart that my husband had an issue with porn considering he has been looking at this since the age of 12. But he always said it was not an issue and he could stop. After hearing the stories of other people struggling with this problem, I knew that in order for us to move forward and I remain in this marriage, he was going to have to get help. He took the assessment and scored 57. I do not know how to encourage him to reach out to you Tim. He said he wants to change in the deepest way. We have started going to mass and spending more and more time together. But I feel in order to be real change, we need someone like you with your experience and wisdom to intervene.

My husband is very private which is why skype and phone would work best for both of us. My sincere prayer is that after you meet my husband, that you would please personally help him come to grips with this problem. Be his accountability partner as we try and rebuild our marriage. Please advise what I should do next.  Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you soon."


What exactly does the Pureheart Process look like?

We have 3 Phases to be accomplished in our counseling.

1) Purity: Here we teach you how to kill your external sexual addiction behaviors like masturbation, porn, and sexual acting out while adding positive disciplines like daily devotions, exercise, family time, accountability, etc. In the long run doing the positive is far more important than obsessing about breaking free of addictive behaviors (almost every addict makes this initial mistake).

2) Maturity: Here we help you discover the internal brokenness that drives your external addictive behaviors. This is another classic addict mistake—attempting to quit an addiction without ever taking the time to figure out the driving force powering the addiction. Something is broken inside of you and until you figure that out you will always be an addictive accident waiting to happen. As we work on internal discovery we also mentor you spiritually because if your heart is full of God it becomes easy to resist temptation, plus we teach you practically how to win the war of spiritual warfare (something the vast majority of Christian counselors completely ignore).

3) Destiny: This is the fun part. Now that you are starting to walk in consistent purity and heal your internal hurts, your relationship with God really starts to take off. Now you can finally discover why God put you on this planet—you have a God-given destiny and calling and nothing will ever be more fulfilling for you than discovering your destiny and then walking in it.

What do you expect from me when I start counseling with Pureheart?

We expect honesty from you—you can’t break free if you continue lying and covering up your sin. We expect a serious commitment to see the process through from beginning to end. Addicts are usually great at starting things but we want people who will finish the race and not drop out just because you think you are cured after 3 months of successful sobriety. We expect you to do your homework each week, show up for your weekly sessions on time, and pay your bill weekly. We are successful in part because we offer no magic pill or instant 60 day cure but just plain old-fashioned hard work that really works. Recovery, sobriety, and spiritual maturity are not achieved by sprinting to the finish line but instead are earned by a methodical marathon of steady progress that ultimately leads to complete transformation.

So What's the Bad News and Good News About Sexual Addiction?

The bad news is you need to take sexual sin very seriously. Read Scripture yourself. God does not tolerate sexual sin; there is no compromise in His Word. Purity is absolutely essential to intimacy with God. And yet we live in a world and in a time when sexual sin is everywhere and instantly accessible.  Furthermore you will lose everything if you continue in your addictive behaviors; sexual sin is progressive, you keep getting worse and worse, it is the nature of all addictions. I could tell you horror stories of people who have lost their marriages, their kids, their jobs, their money, and worst of all their relationship with God for the sake of sexual sin. And of all addictions, sexual addiction maybe the hardest to break (you can pull up sexual thoughts in your brain anytime you want). The vast majority of people—I am talking to you—will not break free on their own.



The good news? We have been there and done that. Pureheart counselors were abused and abandoned and addicted just like you. We have been addicted to masturbation, we paid for pornography, and we cheated on our wives or endured adulterous affairs. We understand the magnetic pull of perversion and yet by God’s grace we now walk in consistent purity and our relationships with God and our families have never been better. We will empathize with you and feel your pain and yet we will also walk our talk and model for you the process of breaking addictive behaviors, healing your hurts, and growing up as a man or woman of God. The truth really does set people free—we are living proof of this fact.