Friday Counseling Issues: Abandonment, Part 7

Anyone who has been abandoned, whether physically or emotionally or both, will have a visceral reaction to a picture like this:

One of the most difficult things for a person who has been abandoned is to learn to express all the emotion and loss, to  lance the boil of resentment, fear, guilt, and shame and let all the poison drain out. True healing cannot take place until this painful process has been accomplished.

So how does one go about it?  After all, a physical boil is easy to see, to treat, and to release.  Inner pain isn’t quite so obvious.  And especially for someone who has learned not to let anything show, it’s very difficult to learn to set those emotions free. What we need to understand is that until we do process our emotions, they will continue to poison our thinking and our behavior.

There are many different approaches, in therapeutic terms, to help a person heal from abandonment. Many have helpful techniques for understanding  what has happened and why the abandoned person is left with such a huge cache of negative beliefs about himself.  You can easily research  something like “healing for abandonment issues” on your favorite search engine and come up with all sorts of helpful books and programs.

Any competent therapist will have help to offer in dealing with abandonment. Sometimes, it helps a lot just to let your story come out of your mouth with a patient, caring listener.  Often, in the telling, we can find our own path to releasing the grief and pain.

From my Christian world-view, I believe that the best way to process and heal is to learn to forgive the one(s) who have hurt us so deeply. In the process of forgiving, we can let go of our anger and pain. One difficulty people often express to me is that they feel very guilty about being angry, because anger is a sin. They really don’t want to admit how angry they are.

I love being able to disabuse these people of the false belief that anger is sin. Anger, in itself, is not sinful; however, our behavior when we are angry is a different matter.   Ephesians 4:26 tells us to be angry, but not to sin in our anger.  There are things we should be angry about.  I am angry about pedophiles who destroy the innocence of young children.  I am angry when God’s Name is used as a curse. I am angry when women are violently abused by the men who claim to love them.  I do not, however, make it my business to castrate pedophiles, to stand on street corners and scream invectives at people who profane God’s Name, or to beat up abusive men. That is not my place; it is not helpful; and it is taking vengeance into my own hands.

Anger that is used to create good, to help others, to fight evil, is not sin. The Bible mentions God’s anger over 450 times, and He certainly has never been guilty of sin!

Once a person realizes that his anger is not sin, but is a normal and expected reaction to mistreatment, then the healing. forgiving process can truly begin.  Anger needs to be rooted out, and forgiveness is the best tool for doing that.  If anger is left to fester and simmer, then the person who holds it becomes bitter and, often, deeply depressed. I can’t emphasize enough how important forgiveness is in the healing process.

I believe this will be my last post on this issue, at least for now.  If you have further questions or comments, please leave them in the comment option following this post. Thanks to the many of you who have already responded with help and encouragement.  This is a difficult issue, not easily resolved, but in Jesus Christ we have the victory over all things.

8 thoughts on “Friday Counseling Issues: Abandonment, Part 7

  1. Anne

    Was that “visceral reaction” a serious disconnect from understanding the ability to express such emotions? Did I pass or fail? 🙂

    “Sometimes, it helps a lot just to let your story come out of your mouth with a patient, caring listener. Often, in the telling, we can find our own path to releasing the grief and pain.”
    My thanks to Him will never end for that unexpected gift after so many years. I hope, in turn, to be a good listener for someone else’s healing. Your ministry here, also, helps meet that need.
    Thank you!


  2. Anne, whatever your own need is will define what that visceral reaction will be. For me, I see that toddler heartbroken and helpless to touch what he’s reaching for. The only way a baby has to express his emotion is to cry. Maybe that’s what adults need to do, too. Not all the livelong day. No one wants to listen to that. But to seriously grieve the loss and cry out our pain is often a step toward healing.

    Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Please pray with me about the next topic. I have an idea, but I need to be sure.


  3. Michael Kreger

    I think it’s worth stating, again, that Forgiveness is NOT the awkward, often insincere declaration that “it’s okay” when it is most certainly NOT okay. It is more of a statement that I will not attempt to pursue payment (personal revenge) for the wrong that was done to me. It is NOT an abandonment of a desire for God’s justice, and it is NOT a decision to remain in the situation that led to the wrong that was done to me in the first place.

    I stand ready for your correction or adjustments.


    1. You are exactly right. By definition, forgivness is giving up one’s right to demand justice; letting go of the debt, in banking terms. I haven’t decided for sure yet, but I’m thinking of doing a couple of posts on this topic for my next counseling issues topics. We have a very sad concept of what true, biblical forgiveness is and is not.

      I haven’t really thought about the aspect of the desire for God’s justice to be done. Need to ponder that. Much depends on motive, I think.


    2. Bud

      My career was ruined by a paranoid manager at Bank of America. The pain and resentment is enormous and I’m sick of it. I am a decotated veteran and a lifelong volunteer. I need to rid myself of this resentment and anger and get back to helping people. What you do for others is the only thing that matters in ljtlfe

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bud, i’m sorry you were mistreated. I don’t understand how such ill-equipped people rise to positions of authority over others.

        I would like to point you to my posts on forgiveness, which I promise you will help relieve you of resentment and anger.

        There are several posts; this is the first one. You’ll need to read up from the bottom. And God bless you. I’ll be praying for you, and I’d be glad if you could tell me if these posts were helpful to you.


  4. Abandonment is such an important issue to any animal, even other species. That’s why I find it profound that Jesus tells us specifically He will never leave or forsake us. We are the very people that He was born for. He was not born to save the world, but save God’s people. The people who need Him and have God’s best interest at heart. To give us the good news that this is not all there is and to keep the faith. God bless!


    1. Thank you! One of my favorite counseling passages in the one you mention. God never promised us there would be no dark valleys for us; He did promise us that He would walk through them beside us.


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