I speak with all kinds of people as they are healing from old wounds and childhood stuff. Some have big traumas, others typical bumps and bruises from living in a broken world and its’ effects. But this one wound impacts hearts for years, even decades, more than others in my experience:
Abandonment. Being left. Neglected. Ignored. Overlooked.
When the legitimate needs we have in relationships are not met, whether intentional or not, it creates a well of pain and brokenness that echoes into our lives and future relationships. Simply put, it traumatizes our soul. We are created to be loved and to have stable long lasting attachments- beginning with our parents and families, that will point us to our Creator where our deepest needs and longings can be completely satisfied. When these early relationships are not stable, our ability to trust others is weakened. Healing from this is difficult and slow. And requires new experiences where people attach rather than abandon.
I notice a trend in myself sometimes and certainly in culture; we want to keep our options open. To wait till the last possible minute to commit to an invitation. To feel free to break our word because we have changed our mind or mood. To walk away from difficult conversations rather than do the work of reconciling conflict. To preserve our “me time” at the cost of allowing others in our lives to struggle with legitimate needs like moving, or meals when illness hits, or help when a marriage is in crisis. We are keeping the cycle of abandonment alive.
Do you know what fights the hardest against abandonment? Showing up. Not having the solutions, or perfect words or even right attitude. Just showing up. Not waiting till you feel like it. Not making excuses or avoiding. Just plain old being there. I know we need boundaries and cannot say yes to everything and everyone. But for the people God has placed in your life right now in this season, here are ways you can fight for them:
When you tell someone you will pray for them- and then you do: that’s showing up.
When a friend has a rough week and you stop by just to give them a hug or sit with them while they talk about it: that’s showing up.
When someone hurts your feelings or sins against you and you call them to set a time to talk and then you meet up and talk: that’s showing up.
When you remember the single mom on her birthday. When you stop by the hospital. When you take a meal or write a note and mail it: showing up.
I know how hard it is to really invest in others. It requires sacrifice and commitment and sometimes being really uncomfortable. But we do not have to rely on our own strength to do this. Jesus showed up for us long before he ever asked us to do this for others. He joined our mess and loved us while we were his enemies the Bible says. What’s more, after we abandoned God, he took our place and punishment, so that we would never ever have to ask “My God, My God- why have you forsaken (abandoned) me?” When we remember how Jesus attached to us and how we are never alone, it gives us the strength to offer ourselves to others.
It’s an unsteady and broken world we live in. I pray we are women who keep our word, love sacrificially and reflect the God who always shows up in the way we live with others.