Category Archives: Snapshots of an Abandoned Heart

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart, 7

Healing an abandoned heart is tedious work that few are willing to undertake.

Caregiver to youth, adult to adult, us within ourselves.

Whatever the relationship, the process requires significant investment.

Requires placing infinite value on the heart to dispel the labels, lies, deception received.

Necessitates a method that transcends time, ignores fad, refuses to be fickle.

‘Self Help’ is short lived, and fragile.

Psychology is fluctuating with current ‘trends’ and ‘studies’. By its own admission, has no answers to most of the wounds suffered by abandonment, rather offers ‘coping mechanisms’ instead of healing.

There is only one way to truly heal and strengthen an abandoned heart.

You are free to choose not to allow for this method; in doing so, you voluntarily choose something – anything – that openly admits it cannot assure success.

Only the One who created the heart can truly heal it.

Only the One who carried our sicknesses, bore on His own body our diseases, was wounded for our transgressions……is capable of holding, healing, empowering our brokenness.

Picture the colander again.
Full of holes, destroyed by life, circumstance, abuse, personal failure.
Pour water into it….cannot hold it.
Place it in conflict….unable to withstand the pressure and shatters.

Picture a solid bowl, slightly larger than the colander.

Place the colander inside.

Pour water in. It is retained.

Apply pressure. The solid bowl assists to withstand.

It is only by placing our shattered, battered, torn lives and hearts fully into the completeness of Christ can we be fully healed.

There is no other way.

One more thing to note: this colander, placed within the larger bowl, is now stronger than a single bowl would be, even without the abuses suffered.

In the same way, any heart placed fully into the Hands of its Creator is stronger than any other force that chooses independence from Him.

When any heart abandons itself into the Father’s hands, becomes adopted by Him, there develops a force, a peace, a strength that cannot be conquered.

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart 6

The longing is different for father than for mother; even without  knowledge of either of them, the heart will somehow placed them in two totally different roles.

A  little girl’s heart perpetually longs for daddy.



The one whose ‘got her back’ even when she messes up.

Especially when she messes up….

The heart can sense something is missing; many of the ways pursued to fill the void are short-lived bandages on a cancer eating its way through the core.

Everyone needs someone who will simply “be there” no matter what goes on in life.

Absent of that one to lean on, the heart fluctuates between intense search to find someone to fill the void, and piercing independence to keep everyone at bay.

The heart’s constant search for him will fall for ugly substitutes for his love, resulting in more holes in the heart.

Finding him brings an indescribable sense of completeness. Illogical as it may seem, seeing his face & hearing his voice brought peace to one of the deepest corners of the abandoned heart.

Heard all the opinions, acutely aware of ugly accusations.

Logic easily convinces why the labels seemed to fit him.

For all his flaws, he is still father.  Something way down deep felt  –  still  can feel  –  unexplainable loyalty and affinity for the man.

Whatever things he was, or was not, he was my father

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart 5

It was never a question of “if” I wanted to find her.  Her identity was the answer to a forever hole in my heart, a permanent gap at the core of my very person.

The gaping chasm of not knowing the physical origin of my existence was infinitely greater than the risk of potential pain.

Most people have no real sense of what that chasm does inside a person. I’ve read the journals, heard the “diagnosis”, studied the writings of the ‘experts’.  Unless you have experienced it yourself, trying to describe growing up wondering where your life started is something most would be better off remaining silent on.

When the crazy times of life hit, as they do for everyone, there is something to be said for always having somewhere  –  someone  –  to return to. Something to peel everything back to, revealing the core of who you are and where you came from.

Without that, it is like peeling an onion. Layer upon layer upon layer upon layer…with nothing of substance at the core.

Just a big question mark.

A blank sheet of paper in your life’s book.

Landing on ice, instead of falling onto solid ground.

With most life situations the heart feels a sense of trying to walk on ice.

Always trying to find traction, rarely steady, slow & wobbly progress with anything remotely connected to the emotions.

“Hey, I just saw this person who looks like they could be your sister!” To most, that’s an interesting observation of how we can look like others in our world.

The Adopted Heart wonders if maybe it really was a sister….or cousin.

Or mother. Or father.

Faces in a crowd. Voices on the street.

Constant question, persistent quest.

Do I look like her?

Do I look like him?

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart 4

Healing an abandoned heart is tedious work that few are willing to undertake.

From within the individual, the resilience and resolve to rebuild is difficult, painful, time-consuming work. Initially we may have no idea the depth of woundedness in our soul, nor why or how the wounds got there. Other times we have an awareness of what caused the original shattering, yet lack the wisdom and support to put it all back together.  Deciding to voluntarily submit to open heart surgery, without anesthetic, is frightening indeed.

Society sends an endless litany of reason and rationale as to why healing or change is impossible. Most often the skills to cope are chosen over the pain to find healing.

From outside the individual, the “colander, tightrope, expect-to-be-abandoned” person needs a few key relationships that understand the language, fears, and weaknesses. They must also be able to recognize and draw out the unparalleled strengths these hearts have tucked safely away.

Few are willing to stick around.

Most react  –  not respond, react  –  to the wounded one with additional condemnation, rejection, and emotional or physical abandonment.

“You’re broken” with condemnation, instead of “you’re broken, let me help you heal” with compassion.

“The odds say you’ll never make it, might as well not even try” instilling despair, without taking the time to consider  “I know what the odds say, but I believe you can make it!” to bring hope.

Back to the colander.

And the tightrope.

And the consistent fear of further abandonment that is just as constant as breathing.

The key for an Abandoned Heart to heal is to fully surrender its self-preserving nature, completely trusting the Father Heart of God to find belonging, value, and purpose.

The key for those who love Abandoned Hearts is to let go of their own personal ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude, choose to love for the benefit of the other, and trust the Father Heart of God to hold them both.

The answer for both the Abandoned Heart, and the ones who love them, is the same:

Trusting the Father heart of God.

Only the One who created the heart can truly heal it.

The reason psychology says its not possible is because they leave Him out.

In their own self-absorbed way they prove themselves right.

Tragically limited,  forever wounded, but right nonetheless.

While those who choose to trust Him find freedom, power, healing, and strength beyond anything the world will ever comprehend.

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart, 3

An abandoned heart filters everything it sees and hears through a lens that has taught it to expect to be abandoned again at any moment in time.

Self-protective measures rarely cease working; to rest would be emotional suicide.

More often than not, if there is any indication the heart may be abandoned again, it will make the first move, a move that provides emotional and sometimes physical distance to prevent the added blow of rejection.

What was spoken to me:  “When you’re 18, we’re not responsible for you any more. We’ll help you find where you really belong.”

It is highly possible this was intended to be a positive statement, paving the way for me to find my birth parents.

What I heard:  “As soon as you turn 18, you are no longer welcome here.”

What I decided: I would move out as soon as I turned 18. If I leave, you cannot abandon me.  That decision was made before I turned 12.

If the parenting style says “If you want to be part of this family, these are the things you will do.”

What the abandoned heart hears: “We really don’t want you to be part of this family.”

The necessity, when parenting an abandoned heart, is to consistently reassure of love, acceptance, belonging, value.  That’s what plugs up the holes of the colander.  Discipline needs to be put in place when wrong is committed; the only discipline that is effective is that which intentionally maintains the value of the person while addressing the negative action.

Statements of conditional love, conditional acceptance, or consequences of separation cause more holes and multiply the self-protective measures the heart will take.

Because the foundation of the heart was so badly damaged, it frequently misinterprets well-intended statements. It also amplifies pain-riddled or shame-based statements, adding to the holes and decreasing the possibility of trust.

True healing is possible, especially when led by God’s grace. The holes of the colander must be filled one at a time, then the individual must be taught how to plug the holes for themselves as they grow.

It is tedious work that few are willing to undertake…..

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart, 2

One of the areas where the Word of God and psychology have agreed for decades is that the healthiest emotional situation for a child to grow in is with birth mother and father. Bonding is developed throughout the pregnancy, and strengthened in the earliest  months and years of the child’s life.

This heart looks like a solid bowl. If you pour water into it, the bowl can hold it.

Imagine the water being poured in is unconditional love and acceptance, relationship, provision, teaching, discipline, and other parenting privileges.

Life and circumstance may shake the bowl up, some of the water may spill, but the majority of it is retained.  The heart  —  and child  —  grows healthy. Not perfect, but having a balanced ability to receive and give love, value, affirmation.

The abandoned heart looks strikingly different. Abandoned through adoption, death, emotional distance, a number of ways.

Instead of a ‘solid bowl’, the abandoned heart looks more like a colander, a sieve. Shot full of holes by the tearing away of critical relationships.

The same water can be poured into it; the colander is unable to retain it. Doesn’t matter how ‘pure’ the water, there just simply is not the ability to hold it.

“I love you” from a healthy caregiver sounds no different to the abandoned heart than “I love you” at a party.

An abandoned heart, if it dares be honest, may say “I don’t feel loved.”  It is speaking truth. Doesn’t mean there aren’t people around who love….simply means it cannot retain, cannot hold those affirmations like others can.

It’s not the fault of the water, nor of the colander….it just simply IS.

When I look at all the moments of abandonment, removal, rejection in the early years of my life, I recognize a heart that looks something like spaghetti strings held together by a flimsy piece of plastic.

So how does God heal the abandoned heart? How does He create something that can retain Him, retain love, have value to others?

By filling in one hole at a time.

Lovingly, tenderly, through the words and actions of His people and His Spirit, He begins to mend what the world has viciously torn apart.


Tedious work that few are willing to undertake….

Snapshot of an Abandoned Heart, 1

Imagine a tightrope.

High above the circus floor, stretched tightly between two poles.

Narrow, tight, unforgiving.

There is no safety net, nothing to cushion a fall.

No ‘balancing bar’ to hold on to, no special shoes to wear.

No harness to catch a fall, no protection from the inevitable crash that will follow any misstep.

Now, look closely at the person who is about to step onto that tightrope.

It’s a toddler.

Wobbly. Careless. Running without thinking. Unsteady.

Let that picture create an emotion in your mind & heart.

Fear. Apprehension. A sense of significant personal harm about to take place.

Each step dangerous at best, suicidal at worst.

That picture, that emotion, that near guarantee of failure is what the Abandoned Heart feels every time it tries to connect in relationship. Of any kind.

Knowing little or nothing of safety, or the danger ahead, the Heart  – like a toddler  –  will run forward at any opportunity that seems to be offering what it so desperately needs. In less than a second the forward progress can come to a crashing halt.

Then the Heart begins to vacillate between two extremes: run forward at every opportunity, and retreat at even the hint of connection that could produce pain.

The more uncertain the other person, the greater the risk in the relationship, the more the Heart sees the situation as impossible.

The more impossible the Heart perceives success to be, the more they will generate scenarios to create distance between themselves and anyone who might dare to intrude.