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Overcoming Father Wounds: Kia Stephens

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
June 6, 2024 5:15 am

Overcoming Father Wounds: Kia Stephens

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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June 6, 2024 5:15 am

Hurt, neglect, rejection, or abandonment from a father can feel like it tumbles into all of life. Author Kia Stephens gets real about her own painful path through father wounds--and how she began moving forward.

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Connect with Kia Stephens and catch more of their thoughts at and on Facebook, Instagram and X @kianstephens.

And grab Kia Stephen's book, "Overcoming Father Wounds: Exchanging Your Pain for God's Perfect Love" in our shop.

Intrigued by today's episode? Think deeper about Wounds by listening to "Where is God in my Deepest Wounds?"

Reconnect and thrive together in the beautiful masterpiece of a God-designed marriage with Art of Marriage.

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Hey, before we get started, we've got a question for you. How can we pray for you?

I love this question. Because we talk about a lot of serious things here on Family Life Today. And those details about our families, ugh, they often need our prayers. So can we pray for you?

We're serious. Yeah, so here's how you can let us know. Text FLT plus your prayer request to 80542 to let us know. And it would be our privilege to pray for you. That's text FLT plus your prayer request to 80542.

We want to pray for you. I'm sitting across from him and that's when it hit me. You don't know this person. You don't know what to talk about.

You don't know how to get the conversation going. This is not going to be an 80s TV sitcom. You know, that's when it hit me there. I'm a dreamer. So I dream it up in my head.

I just expect it to manifest until I'm sitting right there in reality and I'm like, oh, it's not going to be like that. Welcome to Family Life Today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. This is Janelle Breitenstein from the Family Life content team and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. This is Family Life Today. All right. So we're going to talk about a, in my mind, a critical topic today. I think it is too. I think everybody at some point could resonate with this. I'm not sure we've ever talked about specifically this one. No. I can remember the first time I heard this phrase, father wound.

I think late twenties. Had no idea I had one. Never even thought about it.

And I was reading Robert Lewis's book Raising a Modern Day Night and he used that term. And as soon as I read those two words together, I knew immediately it was like, I have that. I don't even know what it is.

I know I have it. So we've got Kia Stevens in the studio today and Kia, welcome. First time ever on Family Life Today, right?

Yes. Thank you for having me, Dave and Ann. It's a pleasure to be with you.

We're really glad you're here. Your book, Overcoming Father Wounds. And I like to the subtitle, Exchanging Your Pain for God's Perfect Love.

Yeah. So many of us just hearing that overcoming father wounds. I don't think I knew I had a father wound, but I did. And as Dave started working on his and talking about it and we went to seminary and we got into some counseling classes of how to counsel. We thought we were going to learn how to counsel others. When you got counseled yourself. And we realized we got to dig into our own stuff.

Oh, and that's when I started to see like, whoa, I've got a bunch of wounds. But for you to write about it, that's something that has resonated with your heart. So Kia, tell us what you do. I know you're with entrusted women.

What is that? I started off, I wanted to write a book. I really have wanted to write this book since I was in high school. I felt like the Lord. Yeah, it's actually 26 years that the Lord gave me this impression on my heart because I knew there was a neediness on the inside of me.

I couldn't unpack what that was. So literally when I was in college, I started working on this book off and on. I graduated, got married, and I discovered a conference for women writers. I was going to take this book there and I was going to get discovered. And I was going to be famous. Let's all have a good laugh. And I was teaching at the time, an elementary school teacher.

That's what my trade is. And so I had my little book baby on an external hard drive. My little book baby. My little book baby on an external hard drive. That's when I discovered, OK.

I started to realize it's about father wounds. I got married. All these things are happening.

I'm trying to squeeze like several years into a short amount of time. And I was in the classroom having a meeting with the superior. And I go to move my computer from the teacher desk to a student desk. And my little external hard drive with my little book baby was on there. And when I transferred that laptop over to the student desk, the external hard drive slipped out the USB, fell onto the floor. And I had dropped it many times before.

But that time I realized I lost everything. No. Yeah. I mean, this is like a baby.

It was a baby. Yes. Because by that time it had been with me probably 10 years, a decade. And I literally went into a little depression.

Yeah. We tried to retrieve it. I married a techie. I took it home. He took it apart. He couldn't retrieve the data. We sent it off to a data retrieval center.

They said it's going to be like two, three thousand dollars. We didn't have that in our budget. So I lost everything. And I remember just being so discouraged.

But that was God's sovereignty. You know, I wasn't ready to write this book. This is not a book that you just wake up and say, oh, I'm going to write a book about father wounds.

No, you're not. When you get married, a whole nother layer surfaces. And then when you have kids, oh, wait, there's another layer. And then after you write the book, I said, I need to write a sequel.

You know, you know, while you're writing the book, you know, everything will be tested. So that was probably the greatest thing that could have happened to me. And it set me on a path to start blogging. And it was really great because it gave me an opportunity to engage with the women that I believed I was called to reach. And so I started engaging with them and then got sidetracked with entrusted women. You mentioned that where I saw a lack of minority representation in the Christian writing and speaking world, I would go to these writing conferences.

There would be like 10 people there. So I said, what is a way that I could reach this demographic that's not being reached and share the information so that we can widen the the pot, so to speak, and more people can get an opportunity to publish a book. So that was a sidetrack, but it was the very thing that God used to open the door for me to get a book deal.

And I speak on that subject. And then outside of that, I run around like a chicken with my head cut off because I have teenagers married for 20 years. Praise the Lord. Most of the time I'm figuring out what are we going to eat for dinner?

Yes, especially with two sons. Yeah, you are. Because that is a serious gravy train that needs to continue. Never stops. Never. Never. Never stops. They eat.

And then the next word out of their mouth is what else do we have? Yes. Yes. I remember those days clearly. So how did you how did this story come? Obviously, it's a very specific topic, which, you know, as you hear it and read it, I think a lot of us go, oh, boy, didn't even know I had this.

But I think it impacts a lot of people. So what's your story? My parents got married with little knowledge of each other. My mom was the daughter of a Baptist pastor who was a great man, really well known in the community, but he was not an affectionate father. I think it starts there.

Right. Because to say it started with me would be a fallacy. We need to see how how did we get here? My mom had the notion that you get married and it's just a fairy tale and it just works out. So she met my father, who was actually her waiter on a cruise ship.

She went with some of her girlfriends. And my father, he's still a good looking man. And he was even more good looking then. He's Haitian, so he has an accent. He speaks many languages. He knows about food. He's a chef, you know, so he was really a charmer.

And my mother was naive. He's several years her junior and they struck up a relationship when the ship docked and he had free time. He went with them and they kind of fell in love. Kept this relationship going until his tenure on the ship ended. And then he moved to the States and they got married. Wow.

In the living room of my grandparents home. Whoa. So your grandfather married them, probably the pastor?

I don't know if he married them, but I know that my grandfather had reservation. And so now you have this relationship that's really set up to fail from the very beginning. And it did. It spontaneously combusted and my parents had a tumultuous end. I was three. I thought I was a baby, but I was actually three. Any siblings? No siblings. Okay.

I said one is enough. My early memories of my father are at visitation centers. I remember them there being cubicles that I would go in and we would have a time limit. I'd spend time with them.

Then we'd leave. I have one remembrance of going to his apartment complex and there was another woman there. And I remember being in the kitchen looking at them, but I wasn't really paid attention to. And then outside of that, I have more recollection of him leaving gifts on the front porch of my grandparents home, which I appreciate because I know that that is more than some people received. But I do have one memory of him taking me to get a bicycle. That was the extent of my relationship with my father growing up, which I was okay with.

You don't really know that something is dysfunctional or not the way God intended until you see it up close. That was your normal. That was my normal, right? So when I went to college, I remember being in a dorm room of a friend and I asked her about this bookshelf that she had in there. And I said, where'd you get that from? And she said, Oh, I made it with my dad. It was like a ton of bricks because she was saying in that one statement, I have a relationship with my father and this is what we did together. And I hadn't done anything with my dad. And for whatever reason, it brought to the surface a lot of emotion and pain that I had surrounding my relationship with my father. And I remember just doing my best to not show that I was emotionally shaken up by that and get to my dorm room and just sob. What do you think it is that you were feeling that made you just break down? Jealousy, loss, grief is like that comes in waves. I wouldn't have been able to have the language to say I was grieving, but I was grieving what she had that I didn't have. And I wanted, I simultaneously wanted that and also knew it was probably going to be impossible for me to get it. So then that's a little bit of acceptance, right?

Where you have to accept the things you cannot change. Yeah. I mean, what'd you end up doing with that? Did you tell anybody or was it just you kept it inside? I went to someone who was like a mentor for me and told her and little did I know she also had a situation with her biological father. And so it was so comforting.

And then she rolls out for me this prescription, I'll call it a prescription and I'm kind of a prescription girl. You know, I want you to tell me what to do so I can fix this. And if you fixed it like this, then I should be able to fix my situation in the exact same way that you did. And it probably won't take long either. Nope.

You just add water and stir and voila. I wrote this letter to my dad detailing all of the events that I could remember that he missed from kindergarten on up to high school. And I want you to be in my life. I want us to start from where we are right now. When you wrote it and sealed it and sent it, what was your hope?

My hope was that he was going to write me back and all of a sudden we're going to have an 80s TV sitcom relationship. Right? The Huxtables.

Yep. The Huxtables. I'm a child of the 80s.

And I don't know who didn't grow up in the 80s on the Cosby Show, Family Times, Family Matters, Growing Pains. You know, we see these ideal families and we see the relationship and the father's comedic and he's funny and he's there. He's present all the time. He doesn't even, he works and we live in a really expensive brownstone in New York.

But our father is always, he just occasionally delivers a baby. You know, that's what I was thinking that we were going to have that type of chemistry. And I remember he did write me back, but I was always the initiator. I was always initiating. What did he say when he wrote you back? I don't remember much. I remember him saying, I love you. I remember him saying, I love you. I remember that his handwriting was hard for me to decipher.

I mentioned he's Haitian and he kind of writes like part Creole, part English, part I can't read your handwriting, you know, that's just, that's just, you know, so I made out what I, what I could, but I remember when I got back home from college and we went to this Mexican restaurant, my dad loves Mexican food. I'm sitting across from him and that's when it hit me. You don't know this person. Having a conversation is not going to be easy. You don't know what to talk about. You don't know how to get the conversation going.

This is not going to be an eighties TV sitcom. You know, that's when, when it hit me there, but I'm generally, I'm always this visionary that, you know, I'm a dreamer. So I dream it up in my head.

I just expect it to manifest until I'm sitting right there in reality and I'm like, oh, it's not going to be like that. So what'd you do with that thought? I mean, did it discourage you? I kept, no, I'm a fighter.

I am a fighter. So I pursued more. I pursued more.

I gave more gifts. I didn't have any money, but I would take some photos from my mom's photo album. She had those, you know, when you went to Olin Mills, I don't know if y'all did Olin Mills.

They had the little background that dropped down. I took those, which I know she probably paid a nice little penny for and I would make gifts for my father. I desperately wanted the eighties sitcom and I was going to do whatever I had to do to get it.

And so now in my forties, that's why I did it. All of this time, I've been saying, I just want you to love me. I just want you to see me. If I do this, will you see me? Will you meet my emotional needs? Will you be the father that I never had? Will you tell me that I'm beautiful and I'm intelligent and I'm valued and I'm wanted? So I'm just going to do this one more thing because I just want to be loved.

We all want to be loved. Especially by our dad. Yes. That's where it starts. And he never did? He does in his own way. You know, now I think that him leaving the gifts on the front porch of my grandparents home, that was him. Was his way of trying. When he bought that bike, that was his way. My father wasn't fathered. That's what I was going to say. Your dad was already handicapped coming in as most of us are.

Yeah. And my mother wasn't fathered in the way that would help her to choose wisely. What did you do with the wound? I think when you begin to identify that you have a wound, number one, you have a choice because I knew with this book, with the title Overcoming Father Wounds, there's going to be three types of women. One woman is going to- We have men, by the way. And men. Yeah. One woman's going to be like, yeah, like Dave, that's going to say, oh, I got this. I have a father wound.

Another type would be someone who looks at the book and says, I have it, but uh-uh. Not today, Satan. I'm not going to deal with that. Why do you think we do that? Why do we avoid it?

I would say fear. I use this analogy of being in the dark and there's a rattlesnake right next to you, but you're in the dark. So you don't know unless you hear the tail kind of shake. But when you turn the light on, it's like, oh, there's a rattlesnake, what am I going to do?

And you can run, you can do all these things. And I think delving into your wounds is like turning the light on. You might kind of know there's a rattlesnake in the room, but if I don't turn the light on, I don't know for sure. And I don't have to deal with it.

Similar to your father wounds, like I think I might have it, but life is okay. You know, our marriage is, we're okay. We're still together. We stayed together longer than my parents did.

Which is interesting because Dave, I would say you're an avoider of conflict. He recognized he had a father, I'm talking for you, but I think you recognized it for sure. But it wasn't until we got married that anger started popping up. There were consequences of it and he didn't know where it was coming from.

I didn't know where it was coming from. And so maybe you're in that situation you don't want to deal with, but I would guess that you have certain consequences that are popping up and it stems back from. I mean, you have a sense, like you said, there's a snake in the room. I don't want to turn the light on because I don't want to deal with the snake and that snake's not really going to bite me.

And then you have situations. But then at some point you realize, or somebody else sees it, because do you realize you're really an angry person or you're whatever, you're wounded and you're like, I have been bit. And now you're like, oh, I'm just denying it. Ooh, the venom's in you.

Yeah. And it's like, I'm pretending I'm good. Hey, look at me. I'm good. I'm successful. I'm doing this.

I'm doing that. And the whole time you're really trying to be loved and seen by your dad. And it's crazy to think that's underneath it all. And if you don't deal with it, you're going to be a sort of messed up dude.

I like the snake analogy. So number one, I got this. Number two is I have it, but I don't want to deal with it.

Yeah. I've had a lot of women say that actually like, oh, you know, I think it's scary. It's just so scary to unpack what you didn't receive and to find out, oh, this is why I'm like that. I'm needy. I'm desperate. I was desperate in my first marriage. That's why I married him.

I was desperate in college. That's why I dated him where I have trust issues. I don't trust men. I don't trust God. I don't trust, you know, it's scary because I think we generally have a pretty inflated view of ourselves. We don't have a sane assessment.

And so to be told, not only do you not have a sane assessment, but here's the long laundry list of everything that you are dealing with. And it does tie back to your family of origin that takes courage. You know, that takes a willingness to dig in deep. And I remember going to a counselor, she says to me, have you written a forgiveness letter to your, your father? I looked at her like lady, you know, first of all, he wasn't even there. And I came to you for another issue altogether. But I had access to a forgiveness letter template. And so I take this template home and I follow all the steps and write it to my dad.

And I realized I cannot get through this. When I got to the part where I was talking about, I wanted him there. I really wanted my dad there to interrogate the dates and these relationships that I found myself in, uh, when I was middle grades and high school, because I have regrets about that.

It's like, why did you do that? I wanted him to be there to say, no, you don't know her value. You don't know her worth.

You can't hold a candle to her. You should not be here. I wanted him to be there for that. And when I got to that part in the letter, I sobbed. Once I finally got through writing it, I dragged this chair into my bedroom and it's the empty chair technique that counselors use. And I read the letter to my dad and it was very cleansing for me and healing for me to do that. I can't say that it got rid of all of the sorrow and all of the grief, but it was a huge dent in my grieving process.

You know, a lot, a lot happened there for me. I think that's really wise. I'm just imagining our listeners, one, some are thinking, I do have this, I haven't wanted to deal with it, but I could do that letter and I could pull a chair into the room and I could read that letter to my imaginary father sitting in the chair. And I think that would do a lot of good. Yeah, I think it's a start.

It's a start. Because you think it's like, okay, wrapped up, boom, now I can move on and it's a step. And I think tomorrow we got to talk about, okay, so what's healing look like?

And I'd love to hear you talk about how did this affect your marriage? And I think if you do the healing letter, I would read the letter, but I'd also talk to your heavenly father and talk to him about the truth of what you have lost and what you feel. You're saying it to your dad, the dad that's not sitting in the chair, but you're reading it to him. But I think too, to talk to God and to be honest with them and to say, this is what I lost. This is what I missed.

This is what I didn't have. And that just sit for a minute and let him, because he hears every one of those prayers. He catches every one of those tears. He knows those moments when you were four years old and your dad wasn't there. And when you were a teenager and there was no male authority figure to look at you and say, you are beautiful and I am here for you.

He's always been. I couldn't agree with you more, Dave and Anne. I think that's been a beautiful part of the journey, learning what it looks like for God to be your father. I grew up in the Baptist church, so I've heard these statements of like, God is a father to the fatherless.

And it's kind of like, you know, trite because you've heard it so much and it seems ambiguous and impossible to achieve. But as I've continued to be brutally honest with the Lord and share my thoughts and my feelings and sit in silence or just cry mulling over scriptures that say, I knew you in your mother's womb. I formed you.

I know how many hairs are in your head. Those things are very comforting for me, knowing that I can share my feelings with God. We don't serve a God that's static. We serve a God that's not afraid of our emotion or intimidated by. And he's not going to say, you're too emotional. What are you doing? You're crying again about that same thing, which is what some of us have experienced.

Right? That is so refreshing to hear. It really is because if someone is telling you that you're being too emotional, you can know that God will not respond that way by saying, you're being too emotional right now.

How do I know that? The Psalms are proof that God is okay with your extreme emotions. The Psalms often live, when you read through them, they live on the margins of what we'd call maybe the normal human emotional experience, whether that be extreme joy or extreme sadness. And that gives us permission to be 100% emotional before him. He can take it.

If he took it from King David and allowed it to be in scripture, he could take it from you too. I'm Shelby Abbott. You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Kia Stevens on Family Life Today. Kia has written a book called Overcoming Father Wounds, Exchanging Your Pain for God's Perfect Love. This book really offers hope and guidance for healing father wounds and really showing how they affect every aspect of life and then offering a God solution, a gospel solution in that process. So you can get your copy right now by going online to, or you can find it in our show notes, or just give us a call at 800-358-6329.

Again that number is 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. If you know anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one you heard today, would you share this episode from wherever you get your podcasts? And while you're there, you can really help others learn more about family life today by leaving us a review. Now tomorrow, Kia Stevens is back with Dave and Anne Wilson to talk about the impact of father wounds on emotional well-being, and then she'll talk about strategies for healing as well. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us.

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Before we end, we've got a question for you. Where are you listening from? And you know that we're from Detroit. Motor city. Shelby's in the Philly area, and our Family Life Today headquarters are in Orlando. So we're coming to you guys from all over the country, but what about you? We would love to know if you are in one of those areas or where else you consider home. Text FLT plus where you're listening from to 80542 to let us know. So again, you're going to text FLT plus where you're listening from to 80542. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-06 06:33:48 / 2024-06-06 06:45:15 / 11

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