The Catalyst Emotion (Abandonment Part 1)

by | Jan 6, 2021 | Abandonment, Fear, Mental Health, Relationships | 0 comments

Emotions are simply reactions – automatic, spontaneous reactions. When something good or bad happens to you, your first reaction is usually an emotion. Feelings in and of themselves are not wrong. The Bible speaks freely of emotions – raw, vivid emotions. The book of Job contains the biography of a man who lost everything, and expressed deep hurt, abandonment, confusion, depression, loneliness, and anger. The Psalms are filled with intense emotions: anger, fear, bitterness, brokenness, guilt, frustration, loneliness. Jesus himself felt anguish, anger, sadness, loss. So the issue is not that you react; the issue is how you respond.

I believe the one emotion that tends to be the catalyst for all other emotions is fear. And not just fear in and of itself…Fear of abandonment. We are all afraid to be alone. God wired us for relationships so the absence of those terrifies us. Consequently, we are always fighting for control of other people. Why? Because then we think we can control our fear.

This is why every single one of us can admit to being a control freak in our relationships. We are attempting to keep the other person from leaving us – abandoning us. Unfortunately, whenever I try to control my loved ones in order to protect myself, I end up in a conflict. When my attempts at control come to nothing, then I become spiritual. Yeah, I go there (so do you). I start “praying” about it, praying that God would enable me to better control the person. When this doesn’t work, which (here’s the bad news) it is guaranteed to fail, then I vainly attempt to control the situation myself yet again. Except, just as in round one, this fails miserably…so, you guessed it, I pray about it some more…thinking that surely God will give in, because, I, after all, am praying (and with quite a bit of faith, mind you, faith that I am right and justified for what I ask).

James 4:1-3 says it this way, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Do they not come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

That last line in the verse is a doozy: “You do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Fear of abandonment originates from actually experiencing abandonment at some point in our past. We discovered really quickly that people are always looking to others for their love, acceptance, worth and security. Therefore, they only accepted us if we loved and did good to them…The moment we failed and they were hurt, we felt their disapproval and disappointment. They reacted with rejection. Rejection is self-protection against feeling abandoned. This only makes sense, right? I mean, if someone is afraid of being abandoned and I treat them negatively, the message he/she receives is that I do not care about him/her…I am rejecting him/her and consequently, he/she is quick to pull the plug on our relationship as protection against what he/she perceives as the impending abandonment. Now I feel rejected and abandoned. And the deadly cycle continues. We get trapped. And see, God isn’t going to free us from this bondage because we cannot look to people to fulfill us. We cannot allow their love, acceptance, worth and security to be our identity. This is exactly why so many marriages end in divorce and so many parent/child relationships are blown to smithereens. We were never meant to be each other’s saviors.

Sign up to subscribe to Nicole’s blog, podcast, and prayer journal emails.



Recent Podcasts

Scar Stories: Kristen Howerton

I've been loving these interviews lately because we cover so many topics, I can't give you a main theme. I so enjoyed my conversation with Kristen - we talked about purity culture, parenting, race, adoption, marriage, divorce, LGBTQ community, and so much more! I...

Scar Stories: Justin Keller

I'm not really sure what to tell you this conversation was about because we talked about so much! I really enjoyed talking with Justin about divorce, being a single parent, faith, and running, just to name a few of the topics we covered! Make sure you follow him on...

Scar Stories: Jenna Dullilio (Addiction)

I met Jenna through a friend and gosh, I'm so glad I did! She shares her story of addiction recovery on her socials (@jennadillulio) and she was kind enough to join me on the podcast. We had quite a bit in common and I cannot wait for you to hear her honesty,...

Scar Stories: Emy Vasquez

I met Emy and his wife Emily a few years ago when I heard him share his story for the first time at a conference. I listened in tears. He talked about his trauma so vulnerably and hilariously (wild, right?)...I was blown away. This was a few months after losing my...

Recent Blog Posts

Reframing Your Past

I'll never forget one of my counselors explaining to me that we can stop developing emotionally at or around the point of our first major trauma. I was 25 at the time of the session, but I had a 14 year-old little girl huddled up inside my heart, hiding. You see, her...

Why I say F*&% and Other Swear Words

If you've followed me for any amount of time, it's no secret that I love to swear. The irony is that I grew up in a very legalistic, fundamental home, complete with "Swear-Free TV" (a box that would turn on closed captioning and use a replacement word for the curse...

Agree to Disagree

Guys, I am so tired of being angry. Frustrated. Wound up. On edge. Aren't you? I feel like we are in a time and space where we can't even have conversations anymore. We can't share differing opinions, ways of life, thoughts, decisions, etc. We can't sit and listen and...

Again…What now?

I've been getting a lot of desperate messages and texts over the past few days about how to process the re-emergence of the pandemic, the crisis overseas...it's just been too much for us. Most of us had experienced some form of trauma before 2020. However, we had the...

Counseling and Medication

The world is experiencing a mental health crisis. We all had trauma pre-2020, but we got really good at ignoring and coping with that trauma. Then the Pandemic, politics, racial tension, and global panic piled on top of that trauma and we attempted to carry all of it...