In the life of a Jesus follower, there is clear power in testimony. It has the ability to break down walls of mental defensiveness and justification, and speak directly to the deepest parts of another’s heart. We all carry wounds around with us as a result of the gap between what we needed and what we actually received. In this message Greg shares some of his personal journey in healing from the wounds passed on to him from his family.
In our lives we have experiences that could be described as thin places, where the natural and supernatural seem to get much closer than normal and allow us a special insight and opportunity for healing if we press in. The place these encounters happen is our inner sanctum, or imagination. If we regularly make the choice to follow the Holy Spirit in to this space, then we can allow Jesus to minister and heal our hearts from wounds we’ve picked up along our way. We get both positive and negative input from our biological family. We can be thankful for the positive things, but we shouldn’t ignore the impact the wounds we’ve received might be having on our ability to move forward in trust and love of both God and our brothers and sisters.
Greg’s mother passed away when he was two and half years old. This experience had a profound effect on his view of the world at a very young age. Two things seemed to get on his mind through this loss:
- A conviction that he lived in a cruel and capricious world and is alone
- A yearning for a mother’s love
After his mother died, his father remarried a lady who brought a distinct spirit of cruelty and brokenness in to their household. After several years of physical and psychological abuse, at the age of 6 after a particularly cruel abuse, Greg ran out of the house grabbing a box of matches in defiance as he went. Sitting down by a creek lighting and throwing matches in to the water, he built a seemingly permanent wall between himself and the hurt and pain she caused. He resolved in his little brain that “she will never hurt me again.” He described it as emotional suicide, and never again cried when she abused him. It worked incredibly well at protecting him emotionally from her abuses, but it came at a great psychological cost to his ability to feel and trust.
When you’re 6 years old trying to make sense of the world, it just hurts too much to feel that kind of pain, so he shut it off to protect himself. Greg re-told several other severe abuses he experienced as a child both at home at the hands of his stepmother, as well as at school from a system who didn’t have the necessary understanding of his ADHD to provide any type of an environment of encouragement. Although he had revisited some of these experiences before, this week he let himself re-experience them again peeling one more layer off the onion and going a little deeper. In one of those experiences this last week as he was meeting with Jesus in his inner sanctum. He was taken back to that experience down by the creek where the walls first started going up. He saw the anger and defiance, as well as the deep sadness, hurt, and longing in his young eyes. The adult Greg told the Greg as a child that he was smart for protecting himself this way, and he’s going to grow up and meet people who can be trusted, and who are safe, and he’ll want to experience that love, so he’ll have to learn to open himself up.
Jesus joined their gathering at this point, but showed up as a loving, radiant mother and started hugging the both of them together. Jesus ushered in healing for Greg by allowing him to revisit some of these intense emotional experiences and replacing a sense of abandonment and loneliness with hope, safety, and love. By showing up as a mother, Jesus also helped Greg continue to heal from the wounds of his stepmother and satisfying his deep yearning for a mother’s love.
Jesus showing up as a loving mother highlights the individuality and care God has for each of us, meeting us right where we’re at and providing what is necessary for our healing. In reality, God is only fully expressed when thought of as embodying and expressing the divine masculine and feminine together. As noted in Proverbs, Matthew, Isaiah, and elsewhere, attributes or actions of God are often referred to as feminine. If we need a mother wound healed to be more whole, then God shows up as a mother, and vice versa on the masculine side of things.
Our picture of God is shaped by our experiences. The gaps between what we needed and what we received can create resentment and anger to build up over time if left unaddressed. It takes immense courage to confront that which has caused the deepest pain, but it’s also often the place of the biggest break throughs and healing. If your picture of God does not feel too good to be true, then you haven’t gone far enough in to his love.
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16 thoughts on “Where’s Mommy?”
Thank you so much, Greg. You have no idea how blessed I feel to have run across your sermon today. Your vulnerability regarding your childhood has helped me to see those “invisible walls” I’ve also skillfully built to keep me feeling safe, understood and accepted. They also keep me from moving ahead spiritually I’m also seeing how those walls prevent me from being a more open and loving person that I know I can be with God’s help. Keep peeling those layers!
Dear Greg, just listened to your message, very different. To let you know, I am not a believed in god. I left the faith a while ago for a couple of reasons i don’t need to go into. I do shower continue to study the life and teachings of Jesus. I absolutely love him. Both you and Brush Candy and Brian Zahnd kind of keep me feathered to Jesus and his teaching.
I do want to thank you for your very open heart, your unashamedly truthfulness and courage to share your story.
Know, we don’t know each other, but I love you man, and thank you for you.
Sincerely, Noel Axton
P.S. I read just about all 1400 pages of your book. I’m not sure about all that, but it’s a hel l of an effort.?
THANK YOU! I can’t express my gratitude for you Greg and your follow through on prompts by the Spirit. It was very painful to listen to the Mommy message. God provided beautiful healing images to me also. Seeing God as a loving Mother will add to my wonderful journey and walk with Jesus and provide continued healing and also a deeper understanding of my mom’s own painful life events.
Thank you God for Greg and his authenticity and brave vulnerability. Deeply grateful.
In His Love
Greg Boyd messages have always challenged me, always pushing the envelop. I did struggle with the Feminine Aspects of God. I listen to the message twice and will listen more. If this message came from anyone else I would have dismissed it and filed it under Hersey. I think the is value here and I can see how this could be such a healing experience. But this message almost pushed me over the cliff pushing every paradigm in me strenuously to the edge of almost popping. Too early to tell if this is good or bad. The message is worthy of Contemplation.
This healing that Greg is talking about is real and its time the church stops focusing not the outward action of “sin” and actually believes that our battle is NOT against flesh and blood… even ours. I was addicted to porn for 40+ years and was a leader in the promise keepers moment.. having meetings in my office every week continually battling my addiction and trying to help others… our focus was on our disabilities and we ignored our ability of knowing who we are IN christ. The first time I heard about this type of spirit healing was in YWAM doing a counseling school. the Holy Spirit walked me into a almost forgotten Father memory and showed me where I took into myself a spirit of anger/rebellion and at 12 years of age began my addiction. The lie was that I needed that to bring comfort so it became my go to whenever I was struggling with self confidence……. Seeing “sin” for what it is “a lie planted by the enemy” allowed me to begin to live completely unhidden before my wife and family… confession of “sin” is meant to bring healing… I am 5 years completely free from that bondage that kept me seeing myself as a sinner… I am a Son!! There is Hope… it’s in Jesus!!
Jacob, thank you very much for your testimony and insights and the auto biographical information you shared as well. Your testimony is very freeing to me and some of the current battles that I am navigating through . Seeing sin as a lie and seeing spiritual warfare in the role it plays and having the proper image of God seeing Christ crucified and myself as His beloved son has been an encouraging game changer. In some ways I’ve learned more from Greg Boyd than all of my seminary education. At age 61 I am experiencing a spiritual awakening. I hope more people will write in.
WOW ?. I didn’t realize the hang up I had with this. I sobbed most of the way through this, but it was so healing. Thank you Greg, for being obedient to the direction God gave you. Next time, put a disclaimer on for your podrishioners ;). I might be in public the next time you pull a tear jerker, lol!! Thank you so much for being vulnerable. I know I needed to hear this for some healing!
I think it is a dangerous road when you start taking God and naming him how you feel and according to your needs. He supplies all our needs, yes he can fill the void of a lost mother or fathers love but to take away his identity as a man and allow that to be a fluid gender opens His nature to be up for change according to your whim and need. We are made in his image, meaning we have a mind to think, will to chose, emotions to feel, and a conscience to know. Man and women were giving those in Gods image that does not mean our view of him should change to a women or which ever gender’s love we feel need for the day.
I totally agree. It was very upsetting to hear Greg refer to God as “her” last Sunday.
I think the referring to God as a she is overwhelming to many of our Categories of thought. Mine’s included. It gets too close to New Age beliefs and it seems to threaten what many believe about orthodox Christianity. I have a deep respect for Greg and believe he’s a genius of sorts and is very much authentic. My hunch is as we try to get our mind around some of the mysteries of theology is like eating fish. We have to watch out for the bones. Not sure what to do with the bones But I do not wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Well, God created a motherly type of love, so I’m sure He can dispense it to us whenever and however He desires. Does that mean we should refer to God as a she, or as a mother? Probably not. Jesus always referred to the Father, and never the Mother. And Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as a “he”, and never a she. I think we should probably follow Jesus’ lead on that.
God’s creation of humans—male and female—in God’s own image signifies that God is the fullness of masculinity and femininity; God transcends gender binaries and constructions. Fatherly (masculine) love and motherly (feminine) love are different. Both important, but different. God is the perfect blend of BOTH … God is LOVE. I can’t imagine God cares if we refer to him/her as him or her, he or she, or father or mother. Thank you, Greg, for your personal testimony. It was beautiful to see your vulnerability and openness. Too many are afraid to speak about their feelings and instead keep them tamped down…causing themselves and their loved ones even more pain and disconnect. I hope this message encourages others to share their own painful experiences with a trusted friend or confidant.
I agree men and women are equal in the eyes of the Lord. I agree that God has masculine and feminine traits or capabilities. I also agree these issues are to be explored. I believe that Greg is genuine orthodox and is a awesome human being and One of the best pastors and theologians I have encountered.However I do think because we live in a transgender culture relating to God as a he and she in a public platform Does not add clarity to that transgender discussion, or some of the discussion in New Age circles. It would have been helpful to all if Jesus related to God the father and a mother also. And since we have no record of that it is hard to totally sign in with the he/she concept of God. It might be helpful for Greg to conduct a Q&A
First and foremost, the Bible refers to God as a spirit. He cannot be explained or viewed as being who belongs to the category of humankind. Nevertheless, both female and male as the image of God reflect something of God’s nature. Whatever that is, it is surely not a physical likeness (but maybe the mental, moral and social resemblance as many theologians would suggest). If that is true, it can be somewhat misinforming to refer to God exclusively as ‘he’ as God does not resemble exclusively male-traits. Indeed, to use ‘she’ to stress this point is, then, very well justified. Now, whether that is too confusing or not… I don’t think it is. To be sure, to explain the Trinity is a way more complex and potentially confusing than the matter discussed here. Yet that is the very reason for teaching about the Trinity from the platform. Why wouldn’t the same logic apply to this he/she matter, too?
Ps. thank you, Greg, for your encouraging sermon.
Thank you everyone for sharing your views here! I’m Barbara, the webmaster of this site as well as Greg’s site (reknew.org).
As you might know, Greg has a podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/greg-boyd-apologies-explanations/id1121364768?mt=2) where he answers people’s questions, and this topic came up today while recording, so I read Greg a couple of your concerns voiced here. His responses will be published as part of his podcast — the episodes will come out in a few weeks so I will comment on here again once those are live, along with links so you can hear his answers.
Thanks again and God bless you! 🙂