When we are wounded, it’s like a little place in our souls is broken or crushed. The more pain we experience, the more broken our hearts become. Since this process begins in our very early years, many of us grow up accumulating a lot of pain at the hands of others, our environment, our circumstances, and our own self-sabotage.

To try to make the pain stop, we self-medicate through addictive living. As a result, we end up in terrible bondage, wondering how to end the constant turmoil in our hearts. Only Jesus can heal the pain in our hearts. He is the one who came to bind up the brokenhearted (see Isa. 61:1); it’s His specialty.

But instead of turning to Jesus for healing, many people try everything else.

In my own life, I spent many wasted years self-medicating for a variety of reasons. Here are at least three:

1. I was afraid of being vulnerable because I didn’t know how to trust others with my heart. The unhealed filter of my past experiences taught me that the risk of trust would likely result in more injury through judgment, betrayal, and wounding.

2. At times, my pain was so familiar to me that I couldn’t imagine life without it. Even though it wasn’t helping or working for me, it was what I knew.

3. At other times, I feared being rejected and thought if people knew the real me or things from my past they would not like me. All this resulted in me rejecting most people before they had a chance to reject me.

Because of these reasons and more, many who seek greener pastures must come to the end of themselves before they will return to the Father.

When God’s children stray from His heart, it is often because they wrongly see themselves as unlovable orphans. This causes them to question the Father’s love for them, no matter what He does.

But just like the father of the prodigal son, watch how our heavenly Father responds to us when we stray from His heart and then find our way back home. He does not scold or punish or make us prove we have changed. He does not take away our status as His children and heirs in His Kingdom.

Instead, He welcomes us home with open arms, rejoicing in our return. And like the father in the story, He reminds us of our inheritance as His children. He gives us the robe of righteousness, which shows our right standing with the Father and membership in the royal family. He marks and seals us with His Spirit, who reminds us of our true identity as sons and daughters. And He gives us the shoes of peace, with authority to co-labor in the family business to establish His Kingdom wherever the soles of our feet tread. This is the Father’s heart toward us.

Friends, this year — resolve to live FULLY and DEEPLY LOVED BY GOD.

And if you need help doing that, I encourage you to read my book “Loved Like Jesus.” It will help reveal the lies the enemy has planted in you, release you from the bondage of shame, and help you walk each day in the acceptance and love of Father God. Start the New Year off right and order your copy today!