Have you ever wished you could hear the voice of God more clearly? A sexual abuse survivor, learning to hear the voice of God was a healing game-changer for Michelle Watson Canfield. Speaker, author, counselor and founder of The Abba Project, enjoy this INNER VIEW as she shares her journey and the emotional stability and confidence she has gained through her relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Bio – Michelle Watson Canfield, Ph.D., LPC
Michelle Watson Canfield is a national speaker, author, professional counselor of over 25 years, and founder of The Abba Project, a nine-month group forum for dads whose daughters are in their teens and 20’s. She writes guest articles for journals and magazines and her own bi-monthly Dad-Daughter Friday blog and has been interviewed on numerous radio and television programs. Her best-selling book, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart, is followed by her most recent field guide for men, Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters. She has also written contributing chapters in Fathers Say and How to Disciple Men…
Dr. Michelle is the Dad Whisperer and The Dad Whisperer Podcast radio host. She co-chairs the Father-Daughter Initiative at the National Center for Fathering with her husband, Dr. Ken Canfield. Together, they are preparing to launch the Father-Daughter Summit in 2022 and a Let’s Talk curriculum for dads of daughters.
Kathleen Cooke: What has God taught you about the power of forgiveness to heal?
Michelle Watson-Canfield: I just got married a little over a year ago for the first time at the age of 60! I’m also a sexual abuse survivor, and only God’s healing power could have prepared me for a healthy marriage, as well as being foundational to launching me into a ministry of coaching fathers to build strong relationships with their daughters. I marvel that God is constantly rewriting our stories (Ps.18:24 MSG). Nothing we’ve been through is ever wasted (John 6:12), and I’m humbled to participate with the Trinity and to now invest in the lives of men.
Kathleen: You have a ministry – The Dad Whisperer that helps dads build strong bonds with their daughters. What do you wish you had learned earlier in life that you know now?
Michelle: I wish someone had taught me how to hear the voice of God. John 10:27 says we, His sheep, can hear Jesus’ voice. Learning to hear His voice has been a game-changer for me! Now it’s a constant dialogue with daily downloads from Jesus, Abba and Holy Spirit. I wish I’d learn to know the power of relating to all three of the Trinity. For most of my Christian life, I related primarily to Jesus, with Holy Spirit later becoming more of a focus in my 30’s and 40’s. Then about a decade ago, I had a profound experience in realizing that Abba Father had been with me through my trauma. Jesus showed me His face through it because I wasn’t ready to see my Father yet. I can definitely say that I have had more emotional stability and confidence in my identity since connecting with God as Father.
Kathleen: Many are suffering and depressed in our world today. How can they find hope today?
Michelle: As I think back on my life in ministry, I didn’t know what to do when trauma memories started surfacing. Finally, I sought out a counselor who would ask me, “Where is Jesus in this memory?” Seeing where Jesus was in my story helped bring the truths I’d learned in Bible College into my heart space.
I love Isaiah 63:9, where God says that in all our distress, He too is distressed. I have trauma bonded with Jesus through suffering, which is the strongest bond two people can have. God promises to restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25), and I’ve held Him to that. He’s kept His word.
I used to struggle with Psalm 91:10, where God says, “no harm will come near your dwelling.” I would say, “if this is your idea of no harm, I’d sure hate to see what harm looks like.” One day I heard Him ask, “where do I dwell?” to which I said, “in my spirit.” He said, “they got your body and your soul (mind, will, emotions), but they never got your spirit because my Holy Spirit alone indwells your spirit.” That truth was life-changing for me.
Kathleen: You are a voice in a great place of influence with your inspiring and mentoring podcasts to men and their daughters. What have you learned about influencing others?
Michelle: Influence is something I can’t make my ultimate goal, or else my ego gets in the way. I think influence happens when we don’t even know we have one. It seems that when I focus on wanting to have an influence, I forget that “it’s not by my might, nor my power, but by God’s Spirit” (Zech. 4:6). Only then do eternal things of lasting value come pouring forth.
Proving to illustrate my point, my 85-year-old mom doesn’t see herself as having many gifts, yet she has had a more profound influence on my life than anyone else. She is an intercessory prayer warrior and a woman who deeply loves the Word. The time she spends behind closed doors on her knees while bringing heaven to earth has profoundly impacted my life, ministry, calling and gifting. I don’t believe she’ll fully know all of her influence until she gets to heaven, but I know I would not be where I am and who I am without her powerful influence.