Father-sized wound. That’s how each of us leaves our parents’ houses. No matter how great our dads were throughout our formative years, they’re not perfect and they were never meant to be. Our dads were only ever meant to be a human metaphor for God the Father. The fact is that we desperately need a Father and depending on our individual fathers, or lack thereof, we will have problems understanding who He is.
I just finished reading “Father Fiction” by Donald Miller. I didn’t think I’d find much as my dad was around for most of my childhood, though he spent long hours at the office starting a business. Regardless, the book (an easy read even for me) rocked my world to the very foundations. It helped me understand that my own understanding of God, especially my difficulty in doing so is directly correlated to my childhood experiences with my dad.
“You weren’t loved enough when you were little.” Yes, that was a quote from Talladega Nights, but seriously, the book allowed me to make a very direct connection between my youth and who I am right now. Honestly, if you know me at all, you realize I have a problem with authority. I’m not brazen enough to challenge it outspokenly, but I will quietly rebel and often. I don’t trust authority. I believe that trust was negatively reinforced when I was young and I never made a positive connection.
Submission remission. When I first recall my parents, my dad was the law giver, disciplining me I don’t remember what I got in trouble for or the punishment. No, what’s stuck with me was what I didn’t get. After I’d been sent to my room and I had calmed down my sobbing, I went back downstairs to get a hug from my dad. Upon sight, I was yelled at and the connection had been made. What I was seeking was not an escape from punishment, but a reinforcement that my parents, particularly my dad, still loved me. Instead, what I took away was that he was upset.
God doesn’t punish in love. That’s what I took into college and now today. Therefore, I don’t trust that authority in general is my benefactor, but just a set of laws that someone will yell at you for breaking. And guess what, I’m a relatively well adjusted person for my age and I know it. Even so, I’m deeply screwed up. What should that say?
It’s no one’s fault. The solution here doesn’t begin with blaming our parents, because I honestly believe they did what they knew at the time was best. In all likelihood, they were trying to correct the mistakes of their fathers and did a humanly job of it.
To my own parents, I say, “Thank you both for everything. It was more than I could have asked. Words cannot express how fortunate I feel to have had you and have you now.”
It takes a village to raise a child, but a community to raise an adult. This is the only way forward. Immersing ourselves completely in community filled with people of all ages. We need elders to help usher us into maturity and wholeness. We need peers to wade through the marshes hand in hand and we need those younger to learn to care for and well. If any component of this is missing, a part of us most likely is as well.
Reader and friend, please consider this a conversation begun. We are all human, therefore we’re broken vessels in need of a Healer. We are all fish out of water, but the water we truly need is that of a different kind. We can continue in our doomed state, or we can begin repairing this void within us. They may look different, but we all have it. I’ve shared a little what mine looks like, but what about yours? Do you even know it’s there? Regardless of your knowledge, it is and it’s a Father-sized wound.