Fathers want to be with their children. They want to spend time with them, to care for them, to love them. They want their children to know how much they would risk to protect them. Fathers want children to know what they’d do if they lost them. This is what Fathers do.
However, Fathers and children relationships mine included sometimes are often fraught with tension and conflict, because of a failure to understand that children must chart their own course.
Many of us, even in middle age like myself, experience the continuing inertia of unrealized adulthood because we are still preoccupied – often unknowingly, with lamenting an absent or less than ideal father.
Living in our dad’s shadow.
Suppression was our first piece of armor we strapped on when growing up.
“To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – Dr. Ashfield’s
When we were children, tears came easily and freely at inconvenient moments. We were taught crying is a source of embarrassment especially for boys, so as young as 4 years old we learnt to push emotions down to stop the flow of tears.
Fearing the Shadow
Shouldn’t our earthly fathers give us a picture, or a shadow, of what God the Father is truly like?
Most of us as we were growing up were frightened & terrified of our earthly fathers.
Many questions lingering in our minds over time has kept us away from experiencing God’s love.
- How can we come to God without fear when we’re scared to go home when our Dad is there?
- How can we understand God’s love and faithfulness when Dad left town because he loved someone or something more than us?
- How can God be a mighty fortress of protection when Dad hit/beat instead of hugged?
- How can God be a firm foundation of trust and assurance when Dad built in us a mountain of disappointment and insecurity?
It’s devastating that the very thing God has given us to reflect his love and mercy and faithfulness is the very thing keeping many of us from crawling into our heavenly Father’s lap.
Way forward, out of the shadows
A number of us are fighting how to trust, that God thinks of us differently than our dad.
We need re-calibration. What do I mean?
We need to learn to look at God first as our first source of fatherhood, Instead of looking at our dad’s and then back at God. If we don’t start with God, then he would always be the replica rather than the original.
This recalibration means also turning to Scripture to fill our minds with the true nature of God. Through his gracious Word, he shows us:
He doesn’t stay angry.
He takes our wrongs and faults and covers them in his Son.
Since his grace and mercy are new each day, we don’t have to wake up tiptoeing around in his presence.
We can run to him, freely and confidently.
He doesn’t hang our shortcomings over our heads;
He treats us with constant grace.
He hasn’t given up on us.
So don’t run away from him too. Our heavenly Father is truly unlike any dad we have ever known. He isn’t mad. He isn’t coming home waiting to punish us. He’s waiting to shower us with mercy and grace.
God’s glorious fatherhood should be, and can be, the great lighthouse that draws us in from dark storms and raging seas. It brings us in from rushing waters.
Out but, into the shadow of our Good Father – God
God our Father is the only One who can work so powerfully, that He can take all of our hurts, and turn them around for good somehow. He can bring blessing from the hardest of places, so that down the road, we can bring hope to the soul of another, we can grow stronger, and learn to lean on His faithfulness.
He promises to never leave us alone, left to fend for ourselves or try to figure things out on our own. He forgives and helps us to forgive. He gives us the power to let go of resentment and bitterness, to choose what is better, so that we can keep moving forward.