Do you relate to this powerful prose? I watch in tears. These wounds have hitch-hiked across my lifespan, like unwanted passengers, seemingly since the beginning. They are often overlooked. I prefer performing as though they don’t exist.
Yet the term “father”, though I’ve despised it, demands attention when I become the overseer of my own little ones. Like me, their future faith is molded by their image of fatherhood.
As parents, the startling reality is that how we love our children prepares their hearts to trust others and to ultimately trust God. As time ticks, love lingers and connection continues. Conversely, many of us know firsthand that pain is passed, shame is shared, and disconnection is dealt downward from generation to generation. Our wounds and scars attest to this.
Aware of past personal lessons of loss, we feel lost in loving well. How can we pass a torch that was dropped decades ago? How can healing begin here?
I wonder, is our Abba the answer? His Word says that we “have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry ‘Abba’, it is that spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (see Romans 8:14-16). When we are invited into our divine Daddy’s family, does that not change us? When God’s fathering eclipses experiences with our faulty fathers, does it comfort us to the core?
Maybe many followers have failed to have this experience, acting as if their earthly father’s face is painted upon God’s. But our projections do not parallel reality. Our heavenly Father is drastically different.
Brennan Manning explains how “scripture suggests that the essence of the divine nature is compassion and that the heart of God is defined by tenderness”. He shares that “the experience of a warm, caring, affective presence banishes our fears. The defense mechanisms of the imposter – sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others – fall away. We become more open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender” (p 64-65).
Abba’s love does not erase our wounds. Instead, like a healing balm, it soothes them. He meets us in our wounds, comforting us, that we may comfort others in the same way (2 Cor 1:4). This new father experience is necessary. It frees us to love and lead our children from tender, healed hearts.
As we experience God’s affection and tenderness, our children will experience this in us as well, planting seeds of faith that will someday blossom. Our children will learn to trust that the true heart of a Daddy is attentive, caring, and responsive. They will grow up freed from the burden of mistrust and suspicion toward a God that seems all too absent. As we enjoy the authentic fatherhood of our adoptive Abba, may we pass that torch forward through time, that our children would bless, not curse, the name “Father”.
Prayer of a Fatherless Father
Father, love me. That I would sense how a father loves his child and love my children tenderly.
Father, teach me. That I would learn how a father teaches his child and teach my children patiently.
Father, guide me. That I would know how a father guides his child and guide my children faithfully.
Father, comfort me. That I would comprehend how a father comforts his child and comfort my children compassionately.
Father, delight in me. That I would experience how a father delights in his child and delight in my children joyfully.
Father, hold me. That I would feel how a father holds his child and hold my children securely.
-By Forest Benedict
*If you found this article encouraging, uplifting, and/or inspiring, please follow my blog to receive future posts via email.