1 Peter 1:18, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
In my own journey of healing I’ve seen how a father influences the well being of his children. One of the most awesome revelations of the Bible is that God is our Father. So let me ask, what do you think of when you hear the word father? Do you right away think of protection, provision, warmth and tenderness? Or does the word father bring up other feelings and emotions that are difficult to admit? In early childhood our fathers should be a source of safety and security. They should bring forth a healthy self-confidence in the child. Our fathers should have affirmed and encouraged us as we began to explore the world around us. Our fathers should have blessed us as we entered into manhood and womanhood.
As an adolescent I had many expectations of my father to teach me different things. How to change the oil in the car, how to tie a tie, how to approach and talk to a women, unfortunately, my attempts at all of this and more usually ended in acts of physical, verbal and emotional abuse. My father was impatient and hard to please. My report card was never “good” enough. Even though I had a great baseball game, he always found something to criticize. Inspection of my chores always brought some complaint, it was never “good enough.” My father’s destructive criticism and humiliation left me with the feeling that I had no value. Needless to say, I feared my father. I wanted my father to love and affirm me, but after fifteen years of abuse and neglect, I left home.
Some of you may not be able to relate to my abusive father. You may have had a passive father who wasn’t emotionally present to give you the love and affirmation you needed. Growing up in a family with a “silent” dad, you always wonder, How am I doing? Am I okay? Does dad like me? Is he proud of me? Does he believe in me? You end up going through life with a whole lot of uncertainty and insecurity, and when you wonder what others think about you, you tend to think the worse.
Others because of divorce or a father who was a workaholic, your fathers just weren’t present to provide that which you longed for from them. They were great providers but you were orphaned by the demands of their careers, their broken promises and neglect. Whatever the case, some of us were deprived of the love and affirmation that we needed as children. This left us hungry for love, touch, kind words and attention.
Because of my father’s inability to bless and affirm me, I was bound up in fear, shame, and self-hatred. My father’s lack of calling me into manhood left me confused about my identity and insecure about my gender. My self-hatred kept me in a continual game of comparing myself to others and I always came up the loser in this game. I was never tall enough, never good looking enough, physically strong enough, or smart enough. My nickname while growing up was “Tiny boy.” I was always wondering, who am I? Am I what every one identifies me as, “Tiny?” Which connotes that I am limited, less than. Feeling others would see me as weak; I projected a very tough outward exterior. This is the beginning of what some would call a “false self.”
Inwardly, I idealized other men and their physical size, this further caused me to see myself as less than, somehow deficient, and never feeling like I measured up. Never having received the blessing of my father’s words and presence, I felt incomplete, I didn’t have an inner sense that I was man enough. I felt like a failure physically. Do you know what it’s like to feel like a failure at such a young age? To feel like you have no value? And, to not have anyone speak truth into that void or just answer my questions furthered my sense of I am worthless and unlovable.
My insecurity about myself bred desperate relational attachments, I didn’t make friends, I took prisoners. I was like a parasite, trying to suck the life out of people. For others their insecurities will provoke shame and isolation, thus preventing them from engaging with others in meaningful ways.
Do you see how this thinking that we don’t quite measure up can feed the lie that we must be different? At an early age we can become obsessed with fitting in. If we don’t feel like we do, we will perform for approval and acceptance. We will find our identity in being funny, witty, cool, crude or outlandish, or we will become “good” boys or “good” girls.
“Good boy” defined is someone that gets approval from others through doing “good works.” We show up early to church to help set up and stay late to put everything away. We desperately want that pat on the head or that word of approval because our souls are thirsty for love and approval. Having not received that in my family of origin I sought it in whatever setting I found myself.