Did you ever listen to something that stirs a strong emotional chord? On Monday, I was listening to Pastor Paul Booko of Riverside Church. The church is located in Three Rivers, Michigan. It’s Father’s Day and Paul is giving an encouraging message about being a father.
I would have politely listened and I wouldn’t have given it, much thought. Why should I? I’m not a father or spiritual father. Before I continue, here is a link to “Dad’s Fest“. It’s the message that I listened to on the Internet.
What happened? Why am I writing a story about fathers, the day after Father’s Day? The story starts when pastor Paul Booko mentions the father wound, at the beginning of his message. As I listen, a strong wave of painful emotions began rising inside me.
My heart was filled with a growing sense of sadness and grief. I could feel the ache of the father wound in my own heart. I know about it and I won’t go into the technical answer, here. However, please visit the link in the above paragraph. It will take you to the Fathers For Good site.
As Paul continues his message, I asked the Holy Spirit for help in sifting through the flood of painful emotions. What is the father wound? Somehow, our perception of God, the Father get shaped by our imperfect earthly fathers.
My father is not a physically abusive man or an alcoholic. My dad was born in 1939 and he was a tough guy, when growing up. He was known for walking to the beat of his own drum and Dad could care less about your opinions. He was also a protector and I do appreciate this part of him.
Sounds good? You should get a whiff of his mouth.
My father did not have much respect for authority and he would regularly give teachers, a hard time. My dad was also known for his temper and for being critical of others. This trait didn’t change, as he got older. Though I do have wonderful memories, there are plenty of painful ones, too.
In the background, I could hear Paul talking about a father’s approval or acknowledgement. I could sense a crescendo of emotions being reached, at that moment. For me, I could scarcely recall my father showing awareness of my interests or my accomplishments. So, it seems.
My father wanted a healthy son, who could share his interests and perhaps join him in the construction trade. I was born with serious disabilities and I had very different interests and my own destiny. In some ways, I felt like a disappointment or a failure.
How can I be so certain? Though painful emotions do distort real memories; they do have a basis for existence. It’s for this reason that I quickly prayed and ask my Father, for help. It’s very easy to go down a wrong path.
For me, I can recall my father, being critical of my speech, math skills and my literary interest. Dad could rattle off math problems in his head; I could never do it. For me, it has to be a calculator, computer or pencil & paper.
When it came to literature, I never shared an interest in classic literature like Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”. Yet, I would sit and read a King James Bible and my dad never knew it.
I felt like a failure or a disappointment. I desperately wanted my father to admit that I was intelligent and a capable person. No, my father never actually said it and he’d kick my butt for thinking it.
A few years ago, a friend shed some light this story. Rod suggested the problem could easily be with my father and not me. A disabled child is a very difficult thing for a guy, like my dad. It’s possible my father struggled with his own sense of failure. It doesn’t change the reality that he did care for my two brothers and I.
With such understanding, it can help with forgiving one’s father. How does this relate to my Father in Heaven? If my dad was an indication of God, the Father, then it helps to explain why I thought my Father was angry, disappointed and not caring about my struggles.
Over the years, I would overcome these false impressions of God, the Father. I did it, with the help of a loving Father in Heaven. In time, I would discover my Father is truly rich in lovingkindness, merciful, compassionate, and slow to anger. See Psalm 103:6-18 from the Message Bible, for a good rundown.
In truth, my Father is aware of my physical challenges. He just doesn’t see them, like I do. Does this sounds familiar? My earthly father had a similar view. My Father arranged the place, for my schooling. It’s no accident that I grew up in a forward thinking school district.
It doesn’t stop there. Over time, I came to learn the differences between my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. As it happens, I wrote a story on this topic. It’s called The Sunfish: A Picture Of Two Fathers. I wrote this story, about three years ago. Enjoy!
Over the years, I’ve come across many good resources that can help in inner healing. Years ago, I had the pleasure of listening to an audio version of ‘The Father’s Love Letter.” It is a blessing to listen to.
If you prefer, go here and read the text version of “The Father’s Love Letter”. It contains the both the text and the Scriptures. I hope this will help you, on the road to healing and knowing who your Father is.