Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Dad-Shaped Vacuum continued

I hope the readers have done their "homework" It's important. Here's where we get to the heart of this topic.
Compare the word pictures of your earthly Father to the word pictures of God. This entire exercise depends on your being honest about your view of God. How did it compare?
If you used words for your father like "Loving" "Kind" "interested in me" you probably used similar words for God. If you used words like "Distant" "harsh" "selfish" or "mean"...sadly you probably used them with God as well.
What is more difficult is that we filter our relationship with Him through those descriptives we use. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we project those words that describe our fathers on earth right onto our Heavenly Father. If our dad was kind and loving we see God that way and we respond to Him that way. If we saw our dad as interested in our lives, cherishing the chance to be our father...we can easily understand a God who "comes that they might have full, abundant life" John 10:10. But if our father was distant, unconcerned with our lives, if he ignored us or pushed us away...we see God the same way and it effects us negatively.
My own situation has yielded this same same fruit. Between a father I never even knew existed until I was 21, and my mothers husband who was as distant and removed from anything resembling a relationship as he could be, my view of God was and has been distorted. Try as I do, I still see Him through the eyes of a child who longed deeply for a father-son relationship but who never received it. I see God as cold, hard, distant, very annoyed with any request I might have...even requests to just "hang out".  I could approach Him for someone else without hesitation...but for my own needs I cannot. With my stepfather there was always a bargain involved. Any favor, any request had to be handled on the barter system. "If you'll do this with me, this thing that you want will happen".  I got used to just not asking for anything at all. On the one hand it made me independent at a young age but on the other hand...it set up a pattern of never coming to God for my needs and for a fatherly blessing. It's a pattern that continues to this day. I struggle with praying for myself. I struggle with seeing myself as a beloved son whom a father can't wait to hang around with.
Couple this with the tremendously turbulent revelation at age 21 that my father was actually someone else whom I had never met, and whose name had never even been uttered in my presence since I was maybe 3 years old...you have a recipe for disaster.
Since the age of 27, when I first reached out to him hoping for a relationship, my father has remained staunch in his refusal. I have spoken to him face to face twice in my life. I have seen the color of his eyes and felt his handshake just those two times. He wants no relationship whatsoever. None. He returns no phone calls and broaches no discussion of a meeting. If there were a way to go back in time and undo me as a human...he would likely pursue the option. It's as complete and total a rejection as exists. I have moved from shock, to fear, to longing, to anger and finally...now...to resolution. This isn't going to happen. He isn't going to care, to consider me his flesh and blood, to ever take a step in my direction and begin a relationship of any sort. I have no choice but to accept this because to wrestle it further would cause even further damage and I have little left in my soul that isn't already wounded by this truth.
This is pretty revealing stuff and some may become uncomfortable with my brutal honesty. I will not name either man in this blog, and honestly I have no further ill will. To be frank I have simply become ambivalent about them both. To me, one man abandoned his son for reasons he has yet to reveal (after this much time I am inclined to believe the reasons aren't very good...otherwise they'd be offered) and continues this abandonment today. The other saw a little boy as a throw-in to what he really wanted and behaved as such. While insisting that the father was removed from any contact, he never actually stepped in and became a dad. He created a vacuum and never tried to fill it.
What resulted was an orphan. While growing up with a man in the house...there was not a dad in the house. There is a difference.
This past weekend I was reflecting on this quite a bit. It was turbulent and painful and it was tiring. I came to some conclusions and some of them weren't very pretty. Some were very sad.
I realized that two things happen when you have a Dad-shaped vacuum.
One: You don't know what it's like to have a real "Dad".  Not a biological father, but a daddy. A Poppa. You don't know what it feels like or looks like and you can't relate to any father figure properly because you don't recognize the paradigm.
Two: (and this is perhaps the saddest by-product) You don't know how to be a son or a daughter. Not really. A son with a great dad knows what he has and he knows who he is. He is confident in his dad's love and care and he dares to dream big dreams because his dad reminds him early on that he will do everything he can to make those dreams come true. He raises his son or daughter carefully...like a gardener. He doesn't raise children...he grows adults. He is invested in them and his greatest single joy is their becoming who and what they were meant to become.
I realized this weekend that I have no idea what it means to be a son. Not really.
I need to learn this. That's why I am writing this series.

See you tomorrow...

4 comments:

Shawn said...

Craig...incredible. Thank you so much for this blog. It is such a warm comforting place in this trial of divorce and the dry times of waiting to see my children. Please keep the messages of God coming to us that so desperately need it!

CraigD2599 said...

Shawn,
Thank you for your comments. I will continue this blog for as long as there are men who need it, my friend. And the radio show will resume in about 10 days. Take care...
Craig

Benjamin said...

Craig, thanks for your blog. I discovered it 6 months ago as I sat alone in my empty house after my wife had left me that morning and taken our 3 kids. Every once in a while I pop back to read your insights.

In my situation, I was an at-home dad. Though I personally had an ever present and involved father, per se, I have no recollection of him spending any quality time with me...so, I was determined to have a different role in the lives of my children. Yet, the separation has meant I have gone from full time care to not seeing my kids at all as my ex wife and her family work together to ensure I see them as little as possible. Frankly, it's appalling....and it's totally soul-destroying for someone like myself who defined himself solely as "Dad".

I am full of anger and bitterness! I understand that those sentiments won't help me in the long run but it's my reality at the moment. I both admire and despise your ability to accept graciously the ramifications of your divorce in regards to your relationship with your daughter. Missing out on my children's lives (mostly my 8 yr old daughter, the youngest) is absolutely killing me inside.

At 45 years of age, without a home or a job, it's pretty difficult to get excited about "starting over". If this is God's plan for my life, I'm not so sure I want anything to do with that plan.

Sincerely,
Benjamin

CraigD2599 said...

Benjamin...
I didn't always accept the plan. Sometimes I still wrestle with it. I can feel the hurt you are holding inside. How can I help you? My email is craigd2599@gmail if you want to respond privately. You aren't alone...please reach out.