Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Need your help....

 Hey everyone...please click the link and consider the cause.

Kickstarter link for Ragamuffin Christmas

A poem for my daughter...

For Morgan...

What could I give you, to show that I care?
To open my heart and show what's in there.
How can I tell you with more than mere words
How I'm wrapped 'round your finger with invisible chords
And what can I show you that you haven't seen
That displays how I love you and all that you mean

If you run to the desert I would follow you there
Or climb the tall mountains to breathe the clear air
If you sailed cross the oceans to far away lands
To find worlds that you'll conquer
With your own two hands

Dream your best dreams, don't leave anything out
For your hopes and your dreams are what I am about
Look to the future to see where you will go
If you stand on my shoulders, you will get there...I know
If the road is dark, I'll set it alight
And I'll always keep watch for you all through the night

What would I tell you that would help you along
I'd tell you your gift is your heart and your song
I'd tell you again what I've told you before
As much as I've loved you there is One who loves you more
I would tell you to walk with His love as your guide
And trust in His voice as it echoes inside
What message I'd leave you, what lesson instill
It would be that I love you
And I always will

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 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 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 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 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...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Dad Shaped Vacuum...

Yesterday I quoted Blaise Pascal's famous statement about the imprint of God in humanity and how we search for it's replacement for all our days. Pascal was making the point that, since we are created in the image of God, and created for a deep relationship with him, we will never find real peace until we have the relationship He desired and intended.
This statement of Pascal is most often referred to as "The God-Shaped Vacuum".  (A term not found in Pascal's quote)
The principle is that we were created by God's personal touch. We have body, soul and spirit...just like He does. In this way we differ from all of Creation. In the Garden, before the fall, we had a perfect relationship with Him. He went for walks with Adam in the cool of the evening. When Adam and Eve fell, this relationship was severed. Every subsequent generation since Adam and Eve--though still created by God's Hand (Psalm 139)--has missed this intimacy. The problem is that while are all still made in His image, as they were. So we have yet to experience the relationship we were built for. None of us have ever walked with God physically. We have experienced Him...through nature, art, the smile of a baby...but we have never actually had a physical, face to face, relationship with Him. (I am assuming here that those reading my blog know of my faith and know I am presuming the readers acceptance of Christianity and it's spiritual relationship with God through faith in Christ...either by experience or at least second hand knowledge).
Adam and God sat down and chatted. They took meandering walks together through the garden. They were friends.
God had this desire for us all until Adam and Eve derailed this plan (Or actually started the whole plan of Redemption by their fall...depending on your view of Dispensationalism). What God had with them was what He desires with us all...right now. The problem is that we filter everything we believe. Everything.
We filter through the teaching of the Bible, and our parents. We filter through our education, and our desires. We filter through our loves, and our weaknesses, and our vices and our strengths. And because we have never actually seen God...we filter Him through what we can see and what we do know.
God most frequently refers to Himself as "Our Father". Often it's "Our Heavenly Father" occasionally it's "Abba" which is the Hebrew / Greek for "Poppa" or Daddy. He is "The Father of Lights" and the "Father of us all". But ultimately He sees Himself as, longs to be known as, and desires to be our Father.
The problem is two-fold. One: What does it look like for God to be our Father? How do we relate to an unseen being, as we would relate to someone who is supposed to be so beloved as a father? What's the model? Where is the archetype?
That sets up problem number Two: The closest model to God the Father we have on earth is our own earthly father. We relate to God directly the way we relate to our earthly father.
I made this statement yesterday and I know it stirred much thought.
I will conclude here for the day. But I want to leave you with two exercises. Two little "Homework assignments" if you will.
The first is an exercise my own daughter did in pre-school for Fathers Day. The second is an exercise I did in counseling many years ago.
The first is a short questionnaire. It was funny when my then-four year old filled in the blanks. But I think it is telling for us now. The questionnaire goes like this:

My dad is ________ years old
My Dad is ________ feet tall
My Dad weighs__________
My dad's favorite TV shows are_________
My favorite place my dad takes me is_________
When we go there we always get___________
I like to watch my dad___________
My dad always tells me____________

Your assignment is to fill this out twice. Once as best you can with your own dad as the Subject. And once...with as many questions as will apply (use your imagination on some of them) with God the Father as the Subject.

Your second assignment is this. Take a sheet of paper and list out all the descriptives you can think of about your dad. Good, bad, indifferent. Words like "Kind" "Tough" "distant" "smart" get the picture. Paint a word-picture of your father.

Tomorrow we apply it...

*A note going forward. I would ask my evangelical friends to please be patient. Don't presume that if I seem to be leaving out some issues of the healing God offers in this issue, I am ignoring it altogether. You have to spot the problem to fix the problem.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Healing the dad-shaped Vacuum" New Series starts tomorrow...

Hey gang...
It's been a difficult two weeks, for reasons I won't bother going into here. But it has been fruitful as far as introspection and inspiration are concerned.
Tomorrow I am beginning a new blog series called "The Dad-shaped Vacuum". It will run concurrently on my fatherhood blog ( as well.
I took the title from one of my favorite quotes by an early church father, Blaise Pascal. Although not a first-century leader of the faith, he was a great thinker and philosopher whose emotional cries of yearning for God have always captivated me. He is known for his famous "Night of Fire" writings, penned during a long, sleepless night of prayer and searching for God. He is best-known for the following quote, which has been wrongly attributed to everyone from Augustine to Tozer:

"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."    [Pascal, Pensees #425]

The new series is going to be sometimes autobiographical, sometimes observant from the lives and experiences of others, and sometimes pure research-driven. It is intructional, and confessional all at the same time.
The main theme running through this series will be this..."We relate to God our father as we related to our earthly Father". This can be a blessing or a curse. The good news is that if this statement didn't bring a smile to your face, there is a solution.
I'm excited and fearful of this series all at the same time. It is part of my widening ministry amongst dads, particularly divorced / single dads. Please read and re-read the quote above and give it some serious contemplation.
Until Tomorrow...