Many people shy away from intimacy with God because the word ‘father’ conjures up negative feelings. Don’t let painful memories keep you from experiencing His love.
I was born with big ears. As a child, I was teased mercilessly, and until I was 40 years old, I could hardly look in a mirror without feeling depressed.
When my youngest son was born, it was obvious from day one that he had inherited the worst of my physical traits. If anyone ever saw our baby pictures side by side, all they could say was, “My goodness!”
I sent Joshua off to his first day of school, hoping for the best. But it was inevitable. When he got off the school bus at the end of the day, he was sobbing.
“Dad, the kids made fun of me all day long! Everybody laughed at my ears. I never want to go back to school again!”
It was a defining moment in my son’s life, and I knew it. I immediately took him in my arms, held him tight and told him how handsome he was.
My response changed his life. He never had to go through the suffering I went through because I took the time to comfort him.
When I faced the taunts of other children, my own father never comforted or protected me. He was not able to express love, security or affirmation when I needed it most, and as a result, I experienced pain and rejection I should never have had to feel.
Fortunately, a revelation of the Father’s love for me helped to break the cycle of pain in my own life. But for many adults, unresolved father issues from childhood are often a major cause of emotional pain.
Many Christian psychologists believe that the primary influence on a child’s identity is the father-child relationship. When that relationship becomes skewed, children grow up having difficulty relating to other male authority figures. And when they become born again, the issues they have with their earthly fathers often transfer to the new relationship they have with their heavenly Father.
The father issues we have may be unconscious or conscious, but until they are resolved through an experiential revelation of the heavenly Father’s love, we will be unable to experience the comforting, affectionate love He has for us. Our anger, fear and distrust, which is often rooted in our hidden pain, easily spills over into every area of our lives–our marriages, our families, our careers, our ministries, our walks with God–and the effects can be devastating.
All human beings have four basic emotional needs: the need for expressed love, the need to feel secure, the need for praise and affirmation and the need for a purpose in life. As children, we look to our parents, and especially to our fathers, to meet these needs for us.
The family is the place where children learn how to relate to the world, and the lessons learned there are ones carried throughout a lifetime. When these four needs go unmet in childhood, it becomes very difficult for a person to develop healthy relationships, with God or with other people, later in adulthood.
Children look to their fathers to meet the four emotional needs, but unfortunately, no earthly father is perfect. Even the best of them fail to meet all their children’s needs all the time.
At some point, disappointments, hurts and wounds will inevitably take place, and these cause what I call “father flaws” to form in the hearts of our children. The leftover pain and wounds from childhood create a lens through which adults later view the world.
Most earthly fathers will fall into one of six categories, each of which creates a different home environment for the children. As you read through the six types of fathers, think back to your own childhood and try to determine how your earthly father related to you.
Each type of father creates different father issues in the adult children and different hindrances to an intimate relationship with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any unresolved hidden issues you may still have with your own earthly father that are affecting your ability to relate to your heavenly Father and receive His affectionate love.