Many of us believe we are simply unlovable. The wounds we have received early in life have dictated what we perceive and believe about ourselves and God. When we received these wounds it often resulted in shame and subsequent performance in an effort to gain love from those around us. However, until we are healed we will sabotage relationships subconsciously to prove what we perceive about ourselves—that we are unlovable. It takes others who are close to us to recognize this root issue in our lives and be willing to love us unconditionally. God forces us back to the place of our wound in order to bring us to a place of freedom and deliverance into the broad place He desires for each of us.
Many of our young people suffer from emotional abandonment. Their fathers failed to invest emotionally in them and they grew up angry, not knowing why they are angry. It is because they were not given what every child needs—emotional intimacy with their fathers. Emotional validation is so important to children and teenagers, it tells them they have value and are loved. Withholding affirming words and appropriate physical affection can be as damaging as negative words or no words.
God made me revisit my place of wound in order to give me deliverance and freedom, and in the process I discovered that I was not wounded by negative words spoken to me, but it was the positive words withheld, never spoken to me that really wounded me. I was emotionally abandoned.
To truly believe we are loved by God and can experience that love, we must overcome a number of personal hurdles. Many of us must overcome the dysfunctional family systems we were brought up in. Our earthly fathers may have taught us that a Heavenly Father could be a dictator, a rejecter of his own offspring, a sexual abuser, a boot camp sergeant, or a traffic cop. These attributes have been the only characteristics of earthly fathers that many people have known. So, to relate to a Heavenly Father as unconditionally loving requires a miracle of sorts. There must be a time of healing from such wounds in order to experience God at a deeply personal love level. This often requires an intentional process of counselling or personal ministry. We must replace what we experienced with what we know the truth to be—that we are loveable and that our Heavenly Father loves us.
Six things Boys need to hear from their earthly fathers to overcome life’s challenges.
1.I love you!
I’ll be honest with you. I do not remember my father ever even putting their hand on my shoulder or ever hearing the words “I love you.” I barely remember my father or brothers or sister ever even talking to me until I was an adult, so my wound was that no words were spoken to me. The message I received from this wound was that “you have no value” so I ran through life doing whatever I could to create value and prove my worth. The lies were that I had to make it on my own, no one would ever be there for me and the outcome and the results were completely up to me.
When I first heard that statement in the Bible, I found it hard to grasp. “Yeah, I believe that God loves me if I have been good and not sinned.” Or, maybe I might think, “Yeah, I guess I can believe that sometimes.” Or, “Well, you don’t know how much I’ve failed God.” That one statement can reveal how much we’ve all been impacted by shame and our need to perform to gain love. Satan kept pouring on the lies that there must be something wrong with me and if I ever failed I deserved to be punished. I felt like a small beggar child in life alone and vowed that no matter what I would make it on my own, be self sufficient and never let anyone get too close to me. If they did, they would only hurt me, reject me and I’d be alone and let down. I soon grew into a young man and was not prepared for taking the world on all by myself so I became a “distant, self sufficient man” bent on succeeding no matter what and never knowing what intimacy and true love was.
In my own experience, deep down I didn’t really believe God loved me without conditions. Part of me required me to earn that love. Our actions often determine what we really believe about God, don’t they? Our ability to see God as an unconditionally loving Heavenly Father is formed by many factors—our earthly father, the type of parenting we received growing up, and the wounds we received as a child. Even today I still long for that day where my father will give me a call and tell me that he loved me. But thank God that He has helped me see beyond this and look unto Him as the perfect Father who loves unconditionally, and I can rest in his love.
2.You are my beloved son and I am well pleased with you!
If we do not receive words of validation and emotional love from our earthly fathers and our Heavenly Father, we will often seek that validation through our achievements like sex, romance novels, shopping, and any number of pleasure-focused activities. We will struggle with uncertainty in our core and will be ruled by fears and the opinions of others, hoping for someone to notice us.
One of the things plaguing our generation is people trying to figure out who they are, lost is gender identity, trapped by the performance spirit trying to earn the rights to be called sons and daughters. In my own experience I tried earning my place in the family through my studies, I made sure that I passed with flying colours so that I could hear my Dad saying I am pleased with you. When I went to University I failed for the first time and I struggled to reconcile that failure, I took it as a failure to please my Dad, and I felt I had lost my spot in the family as a son.
Little did I know I had become a slave to performance and self sufficiency and with that came a prison. If I could prove my worth and make it on my own all would be well but it was not. I ran to ministry for validation and to the woman for comfort. This combination no matter how hard I tried never worked because the only validation I had was when I was in ministry and I actually went through almost a 10 year period of uncertainty, rejection by Pastors and chaos in ministry. If I wasn’t in ministry there was no validation, only fear of rejection.
The story of Jesus was my turning point, when He was baptized a voice came from heaven saying You are beloved Son in whom I am well pleased! What is amazing with this passage is that Jesus had not started his ministry, had not performed any miracle nor healed anybody, But God was pleased with him. This set me free, I knew that I was God’s beloved son irrespective of any credentials and achievements.
3. I am disappointed with what you did, but not with you!
For years I struggled with the spirit of rejection, as teenagers growing up, we do many things that are not proper and we rebel at our parents which sparks up conflicts. My mother’s parenting strategy was simple, you mess up she beats you up and gets over it, but my father would just give you a silent treatment, you weren’t sure whether he had forgiven you or you will pay for your sins later. This obviously made me believe a lie that he was disappointed with me rather than what I have done. As I grow up in the faith I noticed that I struggled with the same thing, reconciling my disappointments with God.
Whenever I failed I felt like God was angry at me because I did something wrong or I did not do something he expected. Every time I struggled with a certain area of my life I would immediately attribute it to myself, maybe something is wrong with me or God is not happy with me, why is He giving me a silent treatment? Why is God silent at the time I need Him the most?
The first example of a spirit of rejection operating in the Bible was in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. When Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord, God rejected Cain’s offering. The reason was that Cain brought his offering out of duty, but Abel offered his from his heart. God judged Cain’s motive and rejected his offering. However, God did not reject Cain as a person. It was here that the spirit of rejection began to influence Cain and he believed the lie that God did not love him and had rejected him.
“Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’”4
God tried to warn Cain that what he was doing was not pleasing, but Cain believed that God was rejecting him personally, and he got angry. This led to bitterness toward God and envy and jealousy toward his brother. This root of bitterness grew to murder. God warned Cain that “sin lies at the door.” Cain sinned by believing a lie about not being accepted by God. Shame (his countenance fell) tells us that WE are not acceptable; guilt says we did something wrong and need to repent, but we are still accepted by God.
For many of us the Christian life has been more about avoiding sin, performing, and judgment than about knowing that God deeply loves us despite our successes or failures. He loves us no matter what our performance has been. I state this not to give license to sin, but to recognize that the central character trait of God is love, not judgment. God only gave two primary directives in the Old Testament and repeats them in the New Testament: “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”5 You will fulfill all other things by fulfilling this command. In order for that to be a reality, you must believe you are loved and you must love yourself. You cannot love God or others if you don’t believe you are loved and you don’t love yourself. We love in response to perceived love. We become vulnerable enough to be loved. Yet from the beginning, humans rejected this in favor of what they perceived to be freedom. This resulted in being separated from the intimacy of our Heavenly Father.
God created us foremost for relationship and second for mission. He desires our companionship. His heart longs to connect with our heart. He reveals this in one of my favorite passages from Jeremiah 9:23-24: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
After screaming out at God, “why did you abandon me?” I finally heard his voice. “I have been here all along.” I had accepted Christ 10 years earlier but continued to wrestle with trusting him and trusting that his heart towards me was good. I could only relate to him as I related to my earthly Father. You’re on your own; figure it out with nothing but silence and absence.
I now share my story at men’s weekends/ Camps, and whenever others mention their stories, like “Even though I grew up in a home, I still feel like I am literally an orphan”. These words still bring tears to my eyes and we would pray for one another and break agreements with shame and rejection. The good thing is that now every day and night, I am awakened to the truth that God say to me, “You are my son, I love you and I’m proud of you.”
To be continued……………
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