by Elaina Ayala
Fatherlessness. It has touched too many people. Do you want to see a person without a father? You really don’t need to look far. The statistics are painful to read.
For me, it was normal to grow up fatherless. The majority of my close friends did not have great father relationships. Their fathers were either on drugs, in-and-out of jail, playing house with other women and their kids, or just simply absent. My close friends and I became family. We congregated together because being together made us feel normal.
Growing up, I took pride in being a strong, independent woman. I would rehearse things like this on a daily basis: “If you want anything done right, do it yourself” and “You don’t need a man to make you happy”. If I’m being honest, as a teenager I saw most men as weak and easy to manipulate.
I became a Christian at 19 years old and began experiencing freedom and inner healing in many areas — but the ‘father area’? I was just fine. I never thought I was hurt in that area since I had never known what having a father was like. I figured that since nothing had been ripped away from me (like in the case of an ugly divorce), I was not missing anything. But deep down inside, and with my actions, I operated like an orphan. I handled my own stuff, I could make things happen, I hustled, and I had an uncanny read on people. I definitely didn’t want anyone’s help. I looked forward to holding my head high and acknowledging that “I did this by myself.” But underneath my savvy exterior, I felt anxious, victimized, insecure, rejected, inferior and afraid.
As a brand new Christian, my pastor and his wife became my spiritual parents. I’ll never forget the day when I was working my job at the sandwich shop and began feeling sick. I notified my boss that I needed to go home. She was not happy about that and began yelling at me and making disrespectful comments toward me. As I was leaving the restaurant, upset and shaking, my pastor happened to call me. I answered the phone and told him what was going on. He commanded me, “Do not leave that restaurant, I’m on my way!” Five minutes later, as I’m sitting in my car, I see my pastor zip into the parking lot in a flurry. He comes up to my car and says, “Get out of the car, were going in there together!” Yikes! I was so nervous and I hated confrontation. We went back into the sandwich shop, and man, did he give my boss a piece of his mind! She stood there speechless. He made it really clear to her, and everyone else in restaurant for that matter, that NO ONE gets to talk to me like that. He told me to hand her my work keys, and that was that. Together, we quit the job and he assumed responsibility over me… like a father. No one had ever stuck up for me like THAT. THAT is what fathers do — and THAT is what God our Father does for his kids (Psalm 68:5).
The orphan mentality best operates, actually thrives, when a person believes they have no Defender or Protector. When a fierce Defender is present, there is confidence, there is no fear of being victimized ‘for they know their Defender is strong’ (Proverbs 23:10-11). Fathers are God’s models of protection in the life of a child and they shape their identity (Isaiah 64:8).
Through godly fathers, children learn to trust and to be confident. It’s through God’s masterful design, that those same children are set up to eventually look to Him later in life and establish a personal relationship with Him. Godly fathers and mothers are established in the home to model the attributes of God. It’s God’s plan and His divine process of revealing Himself to His beloved children.
When God-established protectors are not in place, deception creeps in. This deception is set on stealing confidence, identity and purpose. The lie is planted in the subconscious: You are not protected; so build walls and protect yourself because no one else is looking out for you. It’s a thought, that once established in the mind, sabotages any real chance of meaningful relationships, and ultimately drives a wedge between us and our Heavenly Father.
But even in the deepest areas of pain and ruins, God’s love is sufficient and can break down the barriers of fear and create a new sense of Home — a family with fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters. These people are meant to point us to our Heavenly Father who has been reaching out to us all along. It’s our job to let them in, to let them love us and not project onto them the image of the pain we’ve suffered. God’s plan has been, and always will be, for you to call him Father.