Our Heavenly Father
I can remember from my early childhood up to just a few years ago that I struggled always to get the approval of my superiors, my bosses, and all those who were old enough to be my parents. It was an obsession with me. This compulsion drove me to be perfect, to over achieve in whatever I put my mind to do. I did over achieve. There were professions that I acquired in which I did not have the actual ability nor talent to hold, but the ‘over achieving’ filled the gap. In many ways, I was a success in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of those younger than I, but I never arrived at being a success in the eyes of those in authority, or at least they never communicated that to me in a way that I could sense and feel it. Eventually, my whole world crashed and disintegrated before me, leaving me completely devastated.
A few years ago, as a new person began to grow and develop in me, I had to find out why I was so obsessed with the desire to please those in authority. My search led me back to my father. He was a man who demanded perfection from himself. A man that dedicated his life so much to succeed in whatever he did, that he would work terrible hours struggling to acquire the goal. He did accomplish just that.
My parents, like most parents in the 1920-30’s, were poor, very poor. He never finished the fourth grade of school. He did not know how to drive as a young man because he could not afford a car. But one of his first jobs was to drive a delivery truck after he had convinced the boss that he was an expert at it. There were seven children who eventually arrived in our family. We moved from place to place, never staying more that 3 or 4 years in one home. Yet, each move was a move to a better part of town, a bigger home. He held three consecutive jobs for several years in order to pay the bills and to get ahead. He did not die a poor man. Realizing this I began to see from where part of my drive came.
However, there was another aspect present. I was the first born, a child that was weak and sickly. He had longed for a son that was athletic. That son arrived next. And even though he was far too busy working to attend anything that either of us sons did, he did show more favor and approval to the other. Such attention only drove me to struggle harder to get Dad’s approval. It never came.
Even when I too, like he, was over achieving in things, it was not the things that he approved. One day when I asked permission to become a member of a Catholic Religious Community, he replied that I might as well, because I could not earn a living working. That hurt. It drove me to prove him wrong, which I did, because I became the first and only one in our family to obtain a University Degree, and who worked in four different countries as a religious, missionary, professor, principal, counselor and evangelist. But, I too was a workaholic just like he, driven by a compulsion to please my father, the root of my unknown motivation. Yet, all this eventually collapsed. It was built on sand rather than solid rock, the rock of whom the real I was.
I mention all this because it seems to me that in each of us there is a need to feel and know the love, approval, encouragement and strength of our fathers. A father is necessary for the true and complete formation of a child, a person. How envious I was as an adult to see other fathers proudly proclaim to all the ‘big’ adults around their son/ daughter, that this was HIS son/daughter, and that he was proud of him/her. I could see the little one’s heart just beating with joy!
Little children seemed to always love me. When it had been some time since last seeing each other, they would come running and jump into my arms, and I would lift them up to my adult height, look at them eye to eye, hug them and kiss them. They loved it!
One day, a friend of mine, who was bigger than I, did the same thing to me when we met after such a long time. I remember feeling awkward being lifted off the ground and swung around, after all I was an adult, but at the same time I remember well the wonderful feeling of being lifted up, of being out of control, so to speak, of just being loved, and on his level! A wonderful experience. Then I knew why the little kids loved so much to be picked up, swung around, hugged and kissed tightly. It’s a minor type of ecstasy flowing from being accepted and loved for who you are, nothing more.
I also remember, while driving in a subdivision one day, seeing ahead of me a man repairing his mail box on the street. There were two young teenage boys standing on both sides of him. As I slowly passed them I noticed that the man, he may have been the father, he may not have been, it doesn’t matter, was deliberately and slowly using the hammer so that the boys could see clearly how and what he was doing. The faces of the boys showed that they were all eyes, completely absorbed in what they were learning. What a joy for that man! He was a true teacher. And what a joy for the boys! They were learning a most valuable lesson, the ability to be quiet and absorb!
Somewhere around that time I had become aware that in my life there was not the joy and ecstasy that existed in the life of married people who loved each other. I had dedicated my life to the Lord for more than 25 years, in a sense was “married” to Them, the Father, Jesus and Sophia, the Holy Spirit, and never once had I experienced a love relationship with them that would begin to come close to what a truly loving married couple experienced.
With that, I became very angry, and told my Heavenly Father that he had better produce or I was leaving. If my relationship with Him and the Others did not produce something more or equal to that which others experienced on the human level, then He did not exist, and I was not about to waste my life on Him.
It was that very night that he produced an overwhelming love experience. And after four consecutive nights He eventually said to me, “my son, this, that is overflowing in you like sweet honey, is my love for you. But it is not just something for you. This is what I want to share with all my sons and daughters.” Yes, there was no doubt now that He loved me! I was truly a son of His, a beloved son.
Then, there was the weekend where I was speaking to a large group of charismatics in Montreal. It was the third time to give that conference that weekend. Each time those attending had increased in numbers so much that we moved from a small classroom to eventually a large auditorium. It was in the latter that He shouted out loud through one of his children, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”Another precious moment in my life! My Father loves me! My Father supports me! My Father approves of what I am doing! What a joy, a healing joy within a wounded heart!
As an evangelist I felt called to go to the poor, those who lived in the inner city, and those who lived out in the hills of the country side. To do so meant that there would be practically no stipend on which to live. But since I knew that they rarely had an evangelist to visit them, and that I felt strongly that my Father was calling me to go to them, I went with only what I had on my back, so to speak. That ministry lasted three years, and I never lacked a penny. Three times, events were of such a nature that I could have been killed, but something miraculously prevented it.... my Father’s intervention.
On those trips I spent the first two nights talking about Him and his Fatherhood over us. And always on the second night, healing flowed to those present in ways that amazed me. People, like me, found themselves healed of their anger and hurt caused by their human fathers. Many had ceased to speak to them years before, and now found a love for their fathers that lead them back to them. All this happened in their lives as well as mine. The day had arrived when I too was able to hear my own human father defend me, and proclaim to others that I was his proud son. He died with both of us loving each other very much.
Yes, He is truly a Father! He loves us! He is compassionate and caring! He wants to have the ability to express all that! He wants to be a Dad for each of us! As you might have expected, He eventually did become Dad for me. Father was too formal a name. Only Dad could express the love that flowed between us in our relationship.
Is this not what Jesus shared with us concerning the Father, his Father? Search the Scriptures and observe how the Father related to Jesus, his son. He proclaimed to everyone present how proud He was of his son! He taught his son everything, and the son did only what his Father taught him. He took care of his son. He feed him and clothed him. But most of all he loved him beyond words. Is this not where we men learn how to be fathers? Is this not instinctively within each of us men?
Fatherhood must be found again! And in our Heavenly Father. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallow be thy Name! This is the Father that I know, and the joy of my life lies in the knowledge that such is not just for me. It is for all of us! Alleluia!