Once a month Judy and I go to a prayer meeting. The folks who attend are all interested in the healing ministry, which would include inner healing. As Connie, the presenter was sharing about inner healing of family wounds, I suddenly became aware of my father, exposing as sense of inner loneliness and emptiness.
The thought came to me, “my Dad left me orphaned as a boy.” I thought that I had dealt with most of the wounds in my soul regarding my Dad. A wound, which I was unaware of, was nowbeing exposed that had laid dormant in my soul. Let me give you fair warning men. Some of the brokenness you experience goes deep when it comes to a “distant” father.
My father had his own abandonment issues. I identify with Paul Auster, when he writes about wanting his father’s attention. “It was not that I felt he disliked me. It was just that he seemed distracted, unable to look in my direction. And more the anything, I wanted him to take notice of me.” I know now that my father was not able or capable of reaching me at a soulful level.
At my age, I have been going through some new and deeper times of loneliness. Even though I have the most understanding and loving wife, I have struggled with loneliness. It is hard to admit my sense of feeling abandoned.
My experience at the prayer meeting brought it all to the surface. My father himself struggled with loneliness. I sensed that when I visited him in his last days in a nursing home. Now that I am older and in a sense, “set apart” because of age, I lament the feeling of loneliness. Could it be true, when Auster observes, “You do not stop hungering for your father’s love even after you are grown up.”
I have been processing these feeling of loneliness, due to my sense of being abandoned by my father. I am reminded of Thomas Keating’s astute observation: “God simply moves downstairs, so to speak, and waits for us to come and join him.” So what am I doing to meet God “downstairs.”
First and foremost, I confess and affirm that I have not been abandoned by my heavenly Father. Jesus tells us, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18) Jesus has come to bring me home. He knows the way home for me and my loneliness.
Secondly, my experience was exposing a deep wound that I never realized was present in my story. I have to process the wound. Without feelings of self-pity, I ask the Lord for guidance, so that I might be specific in praying through this wound. It has not been easy – the wound goes deep.
Thirdly, I have in my wife, a competent spiritual guide, who can listen to my deepest thoughts and feelings, while giving me the clarity I need to heal the wound.
Finally, when these feelings of loneliness and abandonment surface, I have a place to bring them. I lift them up, and take them to Jesus, asking him for for three things: 1) the grace to surrender such deep feelings to him, 2) strength to want to grow in my relationship to Jesus and 3) the patience to allow him to do the work within me soul.