Father Against Father

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

As a father, I see this as my duty to our daughter. It is my responsibility to give her the knowledge, discipline and advice she needs to have a good life as well as a healthy, whole life.

In reflecting on how I was raised, I believe this is how my own father felt. Life was often hard in our house. As the child that was a “surprise” and much younger than my other siblings, I often felt alone. It didn’t help that my father would face medical issues when I was young that would change the dynamics of his world forever. With the challenges and woundings my father dealt with, I suffered much, and I don’t think he in any way rose to the challenge above.

There was no open communication in my house. I was struggling in many ways to understand who I was and who I was created to be. I sat in church, but didn’t understand God or what His plan for my life was to be. I was expected to be what my parents wanted me to be. I wanted to make my parents happy and not create waves, but I was confused about many things.

There was very little nurturing in my home. I don’t remember hugs or being told that I was loved. I am not saying it never happened, it just happened so sparingly that I was desperate for affection. I began at some point in my teens to look for some kind of emotional connection, but often found nothing but sadness and despair as it always seemed like I was not enough or couldn’t measure up to the expectations placed on me.

Sadly, during my high school years, I excelled at many things but couldn’t feel any sense of accomplishment. I wasn’t happy even though I was in the top of my class academically. I was the starting tight end of the varsity football team and pursued many other extra-curricular activities but still felt such a void inside.

I had rarely dated or pursued girls at my school. My dad had made it firmly clear that girls were not my priority. However, during the summer days leading into my senior year that all changed.

I met a girl, and tried to do and be everything the way I thought she wanted me to be. Against my father’s objections, we began to date.

I remember one night we went to the beach for a night out. It was a cool summer’s night, yet we heated up the car in lust-filled passion. On my 17th birthday, we had sex for the first time. It was not safe to talk about sex in my home. As messed up as this sounds, I thought sex was something I had to do as a man – like it was expected. This was a subject that was not safe to discuss with my dad. So sadly, I cared about having sex, not the girl it was with.

Whether she was “the one” or not was not relevant… I was enjoying my manhood. That was until one day, she confessed she was pregnant. Instantly, waves of fear washed over me. What was I going to do? What would my father do to me? What was going to happen to my future and her future? I was feeling alone and desired to simply cover up the problem.

This was a problem no teenager should have to deal with. Here I was trapped in one tense moment in life where people have two choices – rely on our own judgements or ask for help.

Unfortunately, I had a father that I did not trust for many reasons. He did not condone me dating, much less the sex he did not know I was having. Riddled in fear and shame, I decided I had to rely on my own decision, which was to cover up my mess. I didn’t talk about this with anyone.

I felt trapped because I didn’t want the baby, but I didn’t necessarily believe in abortion either. But I had no one to confide in. No one was there to help advise me. Therefore when she announced that she wanted to have an abortion, I didn’t fight her choice. I didn’t stand up for what I believed, nor did I support her at all. I left her alone to make this enormous decision, and I left her to deal with this all on her own.

Although I gave her the money, I had other priorities during the football season. On a Friday afternoon, my baby died while I played a high school football game. See I couldn’t miss practice or a game for fear of dad finding out. So I dumped all of this on her and felt relief that she took care of the problem. I only wanted to save my own skin as I was riddled in fear.

I have spent a large portion of my life filled with guilt and shame. When my wife and I struggled to have a baby and suffered through a bunch of miscarriages, I truly believed that this was my punishment for the dirty secret hidden in my past.

There’s lots of freedom that has had to come from this painful time in my life, but one lie that I believed was that because of the relationship I had with my dad, I had no authority to turn to in my distress. I felt lost and alone.

I had been in church all my life, but I will admit that I had let the relationship with my earthly dad define how I saw God the Father. I didn’t see him as loving, but I saw him as the same unloving distant, punishing dad. But sadly that was just not true.

I would hit the age of 40 before I would finally discover the truth… the truth explained in 2 Corinthians 1:3. God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also my Father… is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

I am still to this day wrapping my head around the unconditional love God the Father has for me. As I grew up thinking that my dad’s love was conditional on so many things.

But honestly, I’ve had a rough time even accepting that I have two fathers. I have an earthly father, whose job it was to guide me and point the way for me to accept and get to know who I am in Christ as well as a heavenly Father who comforts me, consoles me, protects me, provides for me and loves me no matter what.

I wish I had understood at 17 years old, that if my earthly father was not going to or able to guide me, my heavenly Father could and would do it. For Jesus said, “… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” (John 14:23 KJV).

I wasn’t getting what I needed at home. I didn’t receive what I needed from God sitting in the pews of my Catholic church, nor did I get the emotional fulfillment I desired from the girl I was sleeping with. But I was getting filled with a lot of lies… lies I believed because there was no one else showing me a better way. Sadly Satan devoured my relationship with my father, my virginity, my child and me. Why? Because the devil “…was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not the truth, because there is no truth in him…He is a liar, and the father of it,” (John 8:44 KJV).

See Satan is the father of lies, and even though I felt I followed no father at all, I listened to, believed and sadly followed the father of lies. I was convinced in my sin that it was easier not to deal with the pain in my home, to make my own poor choices, to lie, cover it up and deflect when those choices bit me. I learned at a young age that I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life or my choices. It would be costly to tell the truth and deal with an issue, so I grew to be passive aggressive and manipulative. This way of living would have devastating effects – costing me one marriage and nearly costing me my second. Luckily, I was able to seek help and get some much-needed freedom to save the family I now hold so dear.

As I dedicated time to build a stronger relationship with God, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am thankful to have such a forgiving, loving Father who has given me the grace and mercy necessary to lay down my past and reshape my future.

I didn’t start out being a good father to the one child I have. I used to wonder what will my daughter think of me when she reflects on Proverbs 22:6 and compare it to the way I loved her. I knew I cared for my child but wasn’t sure I really loved her or not those first several years. I wasted time scared I was doing everything wrong or living in the anxiety that I’d end up like my dad.

God is so faithful and mighty to save. I’ve moved past the past. I’ve forgiven my dad, myself and released my guilt and shame. I am still working on letting go of the passivity by actively seeking to be present and involved with my daughter. I’ve learned to love unconditionally using God as my model as well as to be the kind of parent that will allow my daughter to thrive in who God created her to be. I imagine this to be the way my dad had wanted to parent me.

I can’t look backward as God encourages us to move forward. The past is gone. I’ve done all I can to repent and let go of the painful parts of my past that set me up for failure. But, t9here’s still one desire that remains for me: I look forward to the day I hold the hand of the child I loved, yet never met.

 

Next steps
Did you struggle in your childhood in a dysfunctional relationship with one or both of your parents? Difficult relationships with parents can cause emotional wounds that can hinder our ability to develop a healthy identity and cause us to view God in ways that conflict with His true nature and character. If you struggle to feel a sense of belonging, have difficulty in making decisions or taking initiative, have a rough time receiving love or even compliments from others, or feel rejected often, maybe its time for you to pray and consider doing the following:

  • Recognize and repent of any bitterness, grudges, resentments, anger or hatred towards one or both of your parents.
  • Ask God for his forgiveness and accept His forgiveness.
  • Invite Him to heal the hurts and wounds of your past and be open to receiving the unconditional love your Father has for you.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to begin to speak to you about your identity in Christ.
  • Give thanks and praise for the work God is doing and will continue to do in your heart.
  • Begin learning how to take the destructive thoughts captive and form new thoughts about God in order to replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth.
  • Enjoy the freedom that comes from soaking in your true Father’s love.

Want to learn more about the Father’s love? Click here to listen to a powerful message from Senior Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and ministries.

 

About the guest author
Scott Slater grew up as the last of five children in a military family. Scott spent most of his formative years trying to understand his identity in God. Twice, he almost joined the priesthood, both from high school and college, but could not reconcile his deep desire for a family.

After 10 years of wandering through a failed marriage and broken relationships, Scott met his wife, Kimberly. With God by their side, they built a family despite many attacks on their marriage and the devastating loss of many unborn children. Through faith in Christ and the healing of his broken heart, Scott delights in the Word of God and enjoys delivering that message to those who open their hearts.

Scott has spent time as a men’s mentor and member of the alter team at Gateway Church. Scott resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with his beautiful wife, 6-year-old daughter and three rescued shelter dogs.

 

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It’s All His Fault

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“There’s no hope for my marriage, he’s never going to change.”

I’ve uttered that sentence a thousand times believing one massive lie… If he would change our marriage would be better, and I would be happy.

See I was a type A, want-what-I-want woman, who married at 35. I had many years of living alone to get set in my ways. Simple things like how he folded the hand towels drove me crazy. Why couldn’t he just do it the way I like it?

The man I dated was romantic, catered to me and cared about what I wanted. He swept me off my feet, and I fell deeply in love. But once married, things quickly changed.

A month into our marriage, Scott sunk into a depression and became a man I didn’t recognize. His wounds and dysfunctional coping patterns reared up, and the selfless man I dated was now a stranger – self-centered, withdrawn and cruel.

We started therapy, and life got better for a while. But several miscarriages, fertility issues and added pressure took our marriage from bad to worse.

Miserable, I felt abandoned. Scott declared regularly, “I don’t care about you.” I was certain he didn’t love me. I adored the man I dated but didn’t care for the stranger sleeping beside me. Deep down I knew my marriage was a mistake.

Many lies filtered through my mind. “I’d be better off alone.” “He’s never going to meet my needs.” These caused me to stop seeing the man God created Scott to be. I zeroed in on ways he didn’t measure up. All I saw was how he let me down. It was all his fault.

As a result I grew volatile. In righteous anger I’d sucker punch him verbally. I tore him to shreds with cruel words, but believed I was not the problem. He needed to change – not me!

In 2009, I sternly announced, “I want a separation.” I couldn’t take another second of Scott’s issues and his unwillingness to change. I had a growing baby in my belly and was convinced we’d be better off without Scott.

At the same time a friend raved about the book Love and Respect. I read it and implemented the principles the author suggested.

For months, I affirmed Scott. I never raised my voice. I sought forgiveness for what he said I did wrong. I truly gave this 100% effort, but Scott was blind to my effort. I wasn’t safe. He didn’t trust me. He held grudges and disconnected even though I was doing my best to connect.

As a result, anger turned to rage. Respect went out with the trash, and I flew off the handle. I wanted him to suffer the way I was suffering. I was belligerent and full of malice. I hated him.

In therapy, a counselor steered me in the wrong direction. “Get over your judgment about divorce and stop seeing marriage as a covenant,” she explained. “Scott broke the marriage contract, and you have every reason to leave.”

She said, “God would not want you to be this unhappy.” And with that, I planned my exit strategy, but God had other plans.

Tensions were thick, and we walked around on eggshells. I was miserable, but when I prayed asking if I could leave, I’d hear, “not yet.” That obviously made me mad. He wasn’t fixing my marriage!

There was no intimacy. We talked of superficial things like “what’s for dinner?”

The disconnection kept things peaceful, but also kept us broken. We no longer hugged or kissed, and I swore the lack of intimacy was his fault. Our marriage would ebb and flow between disconnected peace and world war. We were both battered, but neither had the strength to leave.

But shortly after our fifth anniversary, Scott changed. He confessed admitting he didn’t care the first years of our marriage, but now he did. He’d attempt to hold my hand, and I’d pull away. I deemed him a liar, and knew we’d never make it our sixth anniversary, so why bother?

However, with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and six became seven. Seven became eight. We had serious problems, but Scott was trying

In 2013, God got a hold of me after I was consumed by unloving spirits. I hated my life and my marriage… filled with bitterness and accusation. I only saw what was wrong when God commanded, “I want you to affirm your husband 10 times a day.”

My first thought was “never gonna happen!” Convinced he didn’t love me – I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, but God armed me with strength and power (2 Sam. 22:33). I obeyed.

I struggled to think of two positives. “Thank you for going to work and paying bills.” But slowly, the effort paid off, and my perspective shifted. He’s funny, smart and witty. He’s an incredible dad. Kind. Sensitive. He’s a servant. He desired me to be happy.

The problem was my critical nature, need to have my way and anger were out of control. I felt I had a right to be mad and wore the victim hat proudly, until one day I took a good look in the mirror and realized:

• I was angry with myself – not Scott or God.
• I didn’t hate Scott. I hated myself.
• I needed help.
• I had to change. I realized for the first time – it wasn’t all his fault.

In 2014, I walked into Son Rise Church and Ministries, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ came alive in my life. I focused on ridding the matriarchal spirit and dealing with my junk through repentance and deliverance. Strongholds were replaced with truth. My happiness no longer depended on what Scott did or didn’t do. The major revelation was God is my helper, and Lord Jehovah sustains my soul (Psalm 54:4), not Scott.

I fixed my eyes on God and nothing else. I separated myself from sin and laid the worst parts of myself before Jesus Christ. I took responsibility for what I had done in the marriage. I began to take my thought captive. I sought forgiveness and let the Holy Spirit fill my wounded soul.

My life looked like Psalm 37:40 – the LORD shall help me, and deliver me: He shall deliver me from the wicked, and save me, because I trust in him.

I did trust God, and in May 2015, I experienced a radical encounter while attending healing training. As I felt horrible chest pain I heard, “I’ve fixed your heart. It’s no longer broken.” The pain faded into an unspeakable joy and peace I had never known before. I was touched by God and radically changed.

I forgave Scott, God and myself. I left the past behind and desired to start fresh. I knew I only had control over how I reacted to my spouse. I could pray for him but had no power change him. But even more I ditched all expectations of change, as they were the result of assumptions, judgments and accusations that were nothing more than sin.

The truth was simple: I can’t depend on Scott to meet my needs because that job belonged to God. I can be happy in my circumstances no matter what Scott brought to the table.

I gave Scott space to adjust to his new wife. This wasn’t an easy process. My past behaviors were thrown in my face, as I had not been forgiven. He wasn’t buying that I had been radically transformed. But as days turned to weeks, weeks turned into months, it became clear I was different.

Peace washed through our home for the first time. While I’m not perfect and can fall into old patterns, I quickly recognize what’s happening and shift my behavior. I changed and as a result, my marriage improved.

No matter what Scott was or wasn’t doing, I refused to make a laundry list of shortcomings. I refused to engage when he picked a fight, and I prayed my marriage would continue to improve.

And God was faithful as Scott realized he needed help and started his own ministry. I was now safe, and Scott the room to focus on him. I stopped trying to be the priest of the home and allowed him to rise. I submitted.

Together we are on guard for the spirit of offense. We think before reacting out of our emotions. We give each other the benefit of doubt. We talk, laugh and enjoy life more. What’s disappeared? All outbursts and the need to punish were gone. We became partners – we were finally becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

Six months after my miraculous encounter I heard myself say three words I thought I’d never say again, “I love you.” And the thing is… I meant it.

What a testimony to God – we happily celebrated our 10th anniversary back in April. I never thought we’d make it, but with God all things are possible.

In Genesis 12:1 we learn God, who desires to lead us by the Holy Spirit, would like to lead us in to many things… one of them being a happy covenant relationship with our spouse.

I hate the fact that the enemy convinces Christians that divorce is the only option. We have a marriage crisis in our country because too many believe the enemy’s lies instead of adhering to God’s truth.

Marriage is a divine snapshot of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one,” (Mark 10:7-8).

I feel like we finally ditched the contract mentality and understood for the first time the marriage covenant is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.

My marriage is a testimony to the power of the Word of God being applied. Scott is learning to lay down his life in sacrificial love and protection. And I am learning to shed the type A personality – willing to submit to his leadership. I also have seen the fruit that comes from building up a man rather than tearing him down with critical words and unrealistic expectations.

Today I love Scott for the man he is and the man God made him to be. I no longer long for the man that courted me but enjoy the one that walks through the door at night. Divorce is no longer a word in my vocabulary.

A friend, we have known for years, recently came to the house. As we were leaving, I said “Bye babe” to Scott. Stunned she exclaimed, “That’s the first time I’ve heard you speak endearingly to him and about him. You were always so cold in the past.”

And with that, God whispered, “Good job, faithful servant. I’m proud of you.” Now I look in the mirror and like whom I see and that fills my heart with so much joy.

Prayer:
If you are struggling in your marriage, I urge you to pray this out loud:

Father God, I thank you that you have only good things planned for my marriage. I pray all of Satan’s strongholds will be broken, and my marriage will be saved. Help me Father speak life and not death over my spouse. I pray for restoration and not separation. I pray you draw us to connect and not withdraw. Father, I thank you for reminding me to fix my eyes on you and not on my current circumstances. I thank Jesus Christ for restoring the blessing of Abraham in our lives, and I am grateful this blessing included covenant relationships. Father please help both of us have faith that this blessing is a gift… ready to receive right now I pray the accuser be silenced, all expectations town down, and all bitterness disappears now in might name of Jesus. Renew my love and help me to see all the amazing qualities my spouse has. I lift up my marriage so it can flourish and not flounder in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.

Questions to ponder:
1.
Are you harboring resentment, bitterness and refuse to forgive your spouse? If so, repent and ask the Holy Spirit help you in this area.

2. What negativity is the enemy speaking over your marriage? Are you convinced things would improve if your spouse changed? If so, get with God and let him lead you into the truth.

3. What areas of weakness do you need to work on that could help improve your marriage?

4. Are speaking life or death into your marriage? Your words matter! Start praising your partner and speaking life into your marriage by focusing on the good instead of the bad.

Additional resources:
For further information on the Matriarchal and Patriarchal Passive/Control profiles, visit http://sonrisechurchandministries.sermon.net/main/main/8360324 and listen to the great teaching by Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and Ministries.