No, that's not a typo. Since Father's Day is approaching, I thought it might be appropriate to discuss fathers. Two of my recently written novels center around the theme of fathers. I didn't really realize that until I started thinking about this post. Since I grew up without a father, it's interesting how God put this topic in my heart in a big way. Both Conundrum and Intended for Harm are hugely about the experience of having or not having a father in one's life. Yet, the truth is, growing up, I hardly ever thought about it. Not having a father around was very normal for me. When I went to my friends' houses, I rarely saw their fathers, who were either away at work or sequestered in a quiet room in the house far from the noisy kids. So fathers, to me, were fairly nebulous, absent figures.
In earlier posts, I talked about how God gave me the assignment to write Conundrum--which is nearly an autobiography about my father's mysterious death in 1961. To me, it's an unsolved mystery, and although I even researched into it and visited my uncle, whom I hadn't seen since I was ten, I learned nothing that could shed light on how he had died. (You'll have to read the book to see how strange the circumstances were.) But throughout the book, my protagonist, Lisa, explores feelings foreign to her--what having a dad must be like, and what she missed out on. By the end of the book, she comes to feel she finally knows much about this man, but in my life, I draw a big blank.
Which leads me to my latest book: Intended for Harm. I had thought all I was doing was telling a modern-day story of Joseph from the Bible. I had planned to explore the effects of merged marriages and favoritism and abandonment. But God kept pulling me to pay attention to something else. And that was the role of Jacob as a father, in light of his mistreatment by his own father, Isaac. And all this comes front and center in the book as Jacob (Jake) cannot fathom the concept of a father God who cares about him.
I spoke to many who had been raised by absent, abusive, or mean fathers. I began to learn that many people, men especially, have a very hard time accepting God as a father because their own father represents a negative figure. When I talked to a good friend about how she could always be so trusting and positive that God loved her so much and cared about her life, she told me she was raised by an amazing father--one who loved, accepted, and encouraged her throughout her childhood. Transferring that concept over to our heavenly Father was no problem for her. Her trust comes naturally. but it doesn't for many of us. All I had was a critical mother who betrayed and emotionally battered me and my children. She was not a father figure, but she was a parental figure, and so I found that much of my insecurity and sense of unworthiness in God's sight came from her mistreatment of me.
If you were raised by a loving father, give thanks. Tell him how much you love him, and realize he is precious. I wish I had a father I could say those things to. You, in essence, have a "father along" as you journey farther along life's path, which is a sweet gift. Now, at this time in my life, I feel the absence of a father more than I did as a child. I do believe I will see my real father in the next world, as I understand he accepted Jesus right before he died of leukemia, which in itself is an amazing story (for a very devout Jew in hospice in a Catholic hospital). I learned a lot through this exploration of fathers and God as Father. I hope that the deep, troubled feelings my characters process as they deal with their fathers or lack thereof will bring encouragement, enlightenment, and gratitude for the best father in the universe--our Creator and Father of the celestial lights.
Happy Father's Day!