The fatherless generation
“Um, what’s with the snow on the ground?” I texted my mom and brother this morning.
“F*** winter,” my brother replied, and I couldn’t help but laugh. But as I looked at the snow, my perspective began to change. I know today is Halloween and it’s not supposed to snow yet, but I feel like God is doing something new in this season. He’s putting a blanket of snow, of white, a covering over us. He’s inviting us into greater healing and wholeness.
I hopped out of bed, filled with hope, but something changed between the time I ate my breakfast and brushed my teeth. All of a sudden, hope was no where to be found and this overwhelming sadness enveloped me. God seemed far away and everything felt heavy. “Where did this come from?” I wondered, letting myself fall into a downward spiral of negative thoughts.
I’ve been writing a book this season and I’ve been researching a lot about Millennials being a part of the Fatherless Generation. One in three Millennials grew up with a dad who was absent, abusive or emotionally detached. The effects are quite severe and the statistics are staggering.
You may know I lost my dad last year and the grieving process has been painful. His death was sudden and it rocked me to the core. If my dad were a statistic, he’d fall into the verbally abusive/emotionally detached type of father. I love him and I know he loved as much as he was loved, but I’m realizing that I missed out on some really important developmental growth. At the same time, God has been revealing to me who He is as Father — and it looks nothing like my earthly dad. I lost my earthly Father but I’m beginning to find my heavenly Father, and I’m excited to write about it.
To keep me inspired as I write, I also picked up a couple of authors’ books who share similar experiences with their dads. One of those is Donald Miller’s book Father Fiction. It opened my eyes to so much. In it, Don explains that without a father, a person left alone doesn’t always grow or get emotionally strong. He says that sometimes we need to be pushed. Fathers help push us into maturity. In relating it to spirituality, Don wrote, “Faith goes beyond the emotional. If you rely on your emotions, on how you feel, you are going to ride a roller coaster. As people who have faith in God, we can’t let emotions dictate. We have to trust what God says is true. Love acts out of faith, which rarely involves feelings. Love is action — it is deciding something is true and acting out of that belief.”
I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I feel sad, I feeeeel sad. It’s hard to come out of that feeling. So this morning, when everything darkened in my mind, I felt stuck. But when I read this passage, I realized three things. 1) Maybe I’m not as emotionally strong as I think I am and 2) Maybe I have been letting my feelings dictate my life and 3) Maybe God is inviting me into maturity. At the same time this revelation light bulb came to be, my phone began to buzz. It was my mentor Bob. I almost didn’t answer it, but at the last second, I picked up. “Hello,” I said.
“Hi Lauren, it’s Bob. Is this a good time?”
“Sure,” I replied.
“I just had a feeling you were feeling down so I thought I’d give you a call.”
My eyes welled up and the tears fell. “I’m a mess,” I told him, crying into the phone.
“I want you to remember how good you are, Lauren,” he said. “I’m here any time you need a pep talk. You often look at the past, but I’m here to give you a little push forward.” In the next fifteen minutes, Bob metaphorically lifted me up, wiped the dirt off my knees and helped me get back in the game.
As he spoke, tears continued to fall as I realized this was a divine set up. “God, now? You had him call right now. You had this guy, who is like a dad to me, call as I was reading a book about a guy with no dad?” I felt so seen and so known and so loved.
This is how God does it. One of the ways at least.
Yes, some of us don’t have dads. Yes, some of us don’t have moms. Yes, some of us have crappy parents. Yes, some of us don’t have parents at all. But God is inviting us to be a larger family. In this next season, there will be opportunities to be like a mom or like a dad to the people around you. Even if you’re 20 years old, there’s a teenager who needs you. If you’re 80, there’s a 60 year old who needs you. And if you’re the one without the mom or without the dad, there are moms and dads around you — you may just need to ask them for help.
There is talk about a billion soul harvest coming on the earth. A billion soul revival. What that means is that one-billion people are going to realize how loved they are by Jesus and they’re going to begin a relationship with him. And one of the ways God is going to do this, I believe, is through the adoption of sons and daughters. Not necessarily formal adoption (though that is beautiful), but by adopting the people around us into our day-to-day lives. Inviting them in. Letting them join what we’re already doing. So much isn’t taught, but it’s caught, and by letting people be around you, they’re going to catch the beauty and wisdom and all of the things they may not have gotten from a present parent.
Obviously, we live in a busy society, but I would bet if you asked God, he would put 1–2 men or women in your heart over the next few weeks. Maybe take them out for coffee or invite them into your home for dinner. Or give them a call to see how they’re doing. God will prompt your heart and just go with what you sense.
I am so excited to see what God is going to do in this next season. As we take risks and open up our lives, it’s going to be beautiful. I just know it.
And to Bob — words will never be able to express what it’s been like to have you as a “dad.” Thank you for filling in some of the gaps and for teaching me how to grow into maturity. I love you so much.