Who was it that called you ‘our’ when you were a boy?
Who was it that held you steady as you pedalled your first bike? That told you that he was proud of you before perhaps you even knew what the word fully meant? Who saw you grow up and form in each stage of your development, guiding you and teaching you as you went?
Who was it that taught you about the world? About who you were in it, how to navigate your way through it, who God is, what he thinks of you, and what he says about you?...
In my life growing up there was no one to teach me about the majority of these things. I had both a father and a stepfather but sadly I grew up without a real Dad.
In primary school I remember going to road safety school where most of the boys in my class were riding two wheelers, and a lot of the girls were riding three wheelers.
I tried my best to look like the other boys by attempting to ride a two-wheeler although I knew I couldn’t. After some major wobbles and near stacks I had to ask the instructor for a three-wheeler and joined the girls riding around the track on my trike. When the other boys rode past and looked at me, I just wanted to shrink away and disappear and felt this deep sense of shame.
The sad fact was that no one had ever taught me how to ride a bike. Over time I eventually had to teach myself.
I had to teach myself a lot of other life lessons as well. But this was an oxymoron—I wasn’t teaching myself because teaching means an imparting of knowledge from one to another. I wasn’t imparting anything to myself except lessons learnt through trial and error—it was me ‘getting by’ through experimentation and sadly in life this is how many of us learn to live.
Unfortunately this is a result of the absence of God’s plan for development in us through the out-workings of a broken humanity. Sadly this causes us to not grow and develop into all God has ordained for us to be while here on earth. But we can head in that direction if we just open our hearts and our minds.
I’m currently a second year counselling student and have been learning how the male’s relationship to his father is the most instrumental relationship to his proper development as a human being and man. This is similar for women – although not as strong. I am only now beginning to fully realize how much this has affected all aspects of my life and development as a man.
I’ve realized how much had been absent within my life and within myself, and how this affected all my growing up and navigating through life.
It led to a lot of pain, loneliness, addictions and various other coping mechanisms I’ve used to get by in life because in some areas I just didn’t have a clue!
“Where’s the good news though Tim?” I hear you say.
The first part of addressing any issue is realizing that there is one, or that something has gone awry. Gaining this knowledge about myself has both humbled me and caused me to have compassion on myself. My sad situations weren’t my fault as I had no real father figure.
Recently God has allowed me to see myself as that child.
I saw what I needed as a boy and saw that (as my adult self) I could have so easily given that child what he needed at the time. This broke me because these things weren’t hard to give. I knew this because I had been showing these kinds of things to the children I have worked with for my last ten years as a youth worker. But when I saw myself as this child it was just sad that there wasn’t a man around to give these things to him.
I then had true compassion for this boy and my heart for him broke. Through this raw, intimate state, healing started to take place. But healing doesn’t always feel good; sometimes it even feels like surgery.
This is an area of inner healing that we can all begin to let God open for us, and it is separate from the areas of hate, blame and bitterness. It is us looking on ourselves (even our child selves) through both our grown selves and God’s eyes, and seeing what we needed at any given point in which pain entered. We see what we needed at the time but may have never received and we let God’s compassion for that child seep through.
If any of these things plague you or any part of my story resounds with you or your journey of inner healing, then I pray God opens you up in a real, raw, broken and beautiful way. In this way his love will manifest through and to you, to the point of being able to truly love yourself as he does.
This place of healing is where the lost boy is found and where the journey to manhood can truly begin.
I’m still on this journey. If you’re experiencing a similar one, hopefully you are too.
Tim Everton lives near the beautiful Southern Coast of South Australia and is currently studying counselling full-time. In his off-time he pursues his new business venture Miniature Worlds Workshop where he and his partner teach others how to create their own mini worlds of wonder. He also loves the beach and seeking out his next café latté both in equal measure.
Tim Everton’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-everton.html