Pain: The Great Teacher

I wrote this on June 15th, 2014 whilst sitting in my room weeping. I did not know how to process my thoughts and feelings on this topic well, and after writing this I couldn’t find the guts to post it. I am not always great at communicating the nuances of my thoughts and emotions, so I ask any and all who would read this to have grace upon grace on me. I did not write this as a cold theologian, but as a weeping soul alone in my room. I have questioned the purpose in my publishing this, but now it seems more appropriate that I can look back on it with a more cautious eye. If my biological father reads this; we have already talked thoroughly, and I don’t mean to pour salt in the wounds but this is, in my opinion, necessary, though you know how I feel and care about you now, and there is no hatred or ill-will in my heart towards you. If my dad reads this; please remember that I, at many times, do not know how to express things to you. You know that I love and care about you, and that I have the utmost respect for many things you did do, but this does not change our struggles, whether past or continuing.

As I sit in my room not feeling well I cannot help but realize that I have a horrible tendency to refrain from writing when I need to the most. I do not write primarily for the simple cause of self-therapy, or for the therapeutic help of others; I endeavor to write honestly, humbly, for the purpose of glorifying God and encouraging His people the Gospel (of which I desperately need as well.) The problem usually comes in when I am going through some form of inner turmoil or pain; I do not desire to write in these times because I hate dealing with my problems, and I cannot write in these times without facing them. The Lord, however, seems to work most in my life and others through the process of turmoil. With that being said, I present to you my thoughts for the day.

I was extremely interested in the convergence of two events today; my local church’s (Frontline Downtown) sermon on God and the existence of evil and suffering, and Father’s Day. To some there may not even be an appearance of a connection; if that is you, then I pray you never know firsthand why there is a connection for so many of us. I see so many enjoying this day and I want to be happy for them, but it is indeed a challenge.

Now let me give a clarification; fatherhood is wonderful. It is an amazing picture of our Heavenly Father and His care for us as His adopted sons and daughters through the cross of Christ. But those of us who have fragmented, shattered, or absent relationships with our earthly fathers sometimes feel the salt in the wounds when we hear everyone congratulating each other with a common ‘Happy Father’s Day!’

How is this personally relevant? I have a father. He married my mother when I was two years old and has been with her ever since. So how does this topic even relate to me? In all honesty I feel like a crybaby due to the fact that many have a much, much worse experience than I do but that does not somehow minimize the pain I feel. I did not meet my biological father until I was sixteen; I am exceedingly glad that I did meet him, and that my father (my step-dad, the man who raised me) was man enough to be there and stay there, but this does not change some things.

Growing up either not knowing your biological father, or knowing that he checked out is permanently scarring in some sense. Even though I know my biological father now (and I love the guy, and we both love Jesus) this does not change the fact that his absence makes up a large part of who I am. The feelings of abandonment and rejection that come from such an experience never leave me; when they come, they point me to my horrible failings and lead me to ask things like ‘was I not good enough? Is it my fault?’ I am a grown man now and these feelings affect me almost every day.

My dad married my mother when I was two (I think), and in retrospect I see how much of a man he really was and how he did indeed love and care for me. As a child, however, it was exceedingly hard to see or understand that in the midst of everything else I was going through. He was young, married into fatherhood, and had a vastly different personality than me. I honestly don’t know his thoughts on this, but I think he had a tendency to show love in the form of hard-work whereas I had (and still do have, sometimes) a tendency to feel loved through words of affirmation along with time spent together. I do recall him spending time with me, and I know now that he worked to provide but as a child I could not understand this. I knew even when I was small that, though he was my dad, my original ‘dad’ wasn’t there and because of that, my foolish understanding, and our difference in personalities we had many times where we got along but we also had many, many arguments (like most people have with their dad I assume.) Our arguments were exacerbated, however, by the fact that for the general majority of my life, though there were very comforting exceptions, he was distant emotionally. I was taught by his actions and words that hard-work is necessary, how to throw a baseball, how to shoot a gun, etc. These are good things, but here is what I was not taught; how to live for the Lord, how to be a man, husband, or father in any fully meaningful way. I was never taught how to survive turmoil or tragedy from him, I was never taught what it meant to attempt to holistically care for another person. Maybe he just didn’t know, which is entirely possible. Though I picked up good things from him, and he was always physically there, his distance from me couldn’t have been any farther. I know every earthly father fails, and because of the Gospel I have all the grace and mercy on him and see the Lord’s work through all. This does not change the effects upon my soul, though.

When the Lord broke my stony heart with the Gospel and changed it into a heart of flesh, these struggles became more real to me. I realized that I had a yearning for fatherly care and love that I had not experienced. God had redeemed me, but how do I live? No man in the position to teach me in the manners of Godly manhood as a father had taught me anything of the sort. I had to figure these things out on my own. So with a foundation of rejection and abandonment, furthered by distance from the dad that raised me, generally speaking, I was (and still am, sometimes) distraught with the pain and anguish of my soul; though my experiences are not near as bad as others, I was in some sense bastardized in two different ways.

These struggles of my soul, however, were in one way (the most important of ways) made to be astonishingly beautiful when they became annexed to the Gospel, when my story became a part of His story. Because of my struggles I was able to see God the Father in such a beautiful and clear manner that my heart cannot help but explode in worship every single time I think about this topic. I simultaneously experience the grief, pain, and struggles of feeling rejected and abandoned by my biological father along with the emotional distance and lack of involvement of the father that raised me, while rejoicing that God the Father has shown me what it means to be a loving, caring father, and Christ has shown me what it is to be a man, yea, a husband, being that He is the only perfect Bridegroom.

So, I love my biological father as a friend, and my father as my father, truly; I simply recognize the effects of their failures on my life every single day. With the Gospel, though, these pangs have been used as one of the greatest teachers in my redemption and in showing me what it means to be a man; all praise to Christ alone, and someday I may be able to, albeit imperfectly, be a Christ-exalting and Spirit-led husband and father of the utmost care, compassion, truthfulness, and gentleness, Lord-willing.

Soli Deo Gloria
-Wesley Tyler Robinson

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