Boyhood is designed to be a time of exploration and wonder made safe by a good and loving father. If that was “well done” by your dad, you felt the delight of fathering – of knowing you are the beloved son. You were designed to hear it – you needed to hear it. The boy needs an assurance that he is loved, prized and beloved. Without it, he can feel abandoned.
The Prodigal Son, despite his desire to leave home and spend his inheritance, when he turned home he saw his father run to him and embrace him. It is a message of “You matter to me. I delight in you”.
We are wounded at this stage through experiences that tell him he is not the beloved son. It is a passive father – who doesn’t say “I love you”, doesn’t hug, doesn’t show affection and who checks out emotionally, relationally and spiritually. A young boy doesn’t know how to interpret that. He gathers from it, “It must be my fault” or “What I do is never really good enough”. Or it comes through a violent father – physical, verbal, sexual abuse. The boy learns he is not safe and not adored.
We see wounded men at 30-40-50 – they crave attention or the story always has to be about them – or – they can’t move confidently into their world. They are hesitant. Fearful. They seek love through chasing success, needing constant affirmation or fixating on sex. None of that ever works.
We see that the way a man’s heart was handled as a boy has shaped him as a man today.
Most of us did not get that effectively from our earthly Dads but we can receive it daily from God. Hearing that from God and knowing you are a son brings healing to your past and gives you this foundation you need so that you can move confidently into your world and into the masculine journey knowing you really are a son.
(From the book) “You are the son of a kind, strong, and engaged Father, a Father wise enough to guide you in the Way, generous enough to provide for your journey, offering to walk with you every step. This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to believe – really believe, down deep in our hearts, so that it changes us forever, changes the way we approach each day. Of the thousands of conversations I’ve had with men over the years, in a counseling office or around a campfire, and of all the personal struggles that fill the pages of my own journals, I believe this is the core issue of our shared dilemma as men. We just don’t believe it. Our core assumptions about the world boil down to this: we are on our own to make life work. We are not watched over. We are not cared for. When we are hit with a problem, we have to figure it out ourselves, or just take the hit. If anything good is going to come our way, we’re the ones who are going to have to arrange for it. Many of us have called upon God as Father, but, frankly, he doesn’t seem to have heard. We’re not sure why. Maybe we didn’t do it right. Maybe he’s about more important matters. Whatever the reason, our experience of this world has framed our approach to life. We believe we are fatherless.
The enemy’s one central purpose is this – to separate us from the Father. He uses neglect to whisper, “You see – no one cares. You’re not worth caring about.” He uses a sudden loss of innocence to whisper, “This is a dangerous world, and you are alone. You’ve been abandoned.” He uses assaults and abuses to scream at a boy, “This is all you are good for”. And in this way, he makes it nearly impossible for us to know what Jesus knew, makes it so very, very hard to come home to the Father’s heart toward us. The details of each story are unique to the boy, but the effect is always a wound in the soul, and with it separation from and suspicion of the Father. It’s been very effective.”