I was traveling down I-4 the other day, which some have termed the original Highway to Hell, and I looked up and saw the above message scrawled across the sky. Naturally I posted it on my Facebook wall. One of my friends wrote back that he hoped I had not taken it literally as I was traveling at speeds of 60-70 mph. At any rate, the Holy Smoke writer gave me cause to pause and realize that this is a direction we all must take on a daily basis. Every day as the world and the enemy of our soul seeks to throw us off course, we gotta grab the wheel and turn our hearts and minds back on course.
The airplane reminded me of the secret nickname my father had for me as a boy. My father and I were never close. My brother was molested when he was 13 and I was 6. This event took my dad’s eyes off of me and put them on my brother. In a sense I was forced to go through some key developmental years without the emotional connection with my father. It seemed the only thing my dad was interested in teaching me was about church. I hated church, so this further weakened our relationship. My dad was so focused on my brother for a few reasons. After my brother’s molestation, he began acting out in behavioral and sexual ways. At one point he told me he began having sex with girls to prove to himself that he wasn’t gay. Since my brother was always in trouble, my father was constantly focused on him. I was a good kid, so my father believed that I didn’t need a lot of maintenance. His nickname for me was “The Auto Pilot Kid”. I never knew this. I simply thought my father loved my brother, more than he loved me. My father would discipline me more strictly than he did my brother. This was my father’s way of keeping me from ending up like my brother, but it further widened the gap between us. I felt targeted by my dad. My father was also hands off with me, because I had an overbearing mother. He told me later in life that he wanted to do stuff with me, but he didn’t want to argue and try to wrestle me away from my mom. He didn’t know that I wanted to hang out with him. He said I seemed happier with my mom. It was also easier to let her have her way. I remember when he told me this that my exact thought was that “I was a sacrifice on the altar of my dad’s sanity.” If he gave me up, his life with his wife was easier. That is still an image that troubles me.
As my father and brother seemed to me to have a greater relationship than my father and I did, it killed me emotionally. If I couldn’t have a relationship with dad, then I didn’t want one. Or at least that is what I made myself believe. They call this defensive detachment. It was then my goal to sabotage the relationship between my father and my brother. I pointed out every mistake my brother made. I tried to make my father feel bad for loving him more. I had this terrible, growing hatred for my father. I tried to say mean things and make fun of him every chance I got.
My mom didn’t help with our relationship. She knew I needed a father influence in my life, so oftentimes she would push me to relate with him. More often than not though, she would talk about him behind his back. Bad mouth him to my brother and I and take me and move to her mother’s house for weeks at a time when they would fight. One time on vacation she got so mad at dad that she waited for him to get out and ask for directions and she climbed into the drivers seat, drove off and left him two states away. My mom always defied my dad’s authority in my life. I never respected him, one, because she didn’t and two because I felt if he didn’t love me then I didn’t owe him anything.
I spent many years establishing a life on my own without any relationship with my dad. So years later when he tried to insert himself into my life, I was like, “Who are you? and Why are you bothering me?” That was met with resistance on his part. When my brother moved out, my father could focus on me. He was more of a disciplinarian than a father to me. I had grown up with him in the house, but not in my life. I hated him. I hated his God. I hated religion. I distanced myself from every man in my life for many reasons. By doing that, I took myself out of the arena of manhood. There was no one to teach me how to become a man. No one to model my life after.
My absent father wound led to the development of homosexual desires in my life. I grew up with men, but we are created by God to need men as men. After leaving home, I spent the next ten years of my life looking for the acceptance and love of men, because of the deficits of my childhood. The only problem is that those relationships were a mixture of emotional neediness and rampant sexuality. I conducted a futile search for a father and a brother and a friend in a group of men who had been wounded as deeply as me.
It wasn’t until ten years later that God led me to a male friend who loved me right where I was. He used that friendship to walk me out of homosexuality and back into a relationship with my father. My father has always been emotionally dependent on my brother, but there was more that God wanted to teach me through my father. My father and I have a good relationship these days. It could always use work. As I work on it, my healing grows.
I was able to talk to my father one night about my childhood. He assured me that he loved me as much as he loved my brother. He didn’t make excuses for his behavior, but he did apologize and ask for forgiveness. I lost so many years with my dad, by believing the lies of the enemy. Don’t do this my friends. Let God in to your heart to dispel the lies of the enemy.