I will be your father figure put your tiny hand in mine
I will be the one who loves you til the end of time

“Father Figure”
George Michael

It only took me a month to write a Father’s Day post. Not bad.

Father’s Day can be a daunting holiday for those of us who grew up without fathers. It’s a reminder of what we never had and never will have.

My lack of a father had a big impact on my view of my religion and spirituality. We tend to anthropomorphize our gods based on our own experiences. Growing up in the Christian faith, I was often presented a god that was a loving father figure. It’s hard to imagine a god as a loving father figure when you have no context for that imagery.

That’s not to say that I didn’t try to imagine the perfect dad. And I was always looking for that male parental figure. I would occasionally find one that would fit for a while, but they were always just temporary. Eventually, through physical or emotional distance, I would lose that person and be orphaned again.

There were some who would encourage me to fill that void with god, but it’s not that simplistic. Even though I could imagine how I would want the ideal dad to talk, act, and be, there is something about having a manifestation of that to hold onto. No matter how much I imagine a father-like god, the Holy Other is still out there. It’s not something physical or tangible. It’s not something I can call on the phone or really share my life with in a meaningful way and receive response in return.

As I have grown in my spirituality, I have learned that it does fill a void, but it can’t replace the things we need in this life. The Universe is beyond comprehension and understanding, and trying to make it fit in a little box does it a huge disservice. On the flip side, trying to fill a hole in our experiential lives with something spiritual doesn’t relieve the pain of that loss. We can lean on our Higher Being to help us recover from and heal the pain. But we can’t look to the spiritual to fill a need that is physical.

While I have learned a lot of coping skills to help deal with the loss of something that never was, I realize that there is an emptiness that will always be a part of me. I may not feel it as acutely, and it may only rear its ugly head a couple of times a year, but it will always be there. I can look to my spirituality to help me survive it, but it cannot replace what never was. It wasn’t meant to, and it’s too big to serve in that capacity.

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