Right off the bat, abusive dads create children who find it very difficult to intellectually believe in and experientially receive the Heavenly Father’s love. It’s actually quite a logical reaction: If God the Father is all-powerful and in control of everything (which He is), and if you were starved, beaten, sexually abused, mercilessly mocked, manipulated, or constantly controlled by your earthly father, then God the Father has to be ultimately responsible for your suffering, right? If this describes your situation, you will either want nothing to do with God, believe in Him in classic passive-aggressive fashion, or obey Him out of sheer fear and self-preservation (because you already know what happens when you don’t obey Dad). Let me give you the bottom line: Those of you with abusive fathers have a lot of work ahead of you before you can really experience the Father’s Heart. Not only must you do all the work in these chapters to heal your father wounds, but you also must do the work of processing your many hurts and traumas from the abuse. Make sure you read my later chapters on Childhood Victims to Adult Overcomers, Suffering and Restoration, and Grief and Healing, as well as the two chapters on the Holy Spirit and Christians.
Many of you in this category will need professional help from a Christian counselor or a pastor with training in counseling, in addition to powerful supernatural encounters with the Spirit Himself. And yeah, I know it’s a lot of work, but you can do this. I have every confidence in you! (This is how healthy dads talk.) You have no other option if you ever wish to progress beyond a dysfunctional, hurt, addicted, abused, and angry spiritual baby. Instead you want to grow up into a man or woman who knows the oh-so-deep and delightful heart of God the Father. Speaking from oh-so-much personal experience…
As for belief, blessing, and reward, these foundational aspects of fatherhood are pretty much twisted beyond all recognition for those with abusive dads. Angry and abusive fathers don’t believe in anyone, much less themselves, so they possess no ability to believe in their children. Addicted dads only care about their next fix or buzz. Controlling types only use belief and reward when it suits them, as a means to their ends. The acceptance of perfectionistic fathers is ever a mirage that is just out of reach; no matter how hard you work, their belief in you must be earned over and over again. Father wounds like these create major problems. Those of us with abusive fathers not only have difficulty believing in God, we don’t even believe in ourselves. We don’t believe that God believes in us. If your earthly father told you over and over again you won’t amount to a hill of beans, it must be true. God believes in you, but raised with such an earthly father can you ever truly believe in God?
Even more so, abusive dads have no ability to bless, to release their children to their destinies—they are either too screwed up to care, or they believe that everything must be earned by hard work. Blessing, however, must first be released by the one with authority to do so—long before there is any proof of the child’s potential. Indeed, the blessing is required first to make the destiny attainable. Abusive fathers expect from their children that which they, as fathers, have never given. Our Heavenly Father, in stark contrast, blesses His Son out loud long before there is any sign of His Son’s obedience, much less fulfilled destiny.
Children of abusive or perfectionistic parents normally need a powerful, supernatural encounter with God in order to even come to salvation, something like Paul getting knocked to the ground and blinded by his encounter with Jesus. When they submit to both the Father’s Hand and Heart, however, they can turn into world-class Christians. I have no idea what wounds drove Paul to be such a murderous persecutor, but they were obviously deep. Note that Paul’s sanctification process required much suffering (the Father’s Hand), wise mentors like Ananias and Barnabas, years in the desert, and supernatural experiences like trances, tongues, and heavenly visions, in addition to the normal things like constant prayer and study of God’s Word. It was all to great effect, however, because Paul became a spiritual father, second to none.