I came across a blog post titled “To the girl without a father.” The writer spoke of her own journey through life, trying to find validation from men other than her father, how that brought her to rock bottom, but how she was ultimately saved by faith. And I appreciated the post. I think a lot of girls need to hear that yes, earthly fathers (and mothers) do fail. And that no, our value and worth is not determined by the attention that anyone, man or woman, can give us, even if it’s so tempting to believe that. And you won’t all believe me, but God really truly does love you and is the perfect father we’ve all been looking for.
But I don’t think that message is just for girls. What about the boys? What about the men out there, searching for the person who will show them what it means to be a man? So I address this “To the men without a father.”
Unlike the author of the blog post I mentioned earlier, I do not have firsthand experience in this and can therefore, not address it as I would address a former self. But I do know you. I don’t know all of you in person or what your story is. Maybe your dad died when you were little, maybe your father is an alcoholic, maybe your parents are divorced, or maybe you and your dad just don’t get along.
Society is stupid and says that girls have to be pretty, and guys have to be strong. Girls aren’t supposed to have complex characters; we’re all basically supposed to be emotional children who talk all the time. Guys, on the other hand, aren’t allowed to show emotions like sadness or humility. You’re supposed to be strong representatives of “the male species,” once again, no complex characters here.
So you grow up hearing from social media that you’re supposed to be completely strong and stoic WHEN EVERY MAN IN THEIR RIGHT MIND KNOWS THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE. But you have no one to tell you that. So you try to live up to that ideal. And you fail. Try again. Fail again. Try, fail, try, fail. Again, and again, and again. And then you just feel like a failure, because no one has told you otherwise. And you end up feeling ashamed because you measure your worth on a scale piled high with all of your failures.
Just like the girl who tries to define her worth against her relationships with men, it’s unhealthy for a man to define his worth against his failure to be what he thinks men are supposed to look like. That’s why you need a father, biological or otherwise, to show you.
I also want to target the subject of mothers. No, I’m not forgetting you. You all are the wonderful people who carried us into this world and nurture and protect us as we grow up. And just like our fathers, you accompany us on our journey to discover who we are. And that’s why parents are so vitally important. Parents are the first people we meet who have developed their sense of self, and we follow their example in doing so, pretty or not. It all comes down to identity, which, other than the unmerited love of God, is the only thing we can count on to have in this world.
p.s. Yes, I was specifically targeting the boys out there, mostly because I feel like I felt like they needed to hear it more. But I tried to make this relatable to the girls too. Because the true mark of humanity, not of masculinity or femininity exclusively, is this mix of strength and weakness. We are complicated people. We fail. None of us are strong enough. And it’s time we start acting like we know this.