Oh! Ephraim is my dear, dear son,
my child in whom I take pleasure!
Every time I mention his name,
my heart bursts with longing for him!
Everything in me cries out for him.
Softly and tenderly I wait for him. (Jer. 31:20 The Message)
Put your own name in this verse, in the place of “Ephraim” (a name for God’s people, and that includes you). Imagine that God’s heart bursts with longing for you. This is the message of Jesus: there is a good and loving Father who cares so deeply and passionately for you. He yearns to be your Father now. He will draw near, if you’ll let him. No matter how old we are, our true Father wants us to experience being his beloved sons, and all the joys of boyhood that go with it. But it requires opening our hearts, which will take us back into some of our deepest wounds, and the cynicism and resignation that shut our hearts down a long time ago. God does this so that he might bring his love and healing to the fatherless boy within us, the boy that still needs to know he is the beloved son.
And so, to begin with, you might ask yourself, “Did I have a father with whom I felt safe?” and, “Did I know I was prized by my father?” “Was I invited to be a boy, did I get to live a boy’s life as it was meant to be?” You might even want to write out your answers to those questions, especially the follow-up question, “Why...or why not?” Tell your story, at least to yourself, and to God.