As always, this is not a book report. Rather, it is a post about the major themes that emerged while reading “Father Fiction” by Donald Miller. If you can identify with the themes, I hope you will comment below. Also, if you have read the book, please let me know what you thought.
The first theme that emerged for me while reading this book was my own struggle. My relationship or lack thereof with my biological father is what initially led me to this title. I was seeking a roadmap for some reconciliation and an opportunity to bury the emotions I have held within me since my childhood.
For my entire life, my mother has been there. She has been my rock, my foundation, and my biggest fan. Without her support, I don’t know where I would be right now. Yet, all of my life I have lived with the fact that I was born to a man who didn’t want me. He wasn’t there for my birth. He missed my first words, my first steps, countless birthdays, graduations, my first job, and so much more. He won’t meet the man I hope to marry. He won’t be there for the celebrations to come. Beyond a short period from nine to thirteen, he has never made an effort to be there.
Now, I should mention I have not been without. I have an amazing step-father. Eldon has always treated me with love, kindness, and equal to his own biological children. I was never made to feel different or less than. As far as I am concerned, Eldon is my dad and always will be. Yet, this feeling of abandonment sticks with me. In many regards, I know I am not alone here which is why I found this book so refreshing. It was a joy and revelation to be able to discover that others have been on this road before me.
When you finally come to terms with the sense of abandonment you feel from an absent father or parent, you also begin a slow process of learning to trust. In my case, I had to teach myself to trust other men. As I mentioned above, my mother has always been there for me, because of this I have always felt more comfortable around women. If we are falsely assigning gender roles to activities, then I have always felt more comfortable cleaning, cooking, decorating, organizing, and looking after a home. On the flipside, working on a car, mowing the lawn, repairing the home, hunting, and fishing absolutely bore me to death. Now, I don’t know if this is a product of nature or my nurturing, but a part of me believes it might be a little bit of both. I do know this and figuring this out for myself was an epiphany, but I am more comfortable doing the things often assigned to women, because it allowed me to continue being around my mom. Around her, I felt comfortable, safe, and protected.
As I have grown older and become more comfortable with who I am, I have also learned to trust men. I find the gender roles we assign to the vast majority of activities to be falsely constructed. I also believe they have no place in my life. I do the things I do, because I enjoy them; not because of some preconceived notion. When this simple, yet powerful notion came to me, it was a revelation. It also allowed me to heal some wounds caused by an absent father. I realized I didn’t need to be like other men nor did I need to prove my masculinity. I could find other ways to share my life with my step-dad, my brothers, and my friends.
The final theme that emerged for me while reading this book was one of reconciliation. I have often said, that if my biological father were to die tomorrow, I am not sure I would attend the funeral. I know this may seem harsh. It seems harsh to me too. Coming from a 32 year old man, it may also seem childish. I feel the same way. If I am being honest, I do long for some sense of forgiveness. I want to forgive my father for his sins; his absence, his abonnement, his love I never received. Perhaps, in time, I will, but I write and share this piece as a changed man. No longer, am I filled with anger, rage, and loneliness. I don’t blame my father for the things that didn’t go right in my life. Instead, I am solely focused on building the best life for myself possible. For those that want to be a positive influence on that life, you are more than welcome to come along. For those who are not going to add value, you are dismissed.
Be good to each other,