A Father’s Prophecy

“Love involves a peculiar, unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding.”

(Diane Arbus)

This Is Us

Let me start by saying that I am one of

those people; The ones who cried every week at the TV show,

This Is Us
, and are feeling ridiculous grief over the show’s final season. It’s like we are all teenagers who just lost Jack, and now we are simultaneously grown people losing Rebecca too. I feel you, fellow triplet!!

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, hang in there with me. This blog will still make sense.

Island Girl

There is an episode in Season 6 where we get to eavesdrop on Beth’s flashback conversation with her father, when she was very young. He tells her story back to her: “You are my little island girl who danced before she walked.” He tells her that she will do great things in her life.

Beth’s trajectory isn’t smooth. Her relationship with dance gets shoved through the meat grinder of life. Her father dies while she is young and her dreams get derailed.

We watch Beth through six seasons as she finds her way back to dance. She fulfills her father’s prophecy on her life.

Belonging In truth, we have watched his prophecy fulfilled from the very beginning. Even when everything in their life is chaos, Beth has a certain solidity. Even when her knees shake, Beth is firmly rooted in her truth as she has her students face the dance studio mirror and repeat: “I can, and I will. I can, and I will.” And they do.

It’s easy to be cynical and remind ourselves that the show is fiction. Real life doesn’t work that way. Except that sometimes, it does.

Hold My Legwarmers I went to high school with a number of people who had fathers who believed in them. You could almost smell the confidence on them!

Most people in high school wrestle one way or another with identity, with confidence, with trying to believe that they belong somewhere. These father-supported classmates had those normal struggles as well, but it was almost like they had a platform, a bottom line - a level below which they couldn’t even fathom going.

You know - that place where the rest of us regularly either visited or hung out? I am absolutely of the generation that is washed in gratitude for the fact that social media did not exist in our “learning curve” years.

There is something incantational about fatherly, life-giving words. Motherly words are magic as well, but it’s a different magic and a blog for another time.

To Clarify… What I call the “father energy” and the “mother energy” are not gender bound. The “mother energy” is the energy that we know we can rely on to catch us when we fall. The “father energy” is the energy that gives us the confidence to go “out there” (wherever “there” is) and bring our gifts. Neither of these energies are bound to specific bodies.

“Fathers,” whether biological, familial or communal, are these people who seem to our younger minds to be able to see the world and how things work. We could be totally wrong, but the chord they strike inside tells us we can trust them to know authoritatively what it takes to successfully navigate life.

Inheritance Psychologically, we take what we need from parents and parent figures. Until it serves us otherwise, we leave their flawed humanness behind. When that selected, authoritative father person speaks words of life over us, even when we struggle with their confidence in us, it settles into this profound place inside of us and takes root.

We can lose track of that truth. We can try to drown it out with substances. Anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges can leave us unable to access the truth of who we are. When the smoke clears and clarity returns, there it is, running parallel to our spines. We know “in our knower” that we belong.

Brains and Belonging

“Belonging” literally improves brain function, making us more able to make positive choices, to weigh consequences, to prioritize. These are all functions of the prefrontal cortex. When we feel securely connected, the prefrontal cortex is supported. When we lack a sense of belonging, it literally starts to detach from the rest of the brain. “You belong” is not simply a nice thought: It is chemically transformative.

For a myriad of reasons, many of us did not get those words of life spoken over us in an authoritative father voice. We stumbled and fumbled as our prefrontal cortex’s struggled to attach.

Those who have the father-spine inside of them sometimes can’t fathom the choices made by the father-anemic. Their bafflement can send shame messages to those who already feel less-than. To the father-anemic, those behaviors don’t even feel like choices at times.

Growing the Father Spine The healing truth is, fatherly words can support the child within us at any time in our lives. I can still point to four clear moments in my life where three different father-energy people whose perspective I trusted created a parallel spine inside of me, giving me what I needed to take hold of a positive future.

  • At 16, fatherly alchemy told me I had worth. I started to believe it for the first time.
  • At 26, fatherly alchemy told me that my awful, destructive behaviors did not determine my worth. I started to believe I might not be disqualified from a healthy, good, meaningful life.
  • At 32, that same fatherly alchemy told me directly, “Girl, if you have something to say, say it!” in an environment where female voices had not been welcome, (and where his specifically was.) I stopped muting my voice and started to believe I had something important to say.
  • At 47, a man who had known me most of my life said, (in an almost throw-off, “of course” way,) “I always knew you were smart.” I was stunned. In spite of academic successes, two college degrees and many years in effective clinical practice, I didn’t even know how much I doubted my intelligence until that authoritative father-voice affirmed me otherwise.

Ominous Power Father-voices can change our lives, pushing us either toward health and confidence or away from both.

I encourage those of you with father-voice in anyone’s ear to speak life over those you influence. If you don’t know how, if you’re struggling with your own father-anemia, reach out for help. If you don’t know where to startcontact me. Let’s figure out where you can find the father-voice you have been missing. You deserve it. The people for whom you bring a father-voice deserve it.

And You I encourage everyone reading this to think through the words and prophecies spoken over you in father-voice. Were they life-giving? Trust those prophecies. They resonate with you for a reason. Were they destructive? Send them back to the dung heap. Those words don’t belong to you. Replace them with a faithful father-voice.

If this blog leaves you hungry for positive father-voice in your life, follow your hunger. Go find it. It’s out there.

If this blog affirms you as one who has offered faithful, life-affirming father-voice to others, thank you. You are changing the world for good, and we celebrate you on Father’s Day and always.

........................................................................................................................................ If you’d like help finding Father Voice in your life, contact Tiffany today. Let’s figure out where you can find it.