Our Father–can you relate?

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Jesus told His Church–His body of followers–to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven….

(Overly?) Sensitive from my youngest years about being an only child, my friends’ complaints about having to share bedrooms, do without wished-for toys, or wear hand-me-downs didn’t dissuade me. Their “You’re so lucky!” jealous lamentations deeply pained me. …I didn’t want to be an only child. How to begin to explain?

Although I left my friends’ taunts unanswered in words, keeping to myself thoughts of:  Here. Take this. See if I care about any of these things you’re so jealous of, I answered them in works. I distributed my toys to my friends, not to gain their friendship, but to prove to myself, to my parents, and to them that it was siblings, not toys, that I wanted.

Our Father Who art in heaven…

It was in reading a reflection–unfortunately, not until relatively recently–on the Lord’s prayer in which the author noted that the prayer does not begin “My Father” that I had an amazing epiphany!

True! I had always prayed “Our Father,”  and had never—not even once—substituted “My Father.”  No matter. Though I might have prayed verbally in a communal way, the truth is, interiorly, I was thinking and feeling in a unilateral way.

An only child, I never shared my father with any other child. “Our father” was not in my lived familial experience or vocabulary–neither was “my sister” or “my brother.”

Friends, yes. Close friends; best friends—I thought so. But every time there was a Baptismal godparent or matron of honor to be chosen, my friends always explained that surely I understood that our friendship notwithstanding, they “had” to choose their sisters.

I got it. I could never be a real sister, no matter how close I got to others.  And, in addition to feeling sorry for myself, I admit having been angry. It wasn’t my fault that I was an only child. Before I understood that luck or magical thinking had nothing to do with gaining siblings, hadn’t I thrown coins into every wishing well within arms’ length? In addition–Hadn’t I asked? Hadn’t I prayed?

Our Father Who art in heaven…

As an adult, I’ve had a spiritual director advise me to think about Jesus in terms of my only-childhood. Jesus was an Only Child, too. And yet, with God as our Father, no one was more brother–truly Brother to every human being ever born–than He is.

I had never thought of Him that way! Realizing that humanly speaking, Jesus was an only child, too, and yet spiritually, every believer is His brother or sister was healing. Jesus, humanly an only child, based on His spiritual relationship to all humanity, was the first to say “Our Father.” That insight really helped me.

It helped open me up to reducing (but, unfortunately, not fully eliminating) a lifetime of  anger, jealousy, and resentment about being an only child to make room for recognizing, appreciating, and embracing the inadvertent spiritual benefits of my being an only child…

The appreciation of quiet time. The ability to be by myself. The detachment from some (not all!) material things; the preference to be simple in taste–even if I had formed these predilections in early childhood out of spite–to show my parents and the rest of the world  that I didn’t want the things my parents’ money bought for me, I wanted their love, expressed in a sibling.

And once I could thank God for the ways that being an only child had brought me closer to Him, then I could ask to be healed and to be taught to believe that I am part of a church community–not of so many individuals, many of whom are strangers praying, living the Faith in a parallel way–much the way toddlers engage in parallel play—but, truly, as brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of the one true Father.

Our Father Who art in heaven…

Am I there? No…Not yet.

But, by God’s grace, someday before I die, I pray that I will be open to the gift the Lord might give to allow me to fully think, believe, and feel a sense of Church as brothers and sisters of Christ, living out the Our Father, and when praying the words “Our Father” to really mean them, to intentionally really live them as part of Church–as a community of believers, united through Jesus.

Amen.   …As I journey on Thursdays and all days, I appreciate and welcome your thoughts and inspirations. Thank you for reaching out to me in prayer and friendship. (Dare I say holy sibling-hood?)

Our Father Who art in heaven…

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This entry was posted in Church, Community, Onliness, Our Father, Siblings, Spiritual Journey, Spiritual Journey Thursday. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Our Father–can you relate?

  1. cvarsalona says:

    Nicely done and I am glad to connect with you. My husband is an only child but was happy in his state of life. Love the new thought sibling-hood. Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday.

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    • bobbietaylor says:

      Appreciate so very much your taking time to read & comment. Thank you for your very warm, affirming SJT welcome. God bless you! (p.s. Your husband’s lucky! Did he have cousins nearby to fill the sibling gaps?…If not, he’s a stronger, more well-adjusted person than I in the only-child regard (and spilling over from there into so many other aspects of personhood!) God bless both of you. …Glad you like “sibling-hood.” Was spontaneous last minute addition. You know–when you surprise yourself by something you’ve written and say–Where did that come from? …Bless you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • cvarsalona says:

        My husband is a strong person and his mother had many issues while he was going up. Independence had to be fostered. Only child was not an issue because there were so many more to deal with.

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      • bobbietaylor says:

        Sorry for whatever he lived through growing up. Glad he has fared well; am sure you’re been a great blessing in his life! God bless you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I never thought of being an only child in this way… My experience was entirely different, as I’m the oldest of nine! And how I often wished for quiet, less chaos, mess, less responsibility and resented the thought drummed into me that I had better be a good example to my younger siblings. (That was my burden to bear.) I’m so glad you’ve reached some measure of peace with your lone child status. That is where the church can be a healing balm if it’s operating in the body-life way that Jesus meant for it to as a home and family for singles, widows & widowers, orphans and of course onlies. Thanks for sharing this!

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    • bobbietaylor says:

      Thank you for taking time to share about the shade of green grass on the other side of the fence! We humans are so interesting, aren’t we? Too much/too many; not enough/too few….”Balm” is one of my favorite Scripture words. Never thought of it in terms of the church–don’t know why not, even though it is in the church that I am finding healing. Where else can I experience being and having a sibling? Thank you for opening my eyes. Peace!

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  3. I’m so happy to have you join us in our Spiritual Journey Thursday community. Notice I said “our”! 😉 Your writing is beautiful, honest, and so heartfelt. I am an only child!! The process you brought to your journey to find peace and a larger family is fascinating. Jesus continues to teach us in all kinds of ways on all kinds of subjects, doesn’t He?! Welcome, and I hope you continue to bless us with your words each Thursday!

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    • bobbietaylor says:

      Thank you for your enthusiastically warm welcome! I do believe the Lord will use SJT (yes! with your gracious permission: “our” SJT) platform you generously facilitate to bring lots of healing to those who write, read, and reflect. Is it ok to include the SJT logo/hot link on my site, or would you prefer I first faithfully do some SJT posting? Please pray that the Lord give me perseverance to do just that! I really want to. Thank you for gifting me with the realization that I’m not just posting on a site where other people post, too, but that I am being invited to become part of a SJ-sharing community. What a blessing you’re offering. Thank you! …Sometime you’ll have to share your secret..I sense you fared much healthier than I at being an only child. I admire and envy you (in a sisterly-Godly way, if that is possible:)
      Thank you again and again! See you (God Willing) next Thursday.

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