When I was a little girl The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie were popular on television. The kind and loving father figures on these shows made my heart ache for the kind of love I saw acted out on screen. My best friend’s father affectionately called my friend Schatzi (German for “sweetheart”). I always wondered what it would be like to have a father show me genuine affection. As I grew older and started attending weddings, I would look with curiosity and longing at the father-daughter dance and wonder what it must be like to receive that kind of protective fatherly love.
In my 20s I was a born-again Christian. I heard many sermons, songs, and scriptural verses about the healing love of God the Father. Here is an opportunity, I mused, to fill that void in my heart and really accept God’s fatherly love. But every time I considered God as a father I felt numb. In fact, I didn’t like to think of the concept of God as a Father because it was just a painful reminder of my own father wound.
I saw my earthly father as a frightening and creepy figure. He was critical and lacked the ability to show appropriate love and affection to his four children. Unfortunately, he was a narcissist but an extremely successful executive who traveled constantly. When I was eight years old, he left my mom and our family for my mom’s friend (a woman who was also married with three children). My dad was a functional alcoholic for years and I rarely saw him without a drink in his hand. Once when he was drunk he told my sister he would have sex with her if she wasn’t his daughter.
My dad was a sick man and when I thought of God as a loving father I just couldn’t connect with the image.
In April 2020, my dad died. It was through prayer that I came to realize my need to forgive him and finally let go. As I went through an in-depth forgiveness process while meditating on Jesus holding me, His “little lamb,” I slowly let go of my bitterness and resentment toward my father. God opened up and healed my wounds as I prayed and talked to my spiritual director. When the forgiveness process was over, I felt free. Yet at the same time, I still didn’t know the love of a father. Forgiving my father took away the hurt but it did not replace the love that I never experienced from him.
In August of that same year, God led me back to ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families). I began learning about the concept of reparenting and it made a lot of sense to me. I started practicing the principles but something was missing. The Big Red Book talked about reparenting “ourselves” with gentleness, love, and respect. My main problem with that was that I did not have a kind and loving parental voice with which to reparent myself, especially a “fatherly voice.”
In December 2020, God led me to Catholic in Recovery. At my first meeting, I met Scott W., Marcia C., Jeanne, and others. I was graciously received from the start and Marcia invited me to participate in the upcoming Saint Joseph consecration. It was then that I began to see the possibility of connecting to God as a loving father through the spiritual fatherhood of Saint Joseph.
Starting on February 16, 2021, we went through the book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of our Spiritual Father by Donald Calloway, MIC. As the weeks of our consecration passed by, I began to see in Saint Joseph what I always longed for in my own earthly father. I began to pray and ask him to reparent me the same way I have long asked the Blessed Mother to be my spiritual mother. As the book beautifully explains:
“Jesus wants you to have the spiritual fatherhood of St. Joseph because there is no man more capable of modeling true fatherhood for you than St. Joseph. His loving spiritual fatherhood has the power to draw you extremely close to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, increase your virtue, protect you from Satan, and help you reach heaven.”
As I read the book I found my heart increasingly warmed, growing in trust of Saint Joseph. After my consecration on March 19, 2021 (the Feast of Saint Joseph), I began to include in my meditation time a daily conversation with Saint Joseph. I ask him to guide me with his prayers and gently reparent the wounds left by my earthly father.
I now have a deeper sense of God’s love and when I pray the Our Father I can now sometimes imagine God as the loving Father, just like my spiritual father, Saint Joseph.
Born and raised Catholic, Chloe is an adult child of alcoholics who recently rediscovered the beauty of 12-step recovery through attending Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and Catholic in Recovery meetings. For many years, Chloe was an Evangelical Christian before the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the witness of a dear friend eventually drew her back to the Catholic faith.