Spiritual Orphans

“Our Father Who is in heaven” . . . What picture of God comes to mind If you have ever said those words? Is it a picture that is loving, stern, cold, accepting, rejecting, indifferent, merciful angry, or unforgiving?

Our view of Father in heaven is more than often shaped by our fathers (mothers) who are on earth. The kinds of fathers we had growing up later become the lens through which we see God and life through.

If we see ourselves as worthless, ugly, or abandoned, it is very possible that these originated from the kind of home we grew up in. Add to this life experiences and you have a perfect recipe for a spiritual orphan.

I define a Spiritual Orphan, as someone who lives as if they are on the outside looking in.  Adam and Eve were the first spiritual orphans. When they were banished from the Garden, they and their descendants after them wandered from God, no longer locating their identities from their Heavenly Father, but from their earthly fathers.

It could be that you have a good father and cannot relate to these descriptions. It is also possible you have had a passive father, performance-oriented father, absentee father, authoritarian father, abusive father, and more. Whomever they were, they helped create the framework we later work out of in life.

All of their lives, spiritual orphans feel as if they don’t belong. They live under the un-uttered notion that you have to comply with the right dress code, speak the right words, and exhibit the right behavior to be accepted. Even then, they still grapple with the dogged feeling of banishment. Spiritual orphans are  haunted by the impression that there is always something left to be done in order to feel loved and valued. Performance becomes their life, and “driveness” their M.O.

Spiritual orphans struggle with constant fear of loss and failure. They often see themselves as   “I’m on my own” and live in isolation and independence. They are consumed with a driving need to prove their worth.

Behind the unsettling reality that we all struggle to some extent with “orphan” symptoms is the underlying truth that we long to find a place called home.


Home is not really a place but a state of heart – A condition of total completeness, safety, satisfaction, and joy (even in the midst of trouble). It’s the position where you are happily aware of who you are – The moment you realize that you can’t make God love you any more, or any less.

But what keeps us from finding “Home” and remain stuck in an orphan state is our inability or unwillingness to release our fathers on earth. I experienced this first-hand with my father. The way I saw to my earthly father prevented me from knowing how to receive love, security, and acceptance from my heavenly Father.

This is why forgiveness is not optional. If we are not willing to forgive, than our default identity will come from the pain and disappointments of our earthly father’s house.

Seeing and RELEASING

Becoming sons and daughters begins with seeing yourself as a son and daughter.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. (I John 3:1)

Choose to forgive and release your father/mother. As Jack Frost (writer of many great books on fathering) has well said,

“Be willing to forgive your earthly father for each area in his life where he failed to represent Father’s love”.  (Jack Frost)

When I learned to do this many years ago, I became free to love and honor my father and see God the Father from the eyes of a son and not an orphan.

For some, it may involve a lengthy process because of the pain and scars they endured. For others, counseling and bold steps of faith, but remember this is part of the process of becoming a son/daughter.

Romans 8:15

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

In the same way that being an orphan is like being on the outside looking in, being a son is being on the inside looking out.