The Orphan Mindset

I unpublished my book on children of divorce because something was missing. Freud’s book, The Interpretation of Dreams, took eight years to sell out the first printing of 600 copies. He made $209. Seven more editions followed. The new edition of my ebook will begin its trek to best-selling status in a few days.

One of the missing explanations in Caught in the Tail Lights was the almost inevitable implanted “orphan mindset.” Part of the Christian world calls it “an orphan spirit.” I’m trying to be precise. The orphan mindset can become a stronghold—a way of thinking that imprisons us. Many of us make it life’s controlling paradigm.

Brené Brown talks much about scarcity being the controlling element of this age. She identifies it as the “never enough” culture. The orphan mindset has companions—the spirit of poverty, the experience of emptiness and the feeling of or fear of abandonment.

Picture an earth-moving machine—a dragline—that digs a huge chunk of earth out of a hillside. Strip mining sites come to mind when I think of kids. On the cover of Robert McGee’s book called Father Hunger is the blurb:

“In the hearts of many men and women is a hollow place. We long for a blessing that only a father can give.”

Think with me about the “hollow place.” We can visualize it as a hole in our soul like a gash in the ground or out of a hillside made by an earth-moving bucket. It is the absence of something that cries to be filled. “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I don’t know who said that, but Jesus talks about dealing with emptiness or the latter will be worse than the first.

In 1991, Dr. Margo Maine wrote the book Father Hunger. She defined the hunger: “It is the emptiness experienced by women whose fathers were physically or emotionally absent—a void that leads to unrealistic body image.” She followed the publication of her book with another decade of research related to the impact of that “emptiness” on the family. That father hunger is now called “The father wound,” and impacts both males and females.

Freud thought of belief in God as a collective neurosis—a nice way to say mental disorder. He called the innate belief in God as a “longing for a father.” Could that mean the reality Jesus and Paul referred to as Abba Father?

Surgeon Dr. Bernie Siegel was one of the most highly visible medical people on TV in the late 70s and 80s. His books were/are opinion-shapers. He said that unless grieved and healed, loss can lead to illness. The body will attempt to fill the vacancy, he said.

Romans 8:14-17 talks about Abba Father—the Heavenly Daddy. Christian writers address the void (called the orphan mindset) as a lack of experiencing the embrace of Abba. The spiritual-emotional orphan feels like there is no place for him/her in the Father’s house.

“An orphan spirit defines a person who lacks emotional identity and seeks to earn his identity through his/her efforts (rather than because of inheritance or position or relationship). Their symptoms include a critical spirit, being defensive, unable to take correction, feeling abandoned and blames others.”

That is almost a verbatim description of over half of the children of divorce that become adult children of divorce. But it not limited to children of divorce, nor to those who have no relationship with God. It includes (as Ms. Maine describes above) those whose parent(s) is physically present, but does not connect emotionally. I think kids who grow up in single-parent households or where their primary caregivers are dysfunctional in the marriage relationship are vulnerable to the orphan mindset and its companions.

A feeling of being an orphan, living out of a poverty mindset, scarcity being a constant evaluation—not just not having enough, but never being enough. I might change my mind about this, but I think vulnerability to these characteristics is inevitable for a majority of kids.

We cannot be spiritually mature or emotionally healthy while controlled by the orphan mindset with any or all of the linked mindsets, occupying spirits or strongholds.

The healing has two tracks. Both must be deliberate. I want to save the second one until another time. The essential healing is to experience the embrace of Abba Father. Romans 8 and Galatians make me conclude that upon entering a relationship with God, that embrace and acceptance enters our spirit. But!!! What are we to do with the many serious Jesus Followers who are dominated by the orphan spirit?

My preliminary answer is that Abba Father with his look of love, embrace, acceptance and affirmation must move from our spirit into our souls—where we feel, think, choose to act.

  1. How does the “embrace of Abba” happen?
  2. In what setting does it happen?
  3. What does the overflow from spirit to soul demand—what is required to allow it to happen? God is not resistant or reluctant, so there must be some action or invitation we must make. What is it?

My family talked about opening a drive-thru healing facility where we would spray the person with Pam as they drove through. I personally thought it was rather clever—fast, anonymous and leave your offering at the first window. A person living as an emotional orphan, limited by the spirit of poverty and smothered by scarcity, will not find my drive-thru idea funny. What setting, activity or ritual would work comfortably? I’m seriously asking about a delivery system.

Dr. Brown uses the phrase “shame resilience” as a preemptive action. If the orphan mindset or something akin to that is inevitable or some of us are made vulnerable to it through abandonment, abuse, rejection, neglect, deficiency, then, what would the components of preemptive fortification be?

First, I contend, is the experience of receiving God into the hollow place as Abba Father. I welcome your input before I take my industrial size can of Pam on the road.

Copyright ©2015 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer –ebooks @ http://www/

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