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!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
It’s hard to think of God as your Daddy when the relationship with your earthly father was lacking or abusive.
One evening many years ago, my hair dresser and I were talking about God as a Father. I shared with her some of my struggles with my own father. She looked at me and said, Your earthly father may let you down, but your Heavenly Father will never let you down. Her words have echoed in my mind ever since that night twenty plus years ago, as I’ve struggled to believe what she said.
My counselor gave me an assignment yesterday to write a letter to God daily, and imagine that I’m a little girl asking her Daddy for what I want.
I’ve tried to think of memories when I actually did desire something from my earthly father as a little girl. The sad reality is all I can think of are the material things that I asked him for. Buying me something was his way of showing me he cared. I think it also may have been his way of silencing his guilty conscious.
Somehow thinking of God as my father also causes my mind to default to my former pastor. My attention starved heart longed and asked for his affection, acceptance and love, which he readily gave. Initially, I wholeheartedly believed this man was God’s gift of a father that I’d never had. I believed He was going to use it to heal the hurt and fill the void. Spending time with him gave my heart so much comfort. When he hugged me I felt like a little girl safe in her father’s arms. I realized during that time that what I shared with him during those first few weeks was what I’d really longed for from my Daddy as a little girl. However, abuse tarnished both of these fatherly relationships. As a result, I realize that I’m terrified of my desires for healthy intimacy and affection. I feel compelled in relationships now to always be the one that’s needed, because this feels safer than needing someone else.
I wish I could go in and rewire my brain so that when I think about God being my Daddy that I’d be able to bring up a beautiful picture in my mind of a little girl being held by her Daddy. But I can’t. Most of the time when I think about Him that way I feel a deep sense of shame.
I totally understand why William Paul Young made God a woman in the book The Shack. A lot of Christians got up in arms over this book. They were afraid that through reading this fictional book the readers might get a wrong view of God. What they didn’t get was that the author was trying to help readers who had a wrong view of God due to having a negative relationship with their father, could get a right view of the incredible love of God. I’m coming to the same conclusion William Paul Young did, that I desperately need another picture in my mind of what the love of God looks like.
Maybe it’s time to stop looking so hard into the past at everything that went wrong and ask God to show me examples of His love that’s revealed around me.
Last night God used a text to do this. Our son had been texting my husband to ask him about a decision that he needed to make. My husband’s texted him these back encouraging words:
Your Mom and I are so very proud of you and even if things don’t work out like you want them to, we will still be proud…
My husband, who’s been overwhelmed by stresses in his own life and the many toxic relationships he’s had with his own family and our former pastor began to cry after hitting send. He said, If only I’d had someone to tell me the same thing…
The words that came out of my mouth surprised even me. I said, Imagine God is sending you that text… And I realized at that moment that I didn’t have to look at my failed relationships for examples of what a good father was like, I can look at my own relationships with my children.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11 ESV
Our earthly father may have let us down, others who were supposed to be examples of God in our lives may have let us down, but God will never, ever let us down. Don’t forget it and I’ll promise not to either!