“Why don’t you have a daddy?”
At the tender age of two, TJ asked me a question I wasn’t quite ready to answer.
From as early as I could remember, I have always been asked about my father. It wasn’t enough data for others to know my dad left when I was five. People want to know the reasons why and whether I knew where he was now.
I didn’t mind them asking, because I really didn’t have much to tell.
Growing up without a father has impacted me innumerably, especially in my perception of God.
A Paradox of Fathers
As a little girl, I first came to know God as my Best Friend, Jesus. In contrast, God as Father was a rather fuzzy Sovereign who was distant, but in control. Without an actual person to call father, I was left with the impressions of other dads I had seen briefly, if at all, in my friends’ homes.
It didn’t help that the God of the Old Testament often appeared angry and punitive. “Holy” to me meant don’t-get-Him-mad-and-don’t-do-anything-He-doesn’t-like.
I did, however, encounter a paradox in my relationship with God the Father. Whenever I was most afraid, in dire need of counsel, or felt unloved, God would speak to me — as the Father of my dreams.
During those times, God, as Father, was the most loving, gentle, and generous person I’ve always longed to have in my life.
So, you see, I carry a contradiction of God images — one who is disinterested and detached, and another who is attentive and smiling at me.
Who is the real father?
What Children Understand About God
It has helped shed some light on how I came to first understand God as a little girl.
“It is parenting which dictates children’s vision of God.
… if parents are extremely strict and punishing… their children are more likely to believe that God is punishing, angry, and powerful.
for children who have extremely strained relationships with parents – or when a parent is absent from their lives–
…[those children] increasingly think of God as a surrogate parent…with the traits of an idealized version of the missing parent – who is caring, attentive, and highly involved in their day-to-day lives… “
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the One who “dictates” and regenerates our vision of God, once we become His children. But, as God calls us to put off our old identity and put on the new, it is eye-opening to understand how our old thinking may have formed our opinions today.
Reading this article has renewed a desire to know my real Father better and to look for Him afresh in the Scriptures. I need only to draw closer and He will draw near to me.
The role of a father cannot be undervalued. The importance of a loving one to reflect God’s true nature cannot be overstated.
The older I grow, the more I have a need for one — the real One.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he,
I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ” ~ God
How has your relationship with God the Father evolved over time?
What influenced your understanding of our Heavenly Father?
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