How Fathers Affect Our View of God
As the granddaughter of a Baptist pastor, I never questioned the stories of the Bible. No matter how far-fetched they may have seemed, I believed them. The challenge began when I had to apply my child-like faith to adult problems.
I had more faith in God parting the red sea than His ability to intimately know and love me. Like climbing a steep mountain with no equipment, I struggled well into adulthood. It took more than a decade to realize my perspective was in part a byproduct of growing up without my earthly dad.
By design, the relationship with our biological dad should prepare us for a relationship with our heavenly father. A daddy’s nature provides a window through which we can experience the heart of God. According to The Washington Times, “Sociologists say it’s common for people to perceive that God is like the fatherly figures in their lives. If dad is caring, patient and concerned, then children will believe God has those same characteristics. And the opposite holds true when a father is harsh, judgmental or absent.”
Most often when fathers are tender, loving and compassionate, it lends itself to believing God is this way too. Likewise, if the father was abusive, absent physically or emotionally, the adult child may believe that is God’s nature as well; I did.
My childhood family of three ended almost as soon as it began. I was a baby when my parents divorced, and consequently, I grew up spending little to no time with my dad. As a result, I unknowingly equated the absence of my father as a child with God’s seeming absence as an adult.
He didn’t speak to me audibly.
He couldn’t be seen.
My prayers seemed to go unanswered.
Many times I felt ignored, believing I could never know and be known by an invisible God.
I was wrong.
Examining the relationship with my earthly dad was a prerequisite to embracing God as Father. During a mentoring session I discovered how different types of earthly dads impact our relationship with God. Just as light brings clarity to a dark room, understanding the different types of fathers gave me a new perspective on God.
(The description of fathers was adapted from Re:New Mentoring Materials © Northpoint Church. )
Authoritarian fathers are:
- Concerned with complete control or obedience.
- Not interested in your opinions, ideas, or desires.
- Intent on their own way.
- Characterized as being strict.
Authoritarian fathers can inadvertently influence their children to rebel against God.
- Inflict emotional, physical, or sexual pain.
- Destroy a child’s sense of worth and trust.
- Skew the daughter’s view of intimacy.
Abusive fathers can inadvertently influence their children to have difficulties trusting, being vulnerable and emotionally relating to God.
Distant or Passive fathers:
- Show little to no affection.
- Rarely demonstrate emotion.
- Interact little with their children.
- Display no interest in the child or their activities.
Distant or passive fathers can inadvertently influence their children to view God as uninvolved and disinterested in their lives.
Absent fathers are:
- Unavailable due to work, divorce, death, remarriage or abandonment.
Absent fathers can inadvertently influence their children to believe that God is inaccessible or nonexistent.
I had come to view God as distant, silent, and uninterested with the ache I carried in my soul. However, after much introspection, and counseling I began to distinguish the lies that laid the foundation for my perspective of God. In changing my mindset, I debunked the lies I previously believed were truth.
Lie # 1: God is like my daddy.
Truth: My dad is like me – flawed, broken and in need of a savior. Even the greatest fathers are imperfect and fall short in comparison to God. Although fathers can reflect the heart of God, they are not God and we must make the distinction.
Lie # 2: God’s silence means He doesn’t love me.
His communication is endless; through the Bible, people, nature, and our circumstances, God communicates His love for us. “Deep within our souls an omniscient God engages in a continuous discourse between our thoughts and His. The challenge is silencing the noise around and within so we can hear.
Lie# 3: God cannot be trusted.
Truth: After experiencing disappointment in my father daughter relationship I found it difficult to trust God. But as a baby begins to walk, I took a step and then another. In fact I’m still taking steps in my journey with an all-knowing God, forever learning to trust, and countering lies that separate me and Him.