As a child growing up I didn’t have a typical relationship with my father. My parents divorced when I was six and my dad remarried quickly. My dad suddenly became a “weekend dad” only. Trying to make up for the five days a week he wasn’t with me and my siblings, Dad tried to squeeze a whole lot of living, life lessons – and discipline, into the eight days a month we visited with him and his new wife.
Being a military man, my dad was extremely strict and frequently disciplined with humiliation and physical punishment. It was a tough way to grow up for the most part and sadly, laid the foundation for my relationship with my Heavenly Father in the early years of my Christian walk.
It’s probably safe to say that for many of us who grew up with difficult parent/child relationships, figuring out how to trust our Heavenly Father can sometimes feel incomprehensible. For me, the fear I suffered from under my father’s care translated to a very real fear of my Heavenly Father.
Those fears boiled down to things like always being afraid to make a decision about anything because I feared God’s wrath. I suffered with perfectionism for many years because I was afraid if I wasn’t perfect, I would be rejected and abandoned by God. Most of all I had an extremely difficult time believing the simple truth that God loved me – just as I was. It simply did not compute in my brain. How could the Lord of the universe, the Creator of all, possibly love me when I felt “conditional love” from my biological father?
Later in life my dad and I were able to enjoy an easier rapport with one another, but frequently struggled to be completely comfortable together. While we came to an understanding in our relationship, I say with all sadness that I never shared one truly, completely honest emotion or thought with him before he died. Even though he became a devoted Christian later in his life, we’d lost too much and my fears and memories were too large to overcome.
As we prepare to honor our fathers and father figures next week on Father’s Day, if you’re someone struggling with your earthly father relationship, I would challenge you to let go of those fears, dashed hopes, disappointments and expectations associated with your earthly dad and lay them at the foot of the cross. I encourage you to cling to the hope of Christ and the love of the Heavenly Father. God’s love is unconditional.
If you call him ‘Lord,’ your Heavenly Father adores you. You are the apple of His eye and He died for YOU because He loves YOU. You don’t have to prove anything to Him. He’s already done the work for you. You may not recover your lost childhood, but you can make a brand new beginning from this day forward and finally enjoy being a “Daddy’s girl.” There’s no simpler way to say it than, your Father loves you!
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. Psalm 27:10 (NLT)
Blessings in Christ,