I sometimes feel like I'm beating a dead horse every time I come back to the concept of God as 'Father' and how it just does. not. work. for. me.
But here we are again.
I had a nightmare about my step-father last night.
Keep in mind that this is a man I haven't seen in more than a decade.
I haven't spoken to him in probably two years, even briefly.
I don't think about him...ever, really. Not as anything other than a thing that happened.
And I had a nightmare about him finding me last night.
That's what a 'father' is to me, at the end of it all. Someone to be afraid of, to try and appease their mercurial whims even when you know that no matter what you do, no matter how good you think you are, there will be some new and arbitrary rule that you missed and broke and that's when the screaming starts.
Or not. And the anger will still descend.
There's no dissonance for me between the 'angry' God of the Old Testament and the 'loving' God of the New. Because fathers do that. They act loving and caring and 'no one else would have taken you in, made you their own, I chose you', one second and rain blood and terror on you the next.
I *get* the 'fatherhood' of God, I do.
But I don't want it.
It scares me.
Because 'father' is a frightening concept for me.
At least I have the comfort of knowing that eventually my step-father will die. One day he will overdose or drink himself to death or just flat out die and be gone.
Part of me will still be afraid of him. But he'll be dead.
So there's that.
God as father...it's an eternally angry, hovering presence waiting for me at the edge of my life. Because I will always be failing, somehow, always be waiting for that loving face to turn.
But - but you can ask God for forgiveness, and He will because He is merciful, right? Right.
Only I can't trust it.
I can't tell you how many times I said I was sorry for whatever random offense I had committed and was 'forgiven' only for it to come back later, still that hovering accusation of how terrible I was. Even now, knowing that I am no more terrible than any other person on the planet, that I was actually a terribly well behaved child - out of fear if nothing else, I know that forgiveness is something you can't trust.
Not from a father.
Other people, sure.
Father's are creatures outside of human understanding or control.
I listen to preachers talk about the love of God the Father and I assume that when they hold the idea of father in their minds it is a very different sort of father than the one I have.
I certainly hope so, I wouldn't wish mine on anyone.
At the end of it all though, it means that I can't be comfortable with a Father-God. I can't.
This confuses some people that I've tried to explain it to, they always want to point out the good male role-models I've had, and I've tried to take what they say and apply it, to look at my grandfather as an example of God the Father, or my mothers' husband, who is also technically my step-father, but is an actual good man. And it might work, for a while, but I can't undo decades of learned association, I guess.
I always come back to the image of the 'father' I grew up with. The one scarred into my soul.
And I can't fit the two things together with any sort of comfort.
I can't worship God as a 'father' when a father is a terrible thing to have.