Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You say 'Father' and I hear nothing good...

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.

Just because.

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.


  1. I appreciate the honesty of this post. My preacher has talked about this: many of you have had horrible earthly fathers, and you get your idea of God from that. Something along those lines. It's very sad that men who are supposed to love unconditionally ruin lives even after many, many years. I know you know this already, but you aren't alone. I pray one day you will experience God in the way He designed it to be.

    Also, the Bible says that Satan in the accuser so maybe when you feel accused (or maybe this part of your post was in reference to your stepfather's reaction?) realize God is not accusing you of something He has forgiven.

    I pray you will feel loved, forgiven, whatever it is your heart longs for!

    1. I'm glad this post didn't make you roll your eyes. Seriously, I feel sometimes like bringing this up again and again is just admitting that I am not the well adjusted person I like to pretend I am. And that people must get annoyed with my whining.

      Parents make their children, for good or for bad. I wish more of them were capable of thinking about that and making choices for the good of their children than they seem to be. But, you know, it's not all doom and gloom! Lots of people have excellent parents and I have some really great parental type people in my life.

      Damage is what damage is though, and I'm slowly working on not being a basket case. At least in this regard. :)

      The accusation was about my step-father, but it's a good illustration of how I have trouble putting absolute forgiveness and 'father' together in my head. Parents, normal parents, will forgive their children mistakes and never bring it up again. People do this all the time. It's normal. And I imagine that God, being above and beyond humanity, would forgive even more. Put the 'father' into it though and there's a lizard part of my brain that insists He's just waiting to bring it up later.

      Maybe that is Satan though, whispering in my ear.

      *hugs Susanne*

      Next post shall be less whiny!

    2. I don't think you talk about it that much. I am glad you open up about things that bother you. "Whine" away! :)

  2. I really wish I knew what to say here. I lead singing time with the kids (ages 3-11) at church while their parents are in their Sunday school classes, and some of them live in homes without fathers. I think the key for helping them understand it is to teach what the ideal is, help them realize that they aren't living in the ideal, and know that they have the ability to live good lives despite of that. If that makes any sense.
    One of the songs we sing includes the line, "God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be." My family isn't the ideal standard, but because it's not ideal, I've learned to have more trust in God's plan for me, and I've learned how to forgive not because I recall being forgiven, but because my mom practically clings to her grudges and I've seen what that does to her.

    Blogs are cheaper than therapy, so whine away.

    1. There are plenty of kids who live in less than ideal families, true. I wouldn't consider the lack of a father to be that much of a detriment, truth be told, but that's likely my prejudice showing again. :)

      Still, I think what you're saying is an excellent approach. After all, while our circumstances inform us, they don't have to define us. And the early we learn that, the better chance it has of sinking in.

      I used to cling to my anger too, actually. I learned that it didn't do anything but hurt me, and hurt my possibilities of relationships, not just with other people but with God. If nothing else, I've managed to learn that. It's kind of funny that I'm not angry with my step-father any more, he has his own problems and a life that turned him into who he is, but I'm still at least a little afraid of him. Obviously.

      Forgiveness, for me, is easier to give than to trust. Likely because I know that I've forgiven someone, because it's inside of myself, right? But how do you trust that the person who says that they've forgiven you really has? You can't ever know another persons thoughts like that. There's always the chance that they're lying. Or that they don't even realize they're still holding it against you subconsciously.

      Blogs are cheaper than therapy or alcohol, so there's that! :)


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