So often we hear God referred to as a Father, and rightfully so. In so many ways God is a loving and compassionate Father to us. If we study the Bible we can see countless examples of His love for us, most notably sending His only son Jesus to die on the cross both for us and instead of us. We can also find in the Bible how the love and relationship that existed between God and His son Jesus serves as a beautiful model of the kind of love and relationship God desires to have with us as His children.
However, if our relationship with our earthly father has been challenging or nonexistent it can be so difficult to view God through the eyes of a Heavenly Father. We often project the way we view and relate to our earthly father onto God, which then impedes our ability to connect with and relate to God in the way He designed.
I know I have found this to be a particular struggle in my life since I would describe my relationship with my earthly father as tumultuous at best as I was growing up. There was a lack of intimacy in our relationship that led me to feel as though my voice and emotions were meaningless. Additionally, this lack of intimacy created huge insecurities in me about my value, worth, and identity. There was also a dynamic where it appeared that I was only acknowledged when I performed well at something, and in my case the something was always academics.
So when I did begin to go deeper in my relationship with God, I unknowingly and unintentionally saw God as a distant Father who didn’t care to be bothered with what was going on in my heart and mind. I also embraced this view of God as someone I had to work hard to please. So if I wasn’t doing what I deemed as ‘enough,’ God wasn’t going to accept me. And every insecurity and feeling of being worthless or insignificant persisted, despite me knowing that I was created in God’s image and loved unconditionally.
The thing is, I had head knowledge and not heart knowledge of who God was as my Father, and I think many of us are guilty of this. We read the Bible, memorize the scriptures, and can repeat back a verse on God’s love and care for us, but have we really embraced that or experienced it on a personal level?
How do we shed ourselves of these negative and false ideas about God as our Father, especially if our relationship with our earthly father has clouded our ability to view God objectively?
There is no one size fits all solution for this, but one of the best ways to get to know someone is to spend time with them, God included. There is no way we can expect to know God as a loving, compassionate, and generous Father if we never spend time with Him to experience Him as such. Time spent in the Word, in worship, and in prayer can illuminate aspects of God’s nature and character that we begin to feel and embrace for ourselves.