As the granddaughter of a 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 in 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 the 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. When I did, I discovered father wounds have the potential to impact our relationship with God.
- We may assume God is distant when He is close.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
- We may have difficulty trusting God when He is trustworthy.
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19
- We may struggle to believe we matter to God when He formed us in our mother’s womb.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
- We may believe we are unloved when we are lavishly loved by Him.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a
- We may believe God is not concerned about the details of our lives when He cares about the things we are concerned about.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
For every misconception we may have formed about God as a result of our father wounds, God counters them with the truth found in His word. In Romans 8:15, Paul uses the phrase “Abba” to affirm the position of believers in God’s family.
No matter the type of biological father we experienced, God is inviting humanity into a beautiful relationship with Himself.
Kia Stephens is the founder of Entrusted Women, which she created to equip Christian women communicators of color. A contributing writer for iBelieve.com, Beloved Women, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and Crosswalk, she is a recurring speaker at She Speaks, the Beloved Women’s Conference, and the Entrusted Women’s Conference. Kia’s writing has been featured on (in)courage and Ann Voskamp’s blog. She has also been a featured guest on the Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast, Chrystal’s Chronicles with Chrystal Evans Hurst, Better Together with Barb Roose, and The Dream of You Podcast with Jo Saxton.