My good friend Susan wrote a post on her blog today about earthly fathers and our heavenly Father. Her thoughts and excellent writing always get my mind working. Here’s what she had to say about how we relate to God based on how we relate to our fathers here on earth:
I have read numerous books about Christian parenting since having my daughters. A common theme in many of these books dealt with how we view our “Heavenly Father” based on the perception we have of our “earthly father”. For example, if your dad was an angry father, you may see God as angry and hostile. If your dad was gentle and loving, you may see God as calm and peaceful. If your dad abandoned you, you may view God as unavailable. It makes complete sense.
This really hit me because just yesterday I sent my own dad a text with this message:
Hey Dad, …I want to tell you happy father’s day! …You have had a bigger impact on my life than you’ll ever know. Thank you so much for the gift of faith and for just being you.
When I was a really little kid, I can remember specifically wanting to marry somebody like my dad when I grew up. It was obvious that he and my mom were still so in love, and he always took us kids fishing and to the park and swimming in the summer and sledriding in the winter. Plus, we always went to church and prayed before meals.
When I was in high school, my parents each went on a Cursillo, which is a Catholic retreat based on letting the Holy Spirit lead you to a closer relationship with God. After they got back, I thought they were a bit strange because they were talking about God all the time and praying spontaneous prayers at other times than before meals. What was that about?
A year or two later, at the encouragement of both my parents, I went on a Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) retreat, which is similar to Cursillo, except geared more toward young people. I came home from TEC on a “faith high” and felt like I could conquer the world and all the bad things in it just with my new found faith. Although the real world can sometimes disillusion you after a retreat like that, I had so much support at home and felt comfortable and excited to talk about my experiences with my family.
A few months later, a few of my good friends made the same TEC retreat. One friend had a wonderful time on the retreat and seemed to have developed a real relationship with Christ, but her parents said she was “weird” when she came back, so she never made another of these retreats again. That was the first time my teenage brain registered that what our parents think has an incredible impact on our actions, feelings, and relationships.
I went back to feeling like I really wanted to marry someone like my dad, and being forever grateful that my dad and I have a great relationship that has impacted my faith so much.
Fast forward 12 years to today – I AM married to man much like my father… in obvious ways like they both do construction work and kind of look alike (Creepy, I know). But more importantly, they are both excellent, involved fathers, loving husbands, and live their faith in God every day. It’s easy for me to have a wonderful relationship with Christ because of these men.
Thank you, heavenly Father, for the gifts of my dad and my husband.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there, especially Dad and Tyler!