Q: My whole life I have been abused either by my dad or another male figure. When I think of God as father, it does not comfort me. This makes it hard for me to trust God. Any thoughts?
A: You are not alone in this struggle.
I experienced the same conflict in finding comfort with the word father when applied to God. Through prayer, a mentor of mine sensed that something was holding me back from spiritual and occupational growth in my chosen field of Life Coaching and asked me to pray about it.
As I listened for God’s message, the root of the problem became clear. The words father and fatherhood created anguish within me because my human experience of father suggested a vindictive authority, one who could be intimidating and trample on my self-esteem.
But, I knew that this wasn’t the nature of God or the ideal of true fatherhood. I continued in prayer to free myself from the negative reaction I felt from these words.
First I focused on the phrases I found in the Bible that defined God’s nature. Among them are Shepherd, Love, Light and Mother, each synonym uniquely giving a clearer picture of God.
The second, and more arduous battle, was to redefine my perception of what fatherhood truly encompassed. I searched to understand the qualities that exemplified true fatherhood and found God’s attributes to include protection for all his children as found in the beatitudes, safety measures for a good life as found in the Ten Commandments and strength and care through prayer.