About this blog: Discussing religion, spirituality and values. About the writers: Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. Janet Marshall is the religion editor for The Free Lance-Star.
Children see God through the prism of earthly fatherhood
I absolutely love being the mama of three little girls. I cherish these days of fairy-tales and make believe, of princess dresses and pixie dust. But most of all, I love to watch the relationship my daughters have with their father. They really are the quintessential “daddy’s little girls.”
This past week, Steve invited each of them to join him on a daddy-daughter date night at Chick-Fil-A. They excitedly put on their best dresses and asked me to help make their hair look extra special.
I held my breathe as I watched each one of them twirl and ask, “Daddy, do I look pretty?” knowing all too well that his response had the power to make or break them.
“You look beautiful,” he responded. They beamed at their father’s words.
While watching them pull out of the driveway, I thought of my relationship with my own father. This week marks the 19th anniversary of his death, but I have lived much longer than that without him in my life.
His drug abuse and alcoholism kept him from being the father that I needed him to be. I am still haunted by the pain and emptiness that his absence caused.
Unfortunately, I am not alone in my pain. Thirty-nine percent of children in first through 12th grade live in homes where the biological fathers are absent. That equates to 17 million children across the United States who will go to bed tonight without a daddy to tuck them in.
Physical absence is not the only part of this equation. A father who is in the home, but who is not living up to his God given responsibility to cherish and protect can cause more harm than an absent father.
Because God reveals Himself to us as a father more than any other way in Scripture the way we relate with our own father has a huge impact on the way we relate to God. We tend to see God through the lens of our earthly fathers and for many of us that lens is scratched and broken.
This wrong view of God causes two responses—legalism or rebellion. Some of us are like my daughter who kept twirling for her daddy to get his approval and attention. Our days are spent in a dizzying frenzy of trying follow all the rules while doing good works to earn God’s affection.
On the other end of the spectrum is the person who says to themselves, “If God is like my father, I don’t want anything to do with Him.”
Many have said that fatherhood is under attack in this nation and I could not agree more. I believe the root of that attack comes from the enemy of our very soul—Satan.
In 1 Peter 5:8, we read that he prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
There are few more effective ways to keep someone from coming to God than to attack the institution through which He has chosen to reveal Himself—fatherhood.
Fortunately, we are not defenseless against this attack. Paul encourages us in the book Ephesians to “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
One piece of this “armor” is the The Belt of Truth. God’s ultimate truth, the Bible, protects us from Satan, the father of lies. When we read the Bible, God’s true character replaces our warped understanding of who He is based on our personal experiences.
Paul closes out this familiar passage by telling us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Wives, we need to pray that the Lord will help our husbands to be all that He created them to be. Mothers, we need to pray for the boys our daughters will grow up to marry and the men our sons will become.
Dads, pray that God will give you the strength, wisdom and love required to be the father your children so desperately need.
For those of you who share the pain that a broken father-child relationship can cause, it is time to stop running from God or dancing for His approval. Instead, rest in knowing that we have a father in heaven who loves us more than our damaged hearts could ever imagine. He is not a reflection of our earthly father, He is the perfection of our earthly father.
Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website, www.heatherablondi.com.