How to see God as a loving Father when an earthly father has failed to be a proper role model

    I have been thinking about this topic and a couple of threads/comments have mentioned it slightly, so here goes. It has also been a topic between a couple of friends and me, without really solving it. So, you all get a chance. I will mostly listen, as I don’t have answers, just curiosity! 

    If a girl grows up in a home, where the father is harsh, demanding, scary and the children can’t do much right, is there any way she can grow up still having the concept that God is loving and kind? If not, how does one get there? Does it affect all the children, or some worse than others? If so, why are some affected so badly?

    Can a person get there, and believe that God is actually a caring father, when the word ‘father’ is just a scary thing?

    In one case that I know of, the children are long gone from that home. Just the other day, the dad made a remark on how well behaved his children always were. Those children are well into adulthood, yet suffering from that very thing. They didn’t dare make a wrong move.

    Does it make a difference if the father held a greater position of authority?

    If a wife has grown up like that, what is the husband’s responsibility? From what I have seen, it seems like he has a great responsibility to be the man that her father wasn’t. But is that right? Can he provide what her father didn’t? 

    What if she has a great fear of all authority (other than her husband)? Can that ever be completely overcome and she actually can feel safe just knowing she’s in God’s care, when the father wasn’t a safe haven in her childhood home?

    I hope this makes sense and isn’t too much rambling!

     

    Under the stars Asked on January 8, 2020 in None of The Above.
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      Some of this will be rather hard for me to admit, but I think it will speak to the husbands ability to help heal wla womans heart in this case, and hopefully be an encouragement to others.
      My wife was raised by her stepfather, who was an alcoholic, and was physically and verbally abusive. He was a Vietnam veteran with undiagnosed/untreated PTSD. I don’t say that to excuse his behavior, but to just shed light on the struggles he faced himself. The irony was that both my wife and I were raised by alcoholic drill sergeants with PTSD.

      My wife learned to fear angry men from her father, and I learned to be one from mine. My own anger didn’t manigest itself until much later, and never physically, but I know there was an explosive quality to it that was likely very frightening.

      When I repented of my anger, and asked her forgiveness for it, I can only describe the transformation in our relationship as miraculous. She became “lighter and brighter” around me. I asked her once if she ever feared I would hit her, and she assured me that she didn’t, but I have no doubt that while she didn’t fear me, that I was a constant trigger, and kept her old wounds at the forefront of her subconscious.

      Maybe our case was the extreme, but I have no doubt that a husband can have a positive, or a negative effect in cases where the father was not what he should have been.

      On the floor Answered on January 8, 2020.

      Thanks for being brave and sharing!

      on January 8, 2020.

      This is beautiful, Doug. Thanks!

      on January 9, 2020.
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        No father is perfect. So, all of us can justifiably blame some of our problems on our Dads. But none of us are perfect either. So some of the fault lies with us too, doesn’t it?

        It becomes a matter of degree.

        Obviously, the degree to which “damage” is done by one’s father and the degree to which one can overcome such things are factors that vary from situation to situation.

        The only way I see for progress to be made is by experiencing and extending grace. Either we receive grace from God or some other responsible Christian in our lives so that we can move toward wholeness or we continue to suffer. And, if we learn to be gracious to those who have “harmed” us, we can move toward a place where we can have a new life (- though not without our scars). If we can experience these, I believe we can get to the point where we can see God as a loving Father.

        Under the stars Answered on January 8, 2020.

        So in a case like this, what do the scars look like? I hear about scars and how you can see them, but they no longer bother one. However, there are also scars that are healed, but they affect the body all its life. They are still noticed and felt.

        on January 9, 2020.
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          Thank you all for the time and effort you put into answering this. I am definitely thinking about it and will share it with my friends.

          Under the stars Answered on January 10, 2020.
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            If a girl grows up in a home, where the father is harsh, demanding, scary and the children can’t do much right, is there any way she can grow up still having the concept that God is loving and kind?  If not, how does one get there? Does it affect all the children, or some worse than others? If so, why are some affected so badly?  Can a person get there, and believe that God is actually a caring father, when the word ‘father’ is just a scary thing?

            It probably depends on each person and how they process it.  The worst is clearly when someone learns that father means all the opposite things that it should mean.  This makes it much harder for them to connect all the positive attributes that the bible makes about Father because this person has the opposite understanding/experience.  I think the person has to essentially take a real honest look at what their earthly father situation was, learn truth, and recognize where their father failed.  Once they see how their father failed, they can decouple the wrong ideas about father and begin to replace them with what a father should be, and what God is as Father.

            In one case that I know of, the children are long gone from that home. Just the other day, the dad made a remark on how well behaved his children always were. Those children are well into adulthood, yet suffering from that very thing. They didn’t dare make a wrong move.  Does it make a difference if the father held a greater position of authority?

            Children should respect their father and mother, but it is a balance of love, patience, and discipline.  One verse that always hits me about this is Colossians 3:21 (Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.).  Put differently, a child should feel some heartache (a reasonable amount) about doing something wrong, but at the same time they should know they are loved.  There has to be balance, it can’t be all love and no discipline, or all discipline and no love.

            If a wife has grown up like that, what is the husband’s responsibility? From what I have seen, it seems like he has a great responsibility to be the man that her father wasn’t. But is that right? Can he provide what her father didn’t?

            I think he should be that man (the husband God wants him to be) in either case, whether she had a Godly father or not.  Surely knowing her situation would put him in a better position to do this.  If he is being a Godly husband, he will be providing her what she needs as a wife, replacing any needs she had from her father in the process.  The hardship is that they may have to work through things to move from A to B, but getting to B and doing what is right should be the goal (effectively being healed from any damage from a father’s sin).

            What if she has a great fear of all authority (other than her husband)? Can that ever be completely overcome and she actually can feel safe just knowing she’s in God’s care, when the father wasn’t a safe haven in her childhood home?

            I think you are really on to something here.  It could even be that she fears her husband’s authority just because of her experience with other men or her father (or even the sin of her husband).  I think a fear of authority is rooted in a lack of trust, and trust is hard when your experience has been painful/unsafe.  As hard as this is, it needs to be worked through and put under the obedience of Jesus.  Your thought of knowing she is in God’s care and her having Faith is exactly what can free her and give her the trust, and confidence, and comfort in her husband’s authority, and authority beyond him.

            We also have to keep in mind that fathers, husbands, and wives are all sinners.

            Fell out of ... Answered on January 8, 2020.

            I am thinking about the situations where the father was mostly opposite of what a father should be, and holding a higher authority position as well.

            on January 9, 2020.

            I agree Brynna, the damage a bad/sinful father can do is terrible.

            on January 9, 2020.
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              The Father is patient, merciful, gracious, kind, good, and love. He knows each of us and is very personal and real. He made us a people of process and He takes us through the lifetime process of learning and changing so we will know who He is, one Name and character trait at a time. He will use other people, trials, afflictions and blessings to reveal more and more. He will break us, to make us whole. He will wound us, to heal us….but it’s all with the motive of love, all while He is right there with us, because He won’t leave us nor forsake us.. He will continue to hem us in, so that our belief in Him will grow and flourish. All we have to do is surrender, and have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to obey.

              Under the stars Answered on January 8, 2020.

              So do you think a person can just start thinking this way, when its opposite of what they learned from their dad?

              on January 9, 2020.

              Brynna in a word, yes. I had not only an abuse, authoritative (in the wrong way) step father but he sexually abused me which is the worst thing you can do to a child. The soul wounds are enormous.

              Becoming a born again believer gives you the biggest chance of healing. I am still a broken vessel with a traumatic past but i wanted to move past my current relationship with the Lord and i CHOSE TO believe God when He says He’s a loving Father. Even though i didn’t feel it at all or knew what that was like, i made a conscious decision to believe Him and not offend him by basically calling him a liar. There was a breakthrough in my walk with Him after that.  Not saying it is easy but God always rewards obedience and He really can’t move in unbelief, laying it down at the cross is the pathway to healing, healing at any level is better than staying stuck and having the enemy take advantage of it.  It’s like praising and worshiping when you are in the worst trial.

              on January 9, 2020.

              @Brynna, I believe we, as believers, can be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  SOA, gives an example of that.  Being in the Word, studying who Jesus is, because He said, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”, helps with that renewal.  We are given a new heart, we are a new creation, these show how Christ has changed us, and then we are given the Spirit to empower us, to teach us, counsel us, etc.  I personally believe this changing will be a work of the Spirit more than our own efforts, but we have a part to play, and that is to believe Him.  To “believe” Scripturally”, is not just a “mental consent”, but it’s “to trust, to rely, to depend upon God.  To fully put our weight upon.”  And when we know we struggle with unbelief, we have the wonderful example and prayer of the father in the gospel… “I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.”

              Again, it’s a process.  I can look back in my own life and share account after account on the ways and the times God was working in me, on me and with me, so that I would learn to truly believe He loves me, and that He wasn’t the kind of Father who was just waiting to crush me with “a test”.  And guess what…. most of these lessons came when I was the weakest.

              I have shared this quote my Stasi Eldredge from “Becoming Myself” more than once around TMB, and I have it written in the front of my Bible for a reason, but I believe it’s applicable here.  But first, “becoming” is the process of becoming the person who God created us to be.  The one we are becoming through sanctification.  The person God sees without sin, where we are whole.

              “Accelerating our “becoming” involves saying yes to God again and again and again.  It is not a posture of striving but of releasing.  It looks a lot more like yielding than pushing through to the next goal.  We collapse into Gods’life within us.  “Christ in me, help me.” becomes our prayer.  That is why He often brings us to the end of our ropes, the end of ourselves.  Because it is from there we turn from our striving and raise our arms in surrender to our God again to save us.  

              By faith, we turn to Him.  By faith, we choose to believe that He hears our prayers.  By faith, we believe He is good and is for us.  By faith, we trust that though we may not see it or feel it, God is at work in us and for us, Because He says He is.”

              on January 9, 2020.
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                I had a close friend who was abused by her father when he got drunk. Never would have guessed by the way he acted in public. She was attracted to men who abused her verbally. After two bad marriages she got counseling and last I saw her she had found some happiness and some normalcy to her sex life with her third husband.

                Double bed Answered on January 10, 2020.
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