Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Perfect Father

Today's at church, Matt talked about God, the Perfect Father. He talked about how our fathers can damage our picture of who God is and that although fathers are meant to be a representation of God to their children, they are flawed, and so it's like looking into a cracked, dirty mirror for a picture. The good news is that God is NOT a reflection of our fathers, he is the perfection of fatherhood. He is pure in motive, in love, in deed. He listens and understands as no one else can. He accepts us unconditionally and without expectation, and he completes us. He loves us and blesses us and says "I'm so glad you are MINE!"

If you have a flawed father (and who doesn't) it should be a huge relief to know that that isn't what God is like. If your father is cold, unforgiving, cutting, cruel, abusive, neglectful, absent, passive, unfeeling, uncaring, busy, demanding, or withholding, you will look at God and expect him to be the same. My dad, bless his heart, has been an insulin dependant diabetic since he was a teenager. While I was growing up, in addition to the flaws he brought to the role based on his relationship or lack of same with his father, in addition to his own personality flaws, insecurities and extraordinary expectations, he had personality disorders caused by blood sugar issues. At dinner time he was usually quite irritable until his blood sugar stabilized. Dinner time, er...difficult.

Well, I don't want to go into my dad's shortcomings here. It would be really unkind. Suffice it to say that I know he's feeling better when he begins insulting me or saying hurtful things about me publicly. He doesn't mean to, and perhaps doesn't really understand how these things hurt me, and besides, I am a far from perfect parent and should probably not "throw the first stone".

The point is, that I have great pains, neurosis, difficulties and ideas and fears about God that interfere with a clear picture of who he is. I have a hard time believing that He accepts ME! Oh, sure everyone else, but my behavior would keep me from being accepted. I can't meet the standard.

But recently I have begun to see that all along, God had provided me with surrogate dads who had qualities that my dad could not express. Jack Boucher and Bob Holli both gave me unconditional acceptance and the feeling that they were proud of me. Dad never had that growing up and could not give it to me. I have trouble expressing unconditional approval and acceptance to my children. I wish it were not so.

However, looking to Jack and Bob, I have examples for what that looks and feels like. And in their example I can see glimpses of God as Father that provide me a less cloudy view.

Matt talked about how children raised by a particular kind of Father have trouble connecting with people, and I confess that as much as I love people I feel rather disconnected at all times. It was all I could do not to cry. I have often wondered what flaw in my being makes me incapable of that connection. If that flaw, that broken spot in me, is due to nurture, then can't the nurture of God heal that? Can't he tear down the wall that separates me from others?

This disconnection is what makes me a writer. My natural detachment allows me to watch and observe in ways that many people don't. It does bother me, though. I wonder if other people are aware of the wall.

I withhold parts of myself because I doubt that anyone could really love the lazy, nervous, sad, sarcastic, willful, horrid parts of me. After all, I don't love those parts of me. I am disgusted by those parts. The horror of FM is that I have to fight my innate laziness, and sometimes the pain is so restricting it feels like giving in to the laziness. I am often not sure if I should push harder than I do. Am I giving in or taking reasonable precautions? Do I feel the pain more intensely than it really is as an excuse for laziness?

Anyway, that was a bit off subject, but as I could never meet the expectations of my Father, I am plagued with self-doubt. Does this have to be? Ah, no. but I'm afraid that even when we have overcome our past doubts and difficulties, they remain weak spots, and like scars that are fully healed, still the sight or even the touch brings back phantom pains. Else why would a person who has long since given up smoking return to the habit? After a few days the physical addiction is gone, but for many there remains a weakness that is purely mental.

And so it is with my doubts. I've never been 100% free of them, but I am getting better. Mental discipline and scripture are the key. Take every thought captive, and all of that. make a long story short (too late!) I have decided to do my level best to see in my father all the traits that I always longed for. I have decided that when we get to heaven and our sin-scarred selves are burnt away, that we will be seen for traits we had but did not know how to show. My father, I am convinced, is a kind, loving, and gentle man. Were he capable of understanding the effect his words have on his children he would monitor them more closely and would express his love in the ways each of us want to hear. So I am determined to treat him as if he were already expressing himself that way. I am working on this and so I am flawed in the execution, but this is the goal.

May I spend time with my HEAVENLY Father, learning what the perfect father is really like, and may that affect the way I treat others, including my parents, my husband, my kids, my friends, neighbors, fellow students, teachers, fellow churchmembers, pastors and the people at the checkout counter. And may you choose to see me as perfect and complete--the way I will be in heaven when the reflection of my Father God is clear.

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