What a “Father” God Looks Like to Me

My highest “score” on spiritual gift inventories is always the gift of “faith.” That’s seems a little silly; don’t we all have that gift? In my case, the spiritual gift of faith shows up in my decision-making: I trust God and act on that trust with strong confidence.

Why am I the way I am?

Many of us grew up with language for God that was by default “male” and leaned especially on the metaphor of “Father”. This is, of course, why I have been writing for years about the mothering actions of God, which have been so often overlooked. But growing up with a “Father God” image didn’t mess me up then, nor does it pressure me to experience any guilt over the mothering God imagery I bring up now, because my dad is who he is.

My dad is constant, in all the best senses of that word according to an introvert (me!). He is dependable without calling attention to himself, level-headed and with an unflappable attitude about getting it done, whatever “it” is that needs doing. He doesn’t take big risks; he is easily the least overtly emotional or dramatic one among us. He shows us his love for us by being reliably calm and practical.

I remember a time when I did not get chosen for a select group to perform in a holiday program at school, and I was bereft. My mom took me down to our finished basement where Dad was working on something, for him “to talk to me”. I don’t remember what he said, but that I was assured it was not, in fact, the end of the world. I remember being upset that he wasn’t upset about it, and that he made no moves to fix the situation that was obviously (to me) so unfair. I learned: Sometimes we are not the chosen ones; maybe it is someone else’s turn this time.

One way I know that “Father God” imagery has influenced me is that the actions of God I am most comfortable with resemble my own father’s ways of being. I am not drawn to healing miracles or a triumphant, all-powerful God. I’m not drawn – not even in a curious, fearful way – to a threatening God of vengeance or a fickle God whom we have to try to please. One can definitely find God acting those ways in the Bible, but the God I know and love is like my own dad: who I know will be there to speak to me calmly, when all I can do is gasp for air through sobs.

2 thoughts on “What a “Father” God Looks Like to Me”

  1. Lovely words written about your father and a very fine example of marriage as a partnership! When mom tries her best to reassure and then turns to her right-hand-man for his dependable, confident guidance. That is God in dual action!

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  2. What a wonderful way of thinking of your Dad. I remember that time very clearly. As soon as you saw me you burst into tears on your walk home much as Greta does. I had words with the teacher. I thought everyone should be included not a select group. Yes, I wanted a stable rock in my life no drama and your Dad is it. We are blessed. Love, Mom

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