Your first impression of God was formed by your father.
That’s a heavy statement packed with loads of feelings and questions. And your relationship with your dad deserves unpacking.
Let’s talk through this together. Listen in as Josh and Kit discuss how your relationship with your father impacts both your relationships with the men in your life and your relationship with God.
Facing the good as well as the bad of this fundamental relationship is an essential piece of your “becoming whole.”
Kids are like wet cement. And what we experience begins to be formed or begins to be a forming agent for the cement and as we grow up it dries and hardens.
Our earthly dads are created by God to give us our first sense of what it really means to relate with God.
I was looking and thinking well if that’s what it means to be a man then I don’t want to be that I don’t want to do that
What did you NEED to hear from your Dad?
What similarities do you see between your impression of God and your connection to your dad?
One of my favorite ways that Jesus shows us the heart of our Heavenly Father is in the story of Lazarus. Jesus is crying for the loss of his friend Lazarus, for the grief around him. And as he is walking towards the tomb, to call Lazarus out from the dead; he stops and says, “Father I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here…” Jesus takes the time to show us the heart of our Heavenly Father. What does this small scene tell you about God?
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
So throughout the scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments, God is referred to as a father. And I think that’s because our earthly dads are created by God to give us our first sense of what it really means to relate with God. Or another way of saying that is that is that when God created human beings in their image, one of the images that he implanted into people, especially into men was this this kind of how God is like a father to us.
So that means that the dads aren’t optional for healthy and whole development for their kids. If we want to become holy, the men and women that God created us to be, we need to actually reckon with what we actually received and didn’t receive from earthly dads. And we need to do that so that we can allow our father guide into those places where you can know Him better. We’re gonna talk about that in this podcast. So I thought maybe we just begin by sharing a little bit about our own experience with our dads. We’re not trying to throw them under the bus in any way. We love our dads a lot, but it was a little bit of your experience with your dad, as you were growing up.
Well, it was a significant relationship and some pretty difficult ways. But then in some really restorative ways to growing up. He was pretty he was really was kind of non existent. He traveled a lot. And when he was around, he wasn’t emotionally available. A little bit later in life. He was an alcoholic, and he drank a lot. So I was really scared of him and just kept my distance. He ultimately, you know, he he became well and we were able to connect in a different way. But it was a long, very impactful relationship for me.
You know, and I can relate with some of that. I know my
My Dad, I’ve always been enamored of my dad, I love him dearly. And there’s so many things about who I am. I can see see him in me. He’s a deeply deep feeler and and, and loves to get close to people. And he’s artistic. So, but he also he and my mom divorced when I was really little. And so I spent a lot of my childhood apart from him and my experience of that. I know there’s more to the story, that’s my experience was he left. And so he left me. And that was it was a deeply significant experience that I had of my dad, I wouldn’t have articulated that way growing up, but, but it was in there. I learned about it much, much later.
My dad also is a couple of things about him and he knows these things. And actually, when he’s all about him too, as he continues to grow, but he had a temper growing up and, and verbally I remember just like, you know, he raised his voice and it was, It scared me. I was a pretty sensitive kid. And he also is it was a really hard worker. It’s a good thing about him. But but there are times where he was I’d say he’s a workaholic. And, and so even when we were with him, I think there were times where that seemed to be a more important thing. So anyway, I know those things have deeply impacted me. And we’re going to talk more about how dads impact us. But I can say unequivocally, and I wonder if the women that you meet with would say this too, but in the men that I meet with, I can’t think of any one of them. Who a did not want a deeply satisfying relationship with their dads and be didn’t experience some deep wounds and disappointments from their dads. Yeah, absolutely. Would you say that’s true?
Absolutely. It’s it’s a extremely significant relationship to us as our mothers but fathers play a very unique role. And, and there are often a lot of interesting repercussions from how we live that out in our life. Yeah, for sure.
For sure. And I know now as as a dad, being a dad is a it’s a, it’s awesome. And it’s really hard sometimes so much harder than you could ever imagine. Right? Yeah.
So as we dive into talking about are these relationship dads like maybe one place to begin is by is by talking about like, if dads are put in our lives to be to be a kind of a foundational thing from God for our good. Then what are the things that a dad brings to their kids? Like it’s it is our belief, our firm belief as a ministry? I think the scripture bears this out that that mom and dad really, because they’re made God’s image, they’re meant to give us some initial sense of a lot of things in life. And I think the dad has has some unique places in that so for me, I’d say that there
Like these are some of the things I think about that a dad is meant to give. I think I think a dad in a unique way gives his kids a sense of identity. I think he also gives them a sense of agency meaning like, can they do it or not? I think a dad has a special role to play when it comes to a kid growing up to feel like you know what, I can make decisions and I can make things happen. I think a dad also has a unique in a unique way brings a sense of security for his kids. Initially, that’s even just in his strength, his presence might also be on some level, his His provision for the family. Mom does some of these things also in her own way, but the two that really stand out to me that I hope we can get into today. One is that a dad gives us our initial and primary sense, maybe even our most visceral sense of what, what men are like. So he’s kind of an archetype of what it means to be a man. And so if you’re a little girl, I’ll let you speak to that kid. But if you’re a little boy, it means that that dad both gives you a sense of like, what’s going to be like really
To men, and also what am I going to be like when I get older? Yeah. So what would you say kid? Like? What is it in that area of like, what men are like, what role does dad play for girls?
Oh, wow, it’s such a big question. I think one of the things that I have seen in myself and have learned and see this in clients as well, that there’s this unpacking of how the father relationship in really did affect how I see men, and there’s layers and layers of it. And so I’m continuing to learn about it. But one thing I know for sure is that my dad was a powerful man. It was a big man. He was confident and, and sometimes aggressive. And so I found myself really just trusting any man that was like that.
And so I didn’t want to be around
men that were aggressive or that we’re in any way like he tended to be a little condescending sometimes when he wasn’t well, and I do want to be a caveat that he eventually got well, and he was a really, really a good debt. But there were those growing up years, he was aggressive and, and I didn’t feel safe at all. And so I found myself feeling unsafe around a lot of men, especially if they were strong and kind of a big a big person. So, you know, that affected a lot of who I dated and what I was drawn to. And, you know, in some complicated ways,
know, maybe would be helpful even to take a step back as we’re talking about this. Like I part of what we’re saying is we’re approaching this as these aren’t, this is not like intellectual connections. It’s not like we go, oh, let’s see, you know, five years old, I’m looking at my dad and going, let’s see, my dad is 2000 miles away. And so therefore, you know, x, y and z are true about men and I like that or don’t like that kind of pursued to be like that or not like that. It’s it’s more like kids Like wet cement, yeah, what we experience begins to be formed or begins to be a form of forming agent for the cement. And as we grow up, it dries and hardens, and we find ourselves having having a certain relational or emotional or, or mental kind of topography. That’s, that’s been informed by our relationships with with our father. And so, yeah, I think part of what you’re describing is like, not that you as a little girl, we’re kind of making some of those decisions in a real cognitive way. But, but you’re left with your dad kind of influenced your sense and so as you related to other men as you got older, yeah, there’s a there’s a way that you did it. Yeah. I only know it’s I was gonna say the same thing. Like I it’s just absolutely true, like so. I think that there are ways like so I essentially I think for me, like some of the faults that I experienced that were four formative for me. I think I I felt them and I felt the pain of them as I go. up. And so one of things I did is I, I began making vows like, I’m not going to do that, like I’m going to get, I’m never going to be apart from my kids, I’m going to be the best dad ever. I’m going to listen that. But I really didn’t know what I was talking about. So I know that the desires were good, but it’s almost like, I kind of took the things that were forming in me and tried to flip them over on themselves, which had its own pitfalls. I think along the way, like I was, I ended up being really afraid of relationships with girls, because I was like, I knew I didn’t, I didn’t want to ever get divorced. And so I kind of flipped the whole thing on its head and ended up just like staying away from relationships to girls until I got much older and began getting some healing. I was like, Oh, I see what I’m doing here. So, does that make sense?
Yeah, absolutely. I think what you’re describing is that you know, these things that we do experience as a child over time, it really is helpful to unpack them. You know, it really is, it’s really, really important. To understand how we reacted to our, to our dads growing up, how that impacted how we live, and how, you know, we can we can find help with that too, you know, it’s a very significant relationship.
So I, we were kind of talking about that our dad gives us that first deep sense of what men are like, including what I’m going to be like if we’re a little boy. And so I think that, that if I were to put what I just described into into that language, I’d say, you know, I was looking up and going like, well, if that’s what it means to be a man like that, I don’t want to be that I don’t want to do that. And not that I didn’t want to be a man. I just I was I was kind of, you know, working against what I was saying in that way. And just that one specific area, so it wasn’t wasn’t always but yeah, the thing I didn’t say that I think that that a father brings to his kids is a deep sense. Again, not this isn’t necessarily cognitive connection that kids make. But I think it’s a subconscious unconscious thing. They experience a deep sense of what, what God is like. Mm hmm. And so it’s not coincidence that God refers himself as father. But I do think in some even primal way, it’s in our DNA that that we almost expect God to relate with us the way that our father related with us. Yeah. Have you found that to be true in your life or in the lives of women, you’re working with a connection between religion with Father and how they relate with or think about God?
So, so true. I mean, I think that to some degree, everybody thinks about their, their, you know, their Heavenly Father as it relates to their earthly father and if their earthly father was, you know, intimidating or unsafe, they feel very unsafe with God and it and it is a it’s a challenge to get over that. I certainly felt like that i i wanted God to be a safe place because I needed to see Place, but I wasn’t sure that he would be because of my relationship with my dad. And even a client that I have. Last year, I remember having a very deep conversation with her about this. And it was a it was a huge struggle. It took a very long time, because her dad was very aggressive and very hurtful to her over a long period of time. And so it’s It has been a long time of healing for her to trust God, to not feel like he wasn’t safe. So that’s it’s a key. It’s a very significant part of, of, of healing.
Yeah. And I can think, you know, so for me, one of my greatest struggles in life relationship, God has been the feeling and the fear that he’s going to leave. And even I remember at one point in college, I was mentoring a younger student that we met in the Student Center and we’re having a cup of coffee or something and he expressed some fears of God. not forgiving him and leaving. And I remember telling him like I pulled out scripture and I was talking about God will never leave you or forsake you. And you have to worry about that God’s committed to you data. And I remember getting up and leaving. And as I walked out of the students that I remember having this thought, I wish I could believe that and it was just kind of this this moment of honesty in my own soul, like, gosh, I really do struggle to believe that God’s not gonna leave and so over and over again, it’s I’ve had, you know, these moments of like, not feeling God present. I’ve had to, like, I find myself kind of almost almost in panicky like God, where did you go and, and that’s been an area where I’ve needed, needed healing and, and continue to walk with the Lord and in developing a greater capacity to trust that, that when he’s silent, or when I’m not aware of what he’s doing, he’s actually still very present.
Isn’t it interesting how God uses these experiences that are difficult in our life, to help us to help others because when you are expressing that I can only imagine the ways that because you have experienced some of your own challenges, you can have compassion, empathy, and mercy in some of your conversations with men. And I find that true with women, like, you know, I have a client who’s many clients, actually several clients that are really struggling with some of their father, the relationship with their father. And I find that, that God helps me through what he’s imparted to me. And through some of the healing, I feel very deeply for their pain. And I can enter into it with them that like, Oh, yeah, I read about that. But I can be like, I know what that feels like. Yeah,
yeah. I think God does want to be there for you. You know? Yeah, shoot
for that. Absolutely. And we should also say like, you know, No, dad is perfect and no knives up to that kind of image of God.
we we live in a fallen world. Yes to mention our own dads have their experience with their dads. experience was their dads. And
just like you, just like you said, being a parent is so hard. And now that I am one, I agree, it is so much better than you could ever imagine. And it was hard for our parents. And they did in many ways they did the best they could and and it still, you know, has its its impact on us. But it’s, it’s hard.
Yeah. Yeah. So maybe maybe just a note about that. Like, you know, we’ve gotten to this conversation before with people who have who have said, Well hold on a second, like, No, I want to honor my mother and my father. That’s a commandment. And so how is this so cute? Let me let me just throw the question to you. How is being honest about or facing some of the real real experiences we’ve had our kids the reality of what we what we walked with, with our fathers. Can you do that and Honor your father at the same time?
I totally think so. Because it’s if you’re not saying Oh, my dad or my mom The only ones that you know, had issues like every mom and dad have issues, we all fall short of what God intended. And a part of our healing and a part of our understanding who God is and how we can restore that, you know, is a part of being honest about it, bringing it to light and letting God you know, do what only He can do.
Yeah, I’d say to the more that I’ve been willing to face wounds from my past with specific people and and move towards a place of healing, and we’re going to talk about that in a minute. The greater it, the easier it is, I should say, in the greater capacity have to actually honor those people.
well, yes. That’s so true. Josh, I’m really glad you said that. Yes.
So just real quickly, I mean, I think if you’re listening, just a couple areas that you might consider that might need some healing, in your own religion with your dad, certainly abuse. Like you know, abuse comes in different forms, and abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Those leave a mark, you know, and both literally and physically or and literally and figuratively. Absence also is is a form of wounding you, you know, God created you to have a mom and a dad. I mean, biologically That’s a fact. And so if your father was absent, then that means there were things that you needed from your father that you didn’t get. And with all the, you know, best intentions that he may have had, like their absence is significant. Some of you listening, it wasn’t that, you know, dad wasn’t there. by choice. It was maybe he passed away or something else happened, you really literally couldn’t be there. And so again, we’re not this isn’t about like assigning blame. It’s about like recognizing Where were you wounded in your relationship with your father and oftentimes, the places we get wounded the most are things that were unintentional It’s still worthwhile to acknowledge that. Yeah.
And you’d add to that Kit?
Well, I just, you know, again, looking at my own story or looking at clients that I work with, you know, I felt like my dad’s absence communicated to me that men leave or is emotional unavailability, you know, like, men don’t want to be with me or when my dad didn’t want to be with my mom, he didn’t want to be with me. And so there was this, you know, you can you can receive these things that are not truth. I mean, you know, that all men, you know, are gonna leave and all men don’t want to don’t don’t respect women. I mean, that was a big thing. I felt like I did not I did not think my dad was okay with with women and femininity, didn’t know what to do with it, didn’t respect it. So, you know, just to be aware of that and to be able to process that with God is so helpful and so important.
Yeah. The Christian you say that Like we could have approached this discussion the other way around and started talking about symptoms, you know, like, oh, here’s some things that might be playing out in your life. And if they are, it might be that you have some father wound or some father issues that haven’t been dealt with. And so I think about, you know, like, if you fear that God is is not going to be present to you, could it be possible that you felt like your father wasn’t present to you? Do you? Do you have fears around around men or feel uncomfortable then? Well, how did you feel around your father? I mentioned a sense of identity. Do you have a sense that you that you exist, that you matter, and who that is that you are, you have a sense of agency, a sense that you can make decisions and act upon those and make a difference in the world? Where, where there’s some kind of schism in relation with dad that can impact some of those areas. So yeah. So and I think we should probably say is that different kids will experience this differently. And so like, we are wired differently, I I mentioned that I was a sensitive kid, you know, I had one of my brothers is more of a rough and tumble guy. And I think that you can have two kids in the same house, you can have the same parents and experience those parents differently. And so some of some of what you get, quote unquote, from mom or dad is going to be a, you know, part partly attributed to like, how you receive.
that’s really huge, you know, and I think it’s important because people might be listening and being like, why I don’t feel that, you know, different people really are gonna respond differently to the same experience. And that’s why it’s important to be able to be honest and let it come to light and not try to be somebody else. But just be true to what what’s going on with you. Yeah.
All right. So let’s, let’s talk about healing. Let’s talk about, you know, I mean, this isn’t we don’t cover all this stuff, just to be wounded is Boethius, who said if you want to be healed exposure wounds. So we’ve talked about exposing the wound, how do we heal? And not to mention that that got we have a good father who is a healer, and he wants us to heal. And if he did give us our fathers, to represent Him, and to give us a sense of what he’s like, when that didn’t happen, he doesn’t just kind of, you know, wash hands, they Well, it stinks to be you, he actually wants us to begin to see him uh, right. And this is where I think about Jesus his words, when he said to his disciples, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. And I think his heart is that we would see the Father. And so one of the places we go is to Christ. So what comes to mind for you, when you think about healing from the Father from the father’s wound?
I was just thinking about, you know, we’ve talked about this before this idea of how suffering God doesn’t allow suffering in our lives to hurt us. It’s because it really ultimately helps us. So any of these things that we have, that we’ve experienced, that have been hard, are opportunities for us. You know, like, with Like, I feel like my relationship with God is stronger because of some of how I have been able to feel the pain, but also receive, you know, God’s love in the midst of that pain. And so I guess the hope really is that all these things that we experienced, we’re not just bringing them up to condemn our parents or to like you said, like, it’s an opportunity for healing. Every time we we talk about these things and bring it to God, His whole idea is to heal and to restore and to be that perfect parent for us.
Yeah, that’s beautiful.
Yeah, you know, what comes to mind, you’re saying that is just is Christ and his, his willingness to be wounded and to show us his wounds? Yeah. There’s an intimacy in some of the descriptions especially in the book of john I think in the in the closed places wounds, played in his disciples. knowing him better than knowing that he really had risen from the dead and just makes me wonder in some kind of body of christ mystical way if if our wounds don’t actually in some way open us and others up to the reality of the presence of the father the love of the Father. Yeah, because of what Christ has done. I would say imbedded in what you were talking about, there is maybe the first step for a lot of people is just acknowledging the wounds that they actually experienced, acknowledging the places where they had needs that weren’t met by their parents by their by their father especially. You know, not not blaming like you said, but but really just letting it be like naming it maybe naming with it with a trusted other. One of the exercises that that somebody led me through we used to deal with one of our groups here years ago is we talked about relation with Father and the way that was supposed to be and some things we talked about today. And then we put up on the on the wall, some big pieces of paper and get a marker We ask the question to the group What did you need to hear from your father growing up? Yeah. What did you need to hear? What did you want to hear from dad? And man some of the stuff that would come up just you could just hear the the pain in people’s expressions you know some sometimes the words were simply like, um, you know, I love you I never heard my dad say I love you Not once. Yeah. People would say things like I see you. Sometimes you would say like, I didn’t need to hear anything from my dad. I heard all sorts of things I needed him to follow through I needed him to show up. But so for for listeners, one place to begin for you might just be that question. Just sit down with a pen and paper and journal in a safe place and like, you know, what did you need to hear from your dad? What did you really want to hear? And maybe not just what did you but what do you want to hear from your dad? And again, it’s not this isn’t about like, you know, condemning your dad. It’s about recognizing what your own heart has experienced and how that might be playing out in your relationship with with God and others today.
And, you know, there is it’s a spiritual practice to lament, you know, the Psalms are all about it. It’s a beautiful way to take what’s been, you know, beauty from ashes, you know, to take what has been broken and difficult and, and actually bring it to God you know so it’s not just about you sitting down with a pen and paper it’s about you allowing God into those places where he can do amazing amazing things in your relationship with God can be deepened and changed through it.
It’s so good kit right in right in the middle of that is is is the reality that we weren’t wounded in a vacuum. You know, the wounds didn’t come from no one they came from someone and so the healing also is going to come from someone or some people. And so I love what you’re describing that This is an old mentor of mine, Jeff Johnson used to say said we we grieve, so that we can be comforted. And I think that’s it’s not just for grief sake, it’s so we can be covered in comfort comes from somebody. Yeah. Especially as we didn’t That’s beautiful. And I would say to like, you know, we start by saying like, Hey look, you really showed your dad is impacted how you experience God, how you how you’re open to him, you might need help from somebody else in this and that’s why I think we’re listening, healing prayer, spiritual coaching, a good pastor, good friend, somebody who can help you even to trust that God is going to show up in the places where you where your dad didn’t or he’s going to speak differently to you than your dad did. Sometimes we can kind of, it’s almost like we hear the voice of God through this, this bullhorn that really is our past experience as opposed to healing hearing him as he really is.
I’ve had the privilege of many experiences in guided prayer, listening, healing from Prayer where someone has named and grieved these places and then during a time of prayer has allowed God has allowed Jesus to meet her. And it’s sacred.
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s and it’s sacred because both because it because you’re being led into a really intimate place intimate moment. It’s also sacred. I mean, that’s what words your mouth but from my experience with this too, it’s sacred because God’s not kidding around. He says that he’s a father. Yes, he’s like, no, I really am your father like yes. Yeah. And, and all the good that that means like it’s for real. Yes.
And people don’t can’t muster this up when they are when their hearts are touched by the Spirit of God and that Father love that unconditional love you do not play act this This is something that happens deep, deep, deep in your soul and in your spirit.
Yeah. I’ve been with people who the sobs that come up. Yes. Come from really, really deep place. Yeah. And I’ve experienced that myself. And so I’ve been really good. I think the last thing I’d say and all this, and this maybe is the capstone on it is just how important it is to forgive your earthly father. So you acknowledge the ways they’ve wounded, acknowledge the things they didn’t, they didn’t say or do, it’s really important to get to a place where you forgive them. And actually, I’d say, you know, we’re not trying to offer a formula like, I think the forgiveness can actually, in many ways, serve as a as a kind of a removing a blockage to receiving some of the good that the Father, the Father God has for you like, forgiveness is kind of like it really I don’t know, it’s kind of it’s, it seems to me, it’s kind of like taking a stopper in shoving it into a wound so that the wound won’t hurt as much anymore won’t make you as vulnerable anymore. And maybe even, you know, putting it in there. So in some ways you’re trying to hurt back the person who hurt you. But I think when we forgive, we remove that stopper, which is a vulnerable thing to do. It doesn’t mean trusting the person, again, are things like that, but I think it does, then sometimes open the pipes, if you will, for God to pour in the good love that he’s he’s been wanting to give you like, so another way of thinking about is like, um, you know, if I hold unforgiveness towards my earthly father, it may mean that there are ways that I’ve stopped myself from receiving from my Heavenly Father things that he wants to know. So yeah, no, no to Father, you know,
so I have this picture in my mind when you describe that of myself standing with my arms folded, you know, this closed up, and, you know, it’s even God can have a hard time aren’t open, you know, like he’s always willing, but, but if I imagined myself opening my arms up With within forgiveness, like in letting it go and bringing it to light, that’s when he can come in, you know, and, and reach me in ways that he couldn’t if I was all closed off.
Yeah, it’s beautiful. Yeah.
I think so much more we could say about that. And we’ll revisit this topic of father wounds and Father God in the future, because we know it is so big for people. We’ve covered a lot of territory here. But I’d like to close just by just by praying over all who are listening. I want to pray for you. But I also wanted to offer I want to offer a Father’s blessing over you. So if you’ll hang with us and to stay in a place of prayer, if you’re in a place where you can’t engage, maybe hit pause for a moment, come back to it because I know that our Father God really wants to do something. So. Father, you are good father, and your scripture say that you are the father from which all families in heaven and earth derive their name. So Lord, our earthly fathers are just there. They’re small f fathers are there They’re kind of like mini us. And they gave us good. And Lord in their own sin and struggles. They gave us things that weren’t so good and some things that really wounded us.
We pray for your mercy upon them.
What to pray for each person who’s listening? Is there an area where they are carrying around a father wound or an unmet need? That especially today, or you want to put your finger on, not to hurt them, to hurt their fathers, but to bring your healing or to your sons and your daughters? Lord, Jesus, you were the great iconic class, you changed our perspective forever, about what it meant that God is a father to us. When you showed us yourself, got every place that we expected you to beat us up or yell at us. Lord, we get the picture of the cross of you giving yourself to us Jesus, I pray that you would move quickly into those places where we have father wounds. You and the Father are One if we’ve seen you, we’ve seen the Father we know his heart towards us. So come in a very real way I pray to those listening. My brothers and sisters listening, in the name of Jesus, in the name of the Father and the Son of the Holy Spirit. I bless you with a Father’s blessing. You are a son or daughter. And that’s a good thing. And your heavenly Father delights in you loves you, desires to walk with you. I bless you to know His voice. Nobody looks like it sounds like it feels like because he cherishes you. And I pray all these things now, with faith in you and you alone, Jesus. Amen.
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