As I shared in my last post, your intimacy with the cherishing Father enables you to more deeply and intimately cherish your family. But what if intimacy with God the Father is hard — maybe even seemingly impossible — for you because of the deep wounds you carry from your childhood and your painful relationship with your own human father? Or what if your father was absent and your feelings of abandonment are coloring your ability to trust in God? Or what if your mother abused or emotionally damaged you, rendering it extremely difficult for you to understand the nurturing parental love of God?
My friend from decades back — like when I was an adolescent! — Dan Kuiper has just written a powerful book called When Father is a Bad Word. Keep reading our conversation about how healing is possible. (And please consider sharing this interview with friends or loved ones who may be dealing with the emotional and spiritual pain of a deep father- or mother-wound.)
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I am the husband of one wife (one of God’s many good ideas) and am a father of three and grandfather of two. I am a speaker, writer, story teller, and conference facilitator. My first book, When Father is a Bad Word, was released earlier this year.
This month on my blog we’ve been discussing family life. One way we learn about family love is through the love of our heavenly Father. How has God’s character and fatherly love influenced the way you love your own family?
Since I began my journey toward discovering just who my Heavenly Father really is, the attribute of God that has stood out the most is His unconditional love. I still have trouble wrapping my little brain around that — that my Father in Heaven loves me completely, absolutely, and irrevocably.
Perhaps I still struggle with this from to time because the love we humans offer so often has strings attached. The non-verbal message we give, sometimes even to our own children, is, “I’ll love you if . . .” The Heavenly Father gave me a bit of an epiphany after my first grandchild was born. As I held that beautiful little boy in my arms, it struck me just how much love I had for him. And this despite the fact that he hadn’t done one thing to earn it. At that point, all he did was eat, sleep, and poop. Yet, my love for him was and is so deep that I would die for him. That’s how the Heavenly Father feels when He holds His kids in His arms. As I’ve been coming to grips with that love I have found it imperative to not just verbalize but demonstrate Father-like unconditional, unalterable, and unending love to my family.
For some, the topic of “family” is very painful because of the hurt they’ve experienced in their family growing up. You understand this struggle, don’t you?
Oh, my, yes. My father was an alcoholic. And if you know anything about alcoholism, you know that it is a family disease. A parent’s behavior will affect — either positively or negatively — every person in the home. Alcoholic family systems, in particular, produce children who judge themselves unmercifully, who live for the affirmation and approval of others, who have no idea what genuine love is, who are terrified of intimacy, who feel that they can never measure up, who live with a pervading sense of shame and a belief that they don’t matter. Continue reading