Finding My Father’s Love
It was the summer of 1987. My personal life was clicking on all cylinders. Happily married. Two healthy kids with one on the way. A nice house. A successful business.
I appeared to have my spiritual life in order. I read my Bible. Prayed. Did morning devotions. Had my family in church every Sunday. Went to Bible studies. Served on church committees. Sang in the choir. And my number one prayer request—which I had brought to God literally thousands of times since my early childhood—had at last been granted. My dad, after being a raging, abusive alcoholic for years, was sober. I finally had the relationship with him that I longed for from the time I was a toddler. I should have been on cloud nine. So why was I so miserable?
I felt stressed and overwhelmed all the time. I was having stomach problems and found it hard to eat. I had trouble sleeping. Then came the panic attacks and, eventually, periods of depression. And God was nowhere to be found. I continued to force myself to pray in hopes that He might be listening but it was as if my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling. I felt no peace. No joy. No hope. And there seemed to be no reason for it. It was as if my soul was mired in quick sand. The harder I tried to get out, the deeper I sank.
One day I was out on a bike ride trying to make sense of it all when I passed a church down the street from our house. I saw the pastor’s car in the parking lot and something told me to stop. I knew I needed to talk to someone. I also know that couldn’t be my own pastor because then I would have to admit that I wasn’t the model Christian I was pretending to be.
I gave him a thumbnail sketch of my actual spiritual state. I told him that, as desperately as I desired closeness with God, I was beginning to believe that God wasn’t all that interested in being close to me. It seemed He was a million miles away.
After patiently listening to my truth, the pastor asked a question that, at first, seemed unrelated to my dilemma. He asked, “When you pray, how do address God?”
I shrugged my shoulders and answered, “Father.”
He then asked a question that changed the trajectory of my life. He asked, “What does that word ‘father’ mean to you?”
I could feel an immediate surge of angst come over my body. My pulse rate doubled and face reddened as years of repressed memories stormed to the surface.
Reining in my anger as best I could I shot back, “Do you want to know what that word ‘father’ means to me? A father is someone who is never there for you, someone you can’t trust, someone who is always angry, someone you can never please. A father is someone who says he loves you but never shows it.”
I could tell by the look on his face that the pastor wasn’t expecting such a volatile response. But he leaned forward in his chair, kindly smiled, and said, “I’m not sure I would want to pray to a God like that either.”
That’s when the light bulb went on. That explained the disconnect with God. I had projected my earthly father onto my Heavenly Father. I was viewing God through the distorted lens of my dad.
That follow-up question sent me on a spiritual quest to find out who my Heavenly Father really is. The first, albeit most important step in the process, was coming to the realization that no matter how hard I tried, what with all my religious activity, I could never have a close, intimate relationship with a Father I was afraid of, who I didn’t trust, who didn’t really care about my life.
I had to erase the lies I’d come to believe and replace them with truth.
It’s been a wonderful journey—in the true sense of the word. I seem to discover new things about my Father every day. I have finally found peace and joy and hope in Him. I now have the close, intimate Father/son relationship that I’ve always longed for. I have come to see Him for who He really is:
- A Father who loves to spend time with His kids.
- A Father who is always there for me.
- A Father who will never break a promise.
- A Father who sees me and accepts me as I am.
- A Father who loves me more than I could ever comprehend.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! –I John 3:1a, NIV
By Dan Kuiper
Dan completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009. He is an author and speaker and leads a ministry called, Finding Father’s Love which helps wounded souls find love, healing, and grace in relationship with the Heavenly Father. Dan’s first book, When Father is a Bad Word, illustrates the parallels between our relationship with our earthly father and our perception of our Heavenly Father. Dan leads Finding Father’s Love Seminars across the country, offering hope and healing to those who have experienced brokenness from dysfunctional family relationships. More information can be found on Dan’s website: www.dankuiper.com