When Our Fathers Weren’t Good Fathers

For Christians in recovery, Father’s Day might not be an easy holiday to celebrate. As addicts, many of us had fraught relationships with our families in general, and often our fathers in particular. Some of us may be estranged from our fathers to this day. Others continue to have contact with their dads but harbor resentment and anger close to the surface.

When we look back on our relationships with our fathers, many of us feel some combination of mistreatment, abuse and abandonment. We can see that these may have even been some of the contributing factors in our addiction. There was a pain we had to escape.

The God-Dad Connection

The Bible refers to God as our Father. But for those of us who had such damaged fathers, this can be a hard analogy to draw. How can we trust this Father, when our own fathers may have been dysfunctional, abusive or completely absent? To us, the father figure image is warped. It hardly brings a sense of peace or comfort.

For this reason, many of us have had a hard time trusting God. We have in our minds the image of a man who is difficult, distant or even frightening. How can we draw near to this Father, when drawing near to our earthly father brought such risk?

I Have Made You I Will Carry You - Christian Drug RehabIf this describes how you feel when you think of God, know that you are not alone. Many Christians feel exactly as you do. Those who have had, and continue to have, challenging relationships with their earthly fathers will often struggle in figuring out what it means to trust God. They will perceive judgment, disfavor and a lack of grace because that’s what they were used to experiencing from their own fathers.

It may seem silly that we so easily confuse our sinful, human, earthly fathers with the Almighty Creator and God of the Universe. Certainly we know that God is infallible, that He is love, that He gave His Son to ensure our salvation and that we can trust Him in all things. Although we know these things, it can be hard to believe them in a way that affects our lives.

How can we begin to know and trust God as our Father?

How To Begin To Know And Trust God As Our Father

Understand Everything You Can About God The Father

In order to know God as the good Father that He is, we have to know Him as He has expressed Himself in the Bible. When we look to our own fathers to give us a picture of what a father should be, we are looking to a faulty model. Instead, go to the source, the ultimate Father. God reveals His fatherly nature in the pages of Scripture.

As you read about God as Father, meditate on the verses. Get a picture of this God and pray that He would help you to see Him as He is. Pray that you would leave behind your old conceptions of what a father says or does and that you would begin to know and trust the true and compassionate Father you have in God.

Forgive Dad

Many of us are carrying years of resentment and even hatred toward our imperfect earthly fathers. While we might have good reason to do so, this will stand in the way of our relationship with our Heavenly Father and it stands in the way of our recovery.

For this reason, the 12-step program puts a heavy focus on the personal inventory and amends process. This is our opportunity to finally work through all of the resentments and hurts and come to a place of forgiveness. This doesn’t absolve your dad of his wrongs, but it does allow you to make peace with them so you can move on.

Be Patient With The Process

Decades of hurt are not healed overnight, nor are our minds and hearts changed after a few pages of Bible reading. These patterns were formed at a very young and impressionable age and are not immediately reversed. That said, we have great hope of healing, recovery and restoration. God has the power to work rapid changes in the heart that would otherwise take years.

This process takes courage. It means digging into some of the deepest and most painful corners of your being. But be assured that it brings good fruit.

You can heal from the hurts caused by your earthly father, and you can know God as the gracious and loving heavenly Father that he is.