My Parents My God
Author A. W. Tozer reminds us how the image of God we hold “in our hearts” impacts our lives. He says, “We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our image of God.” The following are some of the ways we are affected when we have a faulty image of God.
First, we may be unable to trust God. Phillips explains how in the inner core of our being we are made to trust a good character and distrust a bad one. “If you see God as a despot or a tyrant,” Phillips asks, “how can you give yourself to him? You cannot surrender to a monstrosity.”
Furthermore, if we don’t trust God, it can be difficult to trust our husband, wife, or other people. This is because our distrust of God is often based on a distrust of one or both parents. Until that distrust is resolved, it can be difficult to trust anybody else. This can leave us feeling insecure, fearful, and anxious much of the time.
Second, with a faulty image of God, we cannot truly serve or worship him. We may serve him out of a sense of duty or compulsion, but not out of love or desire. It will be joyless service and meaningless worship.
Third, unless we view God correctly, we may doubt or even deny his existence. I knew of several brothers who grew up in a religious home where the father was very controlling and hid his true feelings behind a false, super-religious façade. He may have had religion but he didn’t have true Christianity. The conflict this caused in his sons’ minds caused such confusion that one committed suicide. The other two threw out God-a God who was a caricature of their father. They now doubt God’s existence.
With a faulty image of God, we
cannot truly serve or worship him.
Fourth, a faulty view of God can affect behavior. I read about another dysfunctional religious family where the father was unemotionally involved with his children and the mother (the adult child of an alcoholic) though very capable, was incapable of giving her children the emotional nurturing they needed. The result? One daughter became involved in drugs and prostitution, another was unable to relate in a healthy way to men and turned to homosexuality. The other two became codependents. All four had unsuccessful marriages. Three turned away from the God of their making and left the church.
Fifth, an erroneous view of God can stop us believing in him and block our experiencing his love and acceptance. Unfortunately, many a person has never discovered God’s love or made him an integral part of their lives because they have failed to resolve their impaired relationships to their parents and have a nebulous or faulty image of God. And many a parent has unconsciously driven a wedge between their children and God because they have not had a wholesome relationship with them.
As parents, it is critical that we recognize and resolve our impaired relationships from the past so we can learn a healthy view of God. This is so we can relate in healthy ways to our children and not present them with a distorted view of God.
It isn’t easy to resolve our damaged pasts, but it is possible. The starting point is to be ruthlessly honest about our feelings (not thoughts) toward God and our parents, and if there is a problem, admit it. If so, in spite of any negative feelings toward God, ask him to help you anyhow. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” when prayed sincerely, is one of the greatest prayers we can ever pray, and can lead to a whole new beginning and greatly enriched life.
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