Separating your image of God as father from the image of your own father.
By Coach Felicia T. Scott
Maia and I have been best friends for twenty-five years. We’ve packed a lot of joy and tragedy into our journey together. I still remember the day our friendship began in the eighth grade, when she excitedly told me that her father was finally coming home, after being a political prisoner in Haiti for several years. We’d only spoken casually before this, but she was so excited about his return that she shared her story with anyone who would listen.
The very next day in school, every trace of Maia’s joy was gone; in its place was the first of what would become many sad stories of emotional, spiritual and sometimes even physical abuse. She was no longer “daddy’s little girl” and he was not the indulgent father who used to shower her with gifts and praise. In his place was a jailhouse convert who ruled his family with fear, manipulation and a Pharisaical heart. From junior high to high school, I watched in despair as his controlling influence manipulated her view of God. In his world, love was earned. It was conditional and based on performance. As a result Maia relentlessly pursued the unattainable goal of perfection.
In college, Maia was finally free of her father’s control, when her parents moved back to Haiti. Outside of his influence, her relationship with the Lord blossomed as she learned the meaning of freedom. I’ve watched her overcome crippling hurdles as she pursues Christlikeness. I’ve watched her shed thousands of tears in her fight to overcome the damage inflicted by an emotionally unstable father.
Today, countless women know the pain of a broken father/daughter relationship. Like Maia, they struggle to see God, despite the flawed examples of imperfect fathers. Because even the best fathers make grave mistakes.
Through my friendship with Maia, I’ve learned that God can heal our emotions, even when they seem shattered beyond repair. We become what we pursue and through Maia’s example, I’ve learned that when our pursuits are godly then righteousness is our gain. The road to emotional healing begins with:
The patient pursuit of God: The Bible is clear that we often lack the resources and power of God in our lives because we don’t ask or we ask with questionable motives. There’s no simple formula to experiencing God’s transformation. Knowing she was broken and that she couldn’t change in her own strength, Maia threw herself on the mercy of God. In response, He heard her cry and changed her heart.
The pursuit of His Word: The Word of God is living and full of power. We often lack the power to change because we rush our study of the Word. It is more powerful to read and meditate on one scripture, and then obey it with decisive action, than it is to read mindlessly. Maia knew that her heart towards her dad didn’t honor God so she turned to His word for answers. If you want to heal from a broken or non-existent relationship with your natural father, devote time to studying the fatherhood of God. Ask Him for the faith to believe in His love and then obey Him. A heart that has been watered by the Word of God is open to change and empowered to take the risks required to heal and grow.
The pursuit of Community: Maia’s father modeled correction with rejection, so she responded defensively when someone pointed out her shortcomings or mistakes. Over time her relationships with healthy and mature believers, exposed Maia to the security of correction with unconditional love. As a result, she was able to accept her imperfections and grow.
When we open ourselves to new relationships, we open the door to new life paradigms.
Even now, Maia’s father refuses to acknowledge his abusive past. Despite this, her faith in God has healed her and by His grace, she can enjoy a relationship with her father. Above all else, obedience to God’s Word has allowed her to enjoy a vital and thriving relationship with her Heavenly Father—the One who matters most!
Coach Felicia will be answering your questions about life and relationships in a new monthly column at HOPE. Send your questions to email@example.com
Described as one of today’s leading motivational speakers by Essence magazine, Encouragement Coach Scott™ shares life-changing truths with practical wisdom, humor and insight. The author of Thrive! 7 Strategies for Extraordinary Living and former columnist for Heart & Soul magazine has been featured in Essence, Gospel Today and Black Issues Book Review magazines. Her workshops and seminars are popular at women’s, singles’ and youth conferences. For more info, visit feliciascott.com or myspace.com/upliftagency.