I was recently asked to share my faith story, this struck me as strange, because I have been writing about faith issues for over twenty years, and yet no one has really asked me my own story before. As I pondered my existence, I realized that are a couple of themes to my life; fatherlessness, falter, and finally…Faith!
As a child, my life was defined by a dad who was distant or absent at best, hurtful and dismissive at worst. My life was marked by life events when he was not there, or was making a point to remind me that he considered me an obligation and felt no love for me.
Due to this, it was very difficult for me to imagine God as loving father. Instead, I looked to Christ as a Savior from my pain, an example for my life, and even a brother in my time of need.
I could kind of get my brain wrapped around the Holy Spirit, because I did feel led by something. I had been taken to daily Mass as an infant by my mom, and by the time I was 14 years-old would often walk to daily Mass during school breaks. I felt comfort there.
A few years later, my brother (thirteen months my junior), my best friend in the world, ended his own life. I was devastated and once again relied on the idea of Jesus Christ as a brother who could share in my suffering.
College and adult life brought questions, struggles and more rejections; So I wondered, how can God be my Father? Then, I was dealt a really difficult blow, the man I loved, whom I had married in the Church, left me. Nothing made sense, I couldn’t reconcile this pain with the promises of a God who was supposed to love me. Not knowing what to do, I turned to the only thing that gave me solace before, back to daily Mass.
Without boring you, dear readers, The Lord had a much better plan for my life! I went through the annulment process which gave me some peace and showed me the effect of fatherlessness on my life. I grew in faith and married a wonderful man, it was in his eyes and through his heart that I recognized God the Father’s love for me.
Later, when I became a parent I desired only good things for my children. I realized that God, as my Father, wanted only good for me too. He had taken my broken heart, mended it through the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and now Marriage and blessed me with the most perfect spouse He had put aside for me. He made good out of bad. He filled His promises. He was the perfect Daddy.
As Max Lucado expresses, God, my Abba/Daddy carries a picture of me in His wallet, He has a picture of me on His fridge. I read in a book once titled, Daddy Where were You, that God brags about me and tells others that I am beautiful and He can’t wait till I am with Him always! Perhaps this is what Scripture means, when it says…
“Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven.”
This is not meant to be taken literally. Of course we call our dads- Dad, or our priests- Father, but maybe because even the best dad, or mom, or friend, or priest, or anyone can let you down. They are human, and try as we may, humans are fallible, we don’t always put others first or have the best intentions for each other.I personally would love to be a perfect parent, but I am not.
I think of how many parishes have been shaken by the wrong actions of a particular pastor, or devastated when a wonderful pastor leaves. Our focus must be on God and not man.
God, is perfect, constant, ever-living, ever-loving and He is the only Father who will never, ever let us down! God is Daddy, He is your Daddy and mine. With Him on our side there is nothing that is impossible, even fixing broken hearts. God bless.
For Audrey, Molly, and Haley
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