Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Father, Abba, Dad, Daddy

Lately I have been thinkin'.  How does our relationship with our own father frame our relationship with God.  Now, I am no biblical scholar, though I read some, and I am no psychologist so have no fear of "being shrunk".  But let's think about this for just a moment or two.  Our very first father child relationship is with our own dad, most of the time.  I know there are some that perhaps your father was not in your life but that is very important also.  I think it is this from this springboard that we first begin to envision what God must be like.  After all, when we come across the bible it talks about Our Father.   Fathers can be aloof patriarchs, stern disciplinarians, loving fathers, a good friend, a part time dad, a non-existent father, or any combination of the above or maybe something not mentioned.  This relationship is frequently (though not always) noted by the use of the name given to your dad.  For example I always called my dad, dad.  Others may use the appellation Father (as Wilma does) and of course we know that Jesus liked the name Abba or daddy (Goran, is this the correct translation?).  At least that is what I have been taught. 

For me, I lost my father when I was seventeen. (actually didn't lose him, he died from a blood clot).  There are two things about that.  First, I had a rare glimpse of what his friends thought of him.  See, my dad was a fireman, and when he threw his clot he was at home.  The department responded and to watch those men work on my dad was a sight to behold.  He was clearly loved by his fellow workers.  In essence, I think I can draw from that (plus a couple of other incidents) he was a very good friend.  Second, I grew up without benefit of an older dad.  Of course dad would have been older but I had no chance for an adult relationship with him.  I needed to search other places to find that relationship, if for no other reason than to be a dad to my two children. Anyway,  I have a mix of my own experiences along with the bible and especially the Lord's Prayer.  So my interpretation of God is the loving Father but one who cares as much for friends, who wants everyone to be together.  The two great commandments mean a great deal to me.  The Eucharist means a great deal to me.  Parables like the good Samaritan and the father in the prodigal son stick with me easily.  I can quote those stories with ease.  When Jesus spoke to his dad he said Abba, I can easily relate to that.  But this is just me.

So, how about you?  First, does your relationship with your father frame your relationship with God and if so why?  If, not why?  



Brian R said...

Several years ago I attended the funeral of my best mate from school days. His son who was in ministry training at the time gave the eulogy. He told how they were taught to realise that for many people the idea of a loving father might not be the reality of their experience. However he said "I only pray that God will be as loving and caring as my father was."
I was not close to my father as a boy although others spoke highly of him. He did not understand his studious, book loving and religious son. Only in his last years (he died when I was 30) did we become closer.

Fred Schwartz said...

Thank you for that story. As I read your story it did shape your image of God.

Lynn said...

I can speak from the other end of the spectrum. I am 51, my dad is 81, and FYI I am the youngest of two children. Oh, yes - I can see many parallels. But both of my parents have been a huge and positive force in my life - and they worked as a team (and still do). There's some truth in a lifetime of mom saying, "you're just like your father," and dad saying, "you're just like your mother."

I was just about to write that I didn't have a particular story, but now I see I gave one up anyway.

BTW, my dad is truly an imposing man in many ways, just ask anyone who ever worked for him. But when you are "in" with dad, he backs you up a thousand ways - even getting a bit of a kick when something you do is against his advice, but works out beautifully.

DArn, I think that's two stories, or perhaps the start of two novels, 51 years in the making.

Fred Schwartz said...

Actually, if we look at the nature of God we might actually ask for both mom and dad. For God is both father and mother and neither father and mother. So our relationships with both parents probably frame our image of God. I thank you for a valuable embellishment.

Lynn said...

Fred, I sometimes suggest the following to those who wonder if God is father or mother: think of God as the only known perfect single parent. I suppose that makes us believing mortals an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters.

Cany said...

I don't buy it. Not at all.

I came from a single parent family. I was required to be with my dad in summers.

It was horrible.

These father=Father converse ideas.

Lynn, you probably grew up in a mentally healthy family. That is the only conclusion I can come to in this post.

See how that works?

Lynn said...


I think it's safe to say they were the right set of parents for me. I won't go beyond that.

I have (and do) know people, including my extended family, where that wasn't always the case. Nothing wrong with the parents, nothing wrong with any of the kids, but somehow the fit was wrong for a child or two.

I also know some people who just grew up in terrible family situations. Booze, verbal and/or physical abuse, you name it.

I can't say for a moment that I wasn't lucky, btw. But I have no idea how that has shaped my perception of God. It certainly didn't cause any harm.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Yes, it's what I have heard too.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Daddy, that is ;=)

And - it's all relational!