As I mentioned in the last blog, Chan believes there are many reasons why we don't "receive, trust or see" God's love, citing that the reasons vary from person to person. For him, it was due to the relationship with his father. Chan explains that being wanted by his father was a foreign concept to him. He never carried on a meaningful conversation with his dad and, with only one exception, he experienced no phyical touch from his father, except for beatings. This relationship was boiled down to one single goal: not to annoy, or upset, his father. He goes on to say the following:
"The impact of this relationship affected me for years, and I think a lot of those emotions transferred to my relationship with God. For example, I tried hard not to annoy God with my sin or upset Him with my little problems. I had no aspirations of being wanted by God; I was just happy not to be hated or hurt by Him.
"Don't get me wrong. Not everything about my dad was bad. I really do thank God for him, because he taught me discipline, respect, fear and obedience. I also think he loved me. But I can't sugarcoat how my relationship with him negatively affected my view of God for many years." p. 55
"Soooo....Okay....(followed by a reflective, yet quizzical) Huh?" Those were the words that literally came out of my mouth when I first read this passage a few months ago. I have to admit that Chan almost lost me here. This concept takes me back to Psychology 101 in undergrad...a little too Freudian for me. But, the truth is that it hit a little too close to home.
My dad died 14 years ago...and I don't really think of him that much. To say we had a volatile relationship is an understatment. My father was an angry man and he could be physically violent...but he was a product of his own environment as a child. He had unrealistic expectations that I tried desperately to meet, but there were many times that I fell short. My father wasn't emotionally available and I ALWAYS felt that his love was conditional. I knew it wasn't, but I felt that it was...sound familiar? We're back to the "knowing vs. feeling" dilemma. Thankfully, we were able to mend our relationship when I was in college, but the lasting effects are always lingering in the crevices of my mind.
So, when I read this passage, it makes me a little sad...and a little angry. But, as with most things in life, I have a choice. I can wallow in the sadness and anger, allowing it to mold me into a bitter person, or... I can let it go. I've come to realize that letting go is really hard. Sometimes we hold on to these things, allowing them to define us. As horrible as it sounds, we find comfort in it...it's just a lot easier. But, God doesn't want that for us. He wants us to define ourselves through our faith in Him. So, as I sit here and write, I realize... finally... that I have to just lay it down... the anger, the resentment, the bitterness and the sadness. Because, in the end, it isn't this dad that defines me. It's my other DAD.
Yeah...this could be a hard one for some of you. I totally get it. But, as much as I wanted to deny it, addressing this was so incredibly benefical to my growth. Spend some time thinking about your dad... your relationship with him and how it has positively and/or adversely affected your relationship with you other DAD.
His Faithful Servant~