“I Thought God Was Like My Abusive Dad” – a Guest Post

A guest post by a sister in Christ who has had a very, very difficult life. I’m excited about what the Lord is doing in her life! Please pray with me for His continued total spiritual healing for her heart, mind, and soul:

——-

This is a good article (How Praying in Wrong Ways Destroyed My Faith in God – by Nikki) and it reminds me of something. I often prayed to God unbiblically and when I slip back into old mindsets, still can. What do I mean by this?

Without me realizing it, I prayed out of a lot of unbelief and distrust – unwittingly attributing characteristics to God that were that of my father and other authority figures who had been unjust or untrustworthy. There were many such figures in my life which made it hard to think from any other basis.

Additionally, because I had cried out to God during an abuse incident and did not hear any response from God nor witness any rescue come to pass soon after, I really didn’t trust God or think He could be relied upon to do anything about things that were of great concern to me. So I would pray from a place of doubt and mistrust with my feelings as the indicator as to what was, or was not God’s response.

I did not base my understanding of God on scripture but on my feelings which I trusted more. I regarded Christians who would insist on putting aside my feelings in favor of scripture as nuts, self-righteous Pharisees, and totally insensitive. And some of them did, indeed, fit that bill. They were in such a rush to offer the solution that they acted as if my wounds were inconsequential. And from my end, I was so hurt and felt so sorry for myself in the face of abuse and injustice that I was just not ready to value truth more than feelings or seek for anything beyond healing.

Consequently my relationship with God was often an arm wrestling match, with me trying to persuade an unwilling God to do what I needed or hoped He would or ought to do.

I saw God through the lens of my father who was very unwilling to do anything for me or to meet my needs, and whose stance towards me was one of devaluation and contempt. Dad despised women and had a very idolatrous relationship towards them; he saw women as withholding, manipulative, and whiny users and entrappers, which affected his attitude towards me. He was also a sex addict and so our home included some violation and being aware of things we ought not to have been exposed to.

As a result, my needs and feelings were invalidated and I often had to “prove” that what I wanted, needed, or felt was valid by arguing for it convincingly like some trial lawyer. I won mercy by extreme submissiveness and even prostrating myself, as if before a king with the power of life and death.

That our lives were full of drama is an understatement.

His judgements of me were always negative and tainted by his own deep bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness of his mother. The result of all of this was a sort of idolatrous interpretative bias in my own heart as I struggled to come out from under all the nasty stuff my father had transferred onto me from his undealt with issues. And I had my own hurt and reaction to it and to feeling unloved and unwanted. I think that our reactions to such things are a combination of being sinned against and sinful responses which would of course include a sort of idolatry as our lives become about seeking what was denied us.

This can also result in anger at God who surely must have been a party to the whole thing, insofar as we might see things at the time they occurred and without any understanding of what God has already done in response to evil. Our focus in this head space is usually life in this world in the here and now and wanting to be happy. We are often unaware of God’s perspective being eternal and about right relationship with Him as the source of all life and joy. This makes it hard to grasp a larger picture.

So my prayer life and the lens of my heart was tainted by these things so that I was, in effect, praying to a version of God mixed with my father.

The idea that God was a loving and just Father did not compute for me and I found the idea revolting. One day, I decided to disregard my feelings and stand on what scripture said as a higher authority. I always felt filthy and unforgiven so I decided to stand on 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – and believe that.

That little decision turned out to make a huge difference, and suddenly it seemed that the universe swung around and snapped into precise order and I was able to see clearly.

I realized at that moment that God was not obligated to respond to me if I continued to pray to Him as something He was not, rather than praying to Him according to the truth of who He was.

Hebrews 11:6 New King James Version (NKJV) says:

  • But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

And James 1:5-7 says

  • If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I definitely needed my prayer life corrected and redirected by scripture and still do; praying by our emotions which tend to reinforce themselves, usually leads to a wilderness and brings despair and hopelessness as it tends to go in an ever tightening and defeating downward spiral.

Note from Peaceful Wife –

This dynamic with this dear sister’s dysfunctional relationship with her dad impacting her understanding of God is very common. We tend to assume that God is just like our earthly fathers and we have to be sure we separate the failings of our earthly fathers from our understanding of who God really is. We all need healing to some degree in this area, because none of us had perfect fathers. 

We can’t trust God if we have a warped, jaded picture of who He is, if we think He is evil and out to get us. So often, we end up getting Satan and God switched up in our minds. Not purposely, but we tend to attribute the evil attributes of Satan to God. It would be terrible to trust such a one.

We need to know who God really is and His genuine real character to be able to truly put our faith in Him. So it is important that we recognize any lies we may have embraced and that we learn to go to Scripture to find out the truth about who God is.

SHARE

If you would like to share your own skewed views of God and how that hurt your faith, you are welcome to. And if you want to share how you learned to reject the lies and receive God’s truth, we would love to hear that, as well. Or if you need prayer, you are welcome to share that here.

I, (Peaceful Wife), will be handling the comments, not the author of the post.

Much love!

RELATED

Trusting God to Heal the Scars of Sexual Abuse by Dawn Wilson

More posts on childhood abuse by Revive Our Hearts

Posts about abuse by www.gotquestions.org

Healing for Hopelessness about dealing with childhood wounds from my site www.peacefulsinglegirl.com.

What Are the Attributes of God? by www.gotquestions.org

Who Is God? video series by David Platt

** If you experienced severe trauma or abuse from your father, parents, an authority figure, someone in the church, or anyone else, please reach out for experienced, trustworthy, godly counsel – and to the Lord – to help you heal. And if you are not safe now, please reach out to the authorities if you can safely do so.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 800-799-SAFE (7233). Staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get information in more than 170 languages. You will hear a recording and may have to wait for a short time. Hotline staff offer safety planning and crisis help.

“What Does Casting Your Cares on the Lord Look Like?”

A mountain hike near Boone, NC in June 2014
A mountain hike near Boone, NC in June 2014

Happy 2015 everyone!!!! 🙂 May God be greatly glorified and accomplish His every good purpose in your lives and in your family this year.

 

A wife asked me to address this issue. I would love for other readers to contribute their perspectives, godly wisdom, and insights, as well. Sometimes hearing a different person’s description of a concept can trigger a lightbulb moment. (This is a post that I believe could bless everyone – even those with very difficult circumstances.)

God’s Word commands us to not worry, but to trust God.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

Psalm is a fantastic book where the various psalmists describe being in various problems and having many different kinds of troubles and then they change from describing their enemies and their circumstances to praising God and trusting Him. That would be a great book to study if someone wants to learn to “cast his/her cares on the Lord.”

When we trust God with our concerns, our worries, our problems, and our anxieties –

1. We acknowledge the reality of the problem. I personally like to write down the problem in great detail in my journal. I write down all of my concerns, fears, beliefs, thoughts, and the things I keep saying to myself about the problem.

Here is an example from Psalm 55:

Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;c
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.” Psalm 55:1-8

verses about fear

2. We mentally lay our burdens before God’s throne. I like to picture myself laying an issue on the altar before God, or laying something or someone at His feet. And then – I don’t pick it back up again. Sometimes I trace my hands (palms up) and list my concerns and fears on the fingers of the hands I drew. And I imagine laying my burdens before God. I mentally picture the whole process of me holding my heavy burden and then me laying it down and trusting Him with it.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.… Matthew 11:28-29

As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God. Psalm 55:16-19

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.
But as for me, I trust in you. Psalm 55:22-23

verses about how God will strengthen and refresh the weary

3. We praise God. We praise God’s miracles, provision, and blessings from the past in our lives, in the lives of other believers, and in His Word.

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord. Psalm 150:1-6

verses about praising God

4. We thank God for all that He has done for us, for all that He is doing, and for all that He will do.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:20

verses about thanking God

5. We have faith in His ability to handle the situation and we have faith that His wisdom is infinitely higher and greater than our own.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:1-6 (Hebrews 11 is “the faith chapter.”)

verses about having faith in God

verses about trusting God

verses about worry

6. We focus on the sovereignty of God.  This is how we can have peace that passes all understanding. We keep our eyes on Him and realize that He is infinitely bigger than our problems. We look forward with great anticipation to all the good that He will accomplish through this painful trial.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Daniel 4:35

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:9-10

verses about the sovereignty of God

7. We focus on the fact that the Holy Spirit is praying for us and that Jesus is praying for us. We know that God is ultimately sovereign over each situation and we cling to His promise to use all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:26-30 (The whole book of Romans is a wonderful study of the doctrine of salvation and sanctification and helps us to understand the finished work of Christ on our behalf and how we can live in the power of God’s Spirit now.)

but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:24-28 (The whole book of Hebrews would also be a fantastic study about how Christ is superior to the angels, to Moses, to the Levitical priests, and to the law – and how what He did was more than sufficient to cleanse us of our sins and to make us right with God and to empower us to live in His power.)

8. We humble ourselves before God and ask Him to reveal any sinful thoughts or wrong motives in our hearts.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, isb a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:10-17

verses about humility

verses about contrition

9. We reaffirm that Jesus is our Lord and that we are fully submitted to His Lordship. We allow His Spirit to be in control of our hearts, thoughts, and lives.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18b

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

verses about submission to God

10. We commit to walking in obedience to Him to the best of our current knowledge and understanding, longing to grow to be more and more like Jesus.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves Me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them. Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching…” John 14:23-24a

for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” I Peter 1:16

verses about obedience to God

11. We rest in the peace of God, holding the results of each situation loosely, trusting God to know what is best, anticipating all that He will do. We set our mind on good things.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-8

RELATED:

Some additional steps to trusting God and not worrying –

Submission (to Christ) Means We Hold the Things of This World Loosely

Contentment Comes from Having Christ as Lord

Worry – Part 1

My Worry Insults My Husband

My Worry Insults God

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

How to Stop Idolatry and Truly Live for Christ

Godly Femininity

Stages of this Journey

Worry – Part 2

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For Part 1 of this series, please click here.

If you have not asked Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, please click here.

If you have already accepted that you are a wretched sinner, as we all are, and have turned to Jesus as both Savior and Lord of everything in your life-
There are several steps to having the Spirit full blast in your life:

1. Ask God to show you every sin so that you can thoroughly and genuinely see your sin and hate it and see how ugly it is in God’s holy sight. This includes sins that we sometimes think are “little” but they are extremely offensive to God. For me it was things like
PRIDE – actually living as if I knew better than God and believing I was always right and my husband was always wrong. I had been 100% blind to my pride. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
self-righteousness – Jesus condemned this sin in the Pharisees. I looked down on my husband and others thinking I was spiritually superior to them instead of seeing that I am an equally wretched sinner as any murderer or criminal. To God, my level of sin was just as heinous as any other person’s on the planet.
idolatry – trying to find my identity in my husband, or expecting my husband to be God to me, or thinking I was actually in control of way more in my life and in others’ lives than I truly was, or seeking to have sovereignty over my own life instead of God, or seeking my way more than God’s way. (I had never seen or known that I had idols – that was a pretty shocking discovery) I had been breaking the first commandment in the 10 commandments every waking moment for decades. There is no worse sin in God’s eyes than idolatry.
disrespect – I had been treating my husband and many other people disrespectfully for years and didn’t even realize it. My tone of voice was sometimes just awful. I tried to control other people and thought I was justified to do so and would attack others verbally when they didn’t do things my way.

disobedience to God’s Word for me as a wife and in many areas, such as trusting God and living by faith…

gossip
unforgiveness – I held on to bitterness and resentment and grudges. I wanted to forgive, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to. Jesus says if we don’t forgive others their sins, God won’t forgive us. Matthew 5:14
worry/anxiety/fear – this is the opposite of faith. I didn’t think I had a choice about worrying. I thought I had to worry. But I actually can choose faith in Christ over worry. I must choose one or the other, I can’t have both. When I can’t set worry down at Jesus’ feet and truly leave it there, worry means I don’t trust God.
2. Turn from the sin and to God. (repent) This is a daily thing – or an hourly thing. Sometimes a minute by minute thing.
3. Set my faith totally on Christ alone. To do this, I had to study His sovereignty. I had to come down in my own mind “thousands of notches” and I had to exalt Christ to His rightful place. The more I understood His great love and His sovereignty, the more I realized that I was so foolish to worry. Trying to be in charge myself was actually the most dangerous place on earth. Trusting fully in Christ is the safest place – because then I am in the center of God’s will and have His Spirit. As long as I am in God’s will and have His Spirit filling me – I know that I am going to be more than just fine – I know I will have access to all the spiritual treasures of heaven and the fruit of God’s Spirit – even if I should suffer, even if trials come, even during storms and grief and loss.

I had to write down all of my fears and the things I worried about and then decide whether God was big enough to handle that thing if it were to happen.

Worry is when I am trying to figure out how to handle trials and bad things all on my own. I don’t see God’s power being with me in the future, because I don’t have His power right now.  Worry is all about me – what will I do, how will I respond, how will I make things work out right.  I leave God totally out of the picture when I worry.  He can and will show up in ways I can’t begin to expect when I trust Him.

So I take every thought captive for Christ – and compare it to His Word.

And I focus on replacing fearful thoughts with Scripture. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind. I Tim 1:7

4. I also focused on being THANKFUL and looking at the blessings and good things and focused on Philippians 4:8 about my husband and marriage and wrote down everything I could think of that I respected/admired about my husband and I focused on that list and meditated on it.

God also taught me to live in His peace during uncertainty by sending me the same trial over and over every month for 6 months when I was learning this stuff. Eventually, I learned to rest and trust in God’s love and sovereignty and learned to live in His peace even when everything was up in the air and in limbo and nothing was certain.

5. God instructed me to do everything without complaining or arguing so that I can shine like the stars in the universe as I hold forth the Word of Life.  Philippians 2:14

6. I seek to obey God’s Word in everything. If I am living in faith and obedience and not cherishing sin, God’s Spirit will fill me up. I can stay in constant communion with Him and He can and will and does empower me to obey Him and be the godly wife he wants me to be. I can’t be that wife in my own power.

7. I feast on God’s Word OFTEN – daily or more.

8. I totally submit myself 100% to Christ and hold back nothing. I give him all that I am and all that I have and I say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” I hold everything in life loosely except for Christ and His Word. I set Him clearly as LORD of everything in my life.

9.  I die to self,  nailing the sinful nature to the cross. Laying down my will, my dreams, my goals, my plans, my desires, my wisdom, and all that is me – and picking up God’s will, His dreams, His goals, His priorities, His wisdom, His desires and loving what He loves and hating what He hates.

Yes, it seems like a huge sacrifice at first to die to self. I no longer seek my way and my will. I give up myself as a sacrifice daily to CHrist. But when I do that, then He replaces my will and my way with His own and then I have His abundant life and His spiritual riches flooding through my soul. It turns out, the things I thought were such a huge sacrifice were trash compared with the life God gave me when I was willing to empty my hands of self and seek Him alone.

10. God renews my mind and heart and changes it so that He forms the mind of Christ in me.

11. I find my contentment only in Christ. Once I have His Spirit, I know that as long as I have Him – I can be full of joy and purpose. And I know that if I had everything in the world, but didn’t have His Spirit, I would have NOTHING.

God’s Spirit is SO good. It’s the greatest “high” there is. Once you taste it, nothing else can satisfy.

12. I embrace suffering from the hand of God – God uses suffering to make me more mature and complete and more like Christ.

It is a process – and something each believer must hash through with God. It takes time to get to that place of trust. It feels scary at first, kind of like flinging myself off of a cliff – but then there was solid ground under my feet once I did take that leap of faith. And I could just kick myself for not trusting Him completely before!

RELATED POSTS:

Things that Fuel a Spirit of Discontentment in Me

Contentment Comes from Having Christ as Lord

A Huge Key to Contentment by StillJennifer