When I picture God, I see him as a King. I see God sitting on his very large golden throne ruling over all that he created. That makes sense to me. The first time I heard some refer to God as “dad” or “daddy,” I cringed. It seriously made me physically uncomfortable, and then I found out that’s not a good thing. I need to see God not only as a King but also as a loving Father because if I don’t—every time I read about Him being my Dad in the Bible, it becomes this giant awkward “elephant in the room” moment where I think, yeah, whatever that’s not true.
It’s an unfortunately big problem because the Bible refers to God as our father again and again and again. So if I was going to do this faith thing, I couldn’t ignore it. One way or another, I had to deal with it.
There’s a place in the Bible (Romans 8:14-15) that says, For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him, we cry “Abba, Father.”
In this verse, a guy named Paul (who was one of the major leaders of Christianity after Jesus) is writing to the believers in Rome and reminding them who they are. He is telling them the Spirit of God has given them adoption into God’s family so that we can call God, “Daddy.” Paul is telling them their identity. They are all sons and daughters of God.
Since what we find in the Bible is meant for us today too, I know this means that I am God’s daughter, and should be able to call him Abba too, but I struggle with it. I don’t have to dig deep to figure out why. For generations, and I mean dating all the way back to the 1800s the men in my family tended to leave their first family and start over. It’s what many call a generational stronghold (an area of sin or weakness that seems to be passed down throughout generations like DNA).
The first time I met my paternal grandfather was on his deathbed at the VA Hospital. I remember the smell of death in the air and looking upon a frail old man who meant nothing to me. I know that might sound cruel, but I honestly didn’t know him from Adam.
But the shock wasn’t seeing him for the first and last time. The shock came when I looked beyond the bed and saw a family huddled together, crying for their father and grandfather. I actually gasped out loud when I finally got a good look at them because looking at this family was like looking into a mirror.
It dawned on me that these weren’t strangers but my blood relatives. At that point, shock turned to anger. Why did this family get a grandfather and father? What was wrong with me?
My father left when I was young. So when viewing God as a Dad, I viewed him through my experiences of an earthly father. I saw God as someone who existed but wasn’t for me. I saw God extending love and grace to other people, and forgetting about me. But that’s the problem, comparing God to a human father. I like how Jesus puts it in Matthew 23:9, “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”
I believe Jesus is saying here, don’t compare your earthly father to God, because if you do, you will continue to be disappointed.
But changing a viewpoint is extremely hard, and it takes effort. It takes me starting to view things from a different perspective. It took me looking back at my life and seeing where God the Father showed up. I just didn’t realize it.
For example, being able to look back at how I met my husband, and understand now that was completely orchestrated by God the Father who loves me. Even looking back at my first job, where I met my good friend Nancy, who spoke of God in a way I never heard, and invited me to church. That was God, the Father. And most importantly, I fully believe it was God the Father who brought my dad back into my life after 15 years of being absent.
I believe it was God the Father who helped mend broken hearts and relationships where my parents got remarried. Yes, you read that right. My parents got remarried. I believe it was God the Father because that is something a loving Father would do for his child.
It’s funny—the first time I saw my dad after 15 years, he had a box in his hand. Inside the box were clippings of newspaper articles that myself or my siblings had been mentioned. There were graduation programs and all different things about us. My dad for 15 years had been in the background, and I never knew it. Looking back at the moment in time, I believe God the Father was saying to me, I was and am, always pursuing you, even if you don’t see it.
You may not get that moment with your earthly dad, but I promise you can have it with your heavenly one. No matter how long you’ve been apart, He’s been there. He’s been celebrating your wins and grieving your losses with you—even if you never knew He cared.
It turns out, receiving is actually the hard part. We have to accept it—like a gift. I had to believe that He really did want me and start acting like it. I started trying to call Him “Daddy,” even though it felt awkward at first. I started talking to God about small things you’d tell a Dad that maybe felt too unimportant before when I only thought of Him as a king.
As I started to embrace my identity as God’s daughter, I wanted to learn more about what it meant to be God’s daughter, so I started reading the Bible. I read the Bible through the lens of a father reading it to his child, and with that lens, the stories became personal to me. Now when I think of God, I see him not just as a King but as the Dad I never had.