With Father’s Day almost here, many of us are reminded of all the wonderful ways fathers have strengthened and supported their families.
But for more than 20 million children living in the US without the physical presence of a father, Father’s Day can be a difficult time. Add to that the millions of dads who are physically present but emotionally absent.
According to the National Center for Fathering, if fatherlessness “were classified as a disease, [it]…would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency,” since so many social ills seem to stem from it.
Although my father was not present for most of my childhood, learning about God as my Father and Mother in the Christian Science Sunday School helped me feel that my divine parent would help me no matter what kind of a problem I had.
I’ve always loved how Jesus spoke about God as Father. In his “Sermon on the Mount” he said to a large crowd: “…When you pray, go into your own room, shut your door and pray to your Father privately. Your Father who sees all private things will reward you….For your Father knows your needs before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:6-8).
Speaking of God as Father was a pretty revolutionary thing to say back then. Up until that time, most people thought of God as some distant deity that could only be appeased by sacrifice. In their eyes, God was changeable, played favorites, and was often stern and unforgiving. But Jesus changed all that by revealing this new relationship with God as our loving Father. 1
I like how Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy interprets the first few lines of The Lord’s Prayer in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures :
“Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious,
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever present.
This prayer tells us that our divine Parent is harmonious. There is no anger, violence or impatience in this divine nature. Nothing dominating or submissive. Just a stable, dependable parent. It implies we’re not in the crossfire of an angry relationship but the beneficiary of a sweet Parent’s love.
More than just respect, we have a close, deep, mutually loving relationship. We are the apple of God’s eye, and we naturally adore Him/Her. And if God is ever-present, there’s no absentee dad here. He/She is always available, always there for us, and capable of helping and protecting us no matter what the situation.
Ginny Luedeman experienced the blessings of this concept of God. For much of her childhood, her dad was an alcoholic and abusive. When he left the family, she was glad the abuse had ended, but she felt abandoned.
Then, when she was 19, she began to read Science and Health, and the line, “Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious,” particularly resonated with her. She began to see God as a loving Father, who would never harm His child.
As she grew spiritually over the years, she realized she no longer needed to see herself as a victim of an ugly past. This brought complete healing.
“As soon as I stopped thinking that I was anything other than the spiritual creation loved by the one Father-God, my pain [and depression] stopped,” she wrote in a published account.” …Dad’s abusive behavior could never touch the real me. Or him either….Pure fatherhood was loving me with all the love I could ever hope for.”
Then an amazing thing happened. Although Ginny and her dad had been out of touch for many years, he called. He said that he had been lying in a drunken stupor by a riverside. When he awoke, he never wanted to drink again, and he didn’t. He acknowledged that only God could have brought about such a complete change.
No matter what kind of family life you may have had, you have the right to know God as Father and Mother — a divine parent who loves you dearly, and can be depended on to care for you and govern you harmoniously. And those divine Fatherly qualities are something to appreciate.
Valerie Minard writes regularly on the connection between consciousness, spirituality, and health. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in New Jersey. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @valerieminard.