Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Trouble With Father's Day

by Jennifer AlLee

Next Sunday is Father's Day. At churches across the country, messages will be given comparing God the Father to an earthly father... how He loves his children unconditionally, and how He will always be there for them. For many people, this message brings feelings of safety, happiness, and comfort. They think back to their own childhoods, to their own fathers, and they get a tiny glimpse of how God really and truly loves them.
Sadly, not everyone receives comfort from the Father's Day message. There are some, like myself, who did not grow up with their father. There are others who wish they hadn't grown up with a father, in order to be spared the pain and abuse. When your experience with your earthly father has been bad - or nonexistent - it colors the way you see and relate to God.

Consider this section of scripture:
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
(Luke 11:10-13, NKJV)
When you read those words, how do they make you feel? Do you immediately connect with the sentiment, remembering good times with your own father? Or do you raise your brow in contradiction, because you know exactly how it feels to ask your father for bread and end up with a stone... or worse.

I'll admit, I still battle with the image of God as a loving, ever-present father. Not because I don't believe in His true nature, but because my experiences with earthly fathers is less than grand. My mother and father split when I was six months old. I never knew him growing up. But I did know three step-fathers, none of which I would describe as loving or caring. In fact, I got more than a few rocks from those relationships.

That's not to say my father experience has been totally negative. I finally did meet my father when I was an adult. We've spent time together, talked, and worked toward healing our relationship. I know my father will never be as close to me as he is to his other three children... the ones he raised from the time they were born until they were grown and left his home to start families of their own. But, I know my father still loves me, and I love him.

So what's the point of my story? I sure don't have all the answers, but I do know this: the love of God the Father is a love beyond that of any earthly father. Whether you've known a father's love or not, know that God wants to shower you with the real, honest, perfect Fatherly love.... the way only He can.

JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at


  1. Oh, Jennifer, I'm so sorry you didn't have a good father experience. But you're so right. God is the most wonderful, never failing father we could ever imagine.

    I am blessed to have a dad who's just about as good. Not perfect of course, but awfully selfless and loving and really wonderful. You can tell by how horribly spoiled I am. ;)

  2. DeAnna, it's wonderful that you've been "spoiled" by your dad! I was blessed to have some positive male role models come in and out of my life. God is good!

  3. What a powerful devotional, Jen. I know it will resonate with a lot of people. No earthly father is perfect, but some of us learned that lesson a lot faster than others. So many of us are broken by relationships that it's hard to imagine anyone loving us unconditionally. I had devoted parents, but I still grapple with God loving me no matter what I do.

    Thank you for your vulnerability today.

  4. Jen
    I can so relate to not having a good father (can you say deadbeat?). I know I struggle with seeing God as my heavenly Father at times - I do see Him as a Provider (lots of stories there with how He always made sure our family had enough) - just not the loving Father. Does that make sense?

    I did have the gift of my father coming to know the Lord and actually apologizing to each of us kids separately for being such a terrible father. that brought healing. And I did find my birth father (I was adopted) when I was 30 - I wouldn't say we are close though.

    It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with seeing God as a good father at times.

    thanks for sharing

  5. Jen, I've known people in similar situations and they have a hard time as well, relating to God as a father figure. It really is a powerful reminder about how important the role of a father is to a child's development. I'm so sorry you had those experiences. I'm so glad you're getting to know your dad now, though.


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