We believe in one God,
the Father…

The Father.  Everyone has a different reaction to that part.  Some of you have great relationships with your fathers, making it easy to imagine a loving Father God.  Others of you don’t see much of your father but know he loves you—yours is okay, but you wouldn’t mind an additional heavenly Dad.  Or maybe fathers aren’t really the sort of people you want to spend time around.  Perhaps your father has never seemed to “get” you, or maybe he just doesn’t seem to care.  Maybe you don’t get along with him very well.  Some of you have even experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse at the hands of your fathers.

Complicating matters, you may have multiple fathers—biological vs. adopted vs. step, or even two fathers who are gay partners.  You may live with an additional father figure—a grandfather or uncle, for example.  You might not even know your biological father because he left your family when you were young.  For a few of you, a paternity test has never proven his identity or he was an anonymous donor at a sperm bank.  Some of you feel no loss from not having a father because your mother(s), grandparents, or others have done such a fantastic job raising you.  On the other hand, some of you deeply miss your fathers, especially the few who have endured the untimely death of a dad.

In my own family tree, fatherhood has looked different in every generation.  My maternal grandmother’s biological father left when she was two, so her “Daddy” was her stepfather (and a very good one, thankfully).  My maternal grandfather had an abusive alcoholic for a father, but because he learned from his family’s mistakes, my mom ended up with an involved and loving dad.  My own dad was very emotionally abusive, but I now enjoy the chance to spend time with my father-in-law Mike, who has been a wise and caring father to my husband.

Your story is probably similar.  Dads are sometimes good and sometimes bad and usually a mix.  For some of you God as Father is an easy concept, maybe even desirable.  For others God as Father is confusing, uncomfortable, complicated, or even revolting.  Even when we know God is not supposed to be anything like our human fathers, it can be difficult for some of us to warm up to the “heavenly Father” idea.  If that’s you, I want to encourage you, that God is not upset at you for having difficulty trusting him in a father-ish way.

Whether God as father is just an awkward and confusing thought or a sharp sting demanding a journey of deeper healing, I believe God can handle your issues with his desire to be your Father.  I believe Jesus invites us into relationship with his Father, but with that invitation God offers his patience.  He knows your background and will be with you all the way as you open yourself up to him more and more, gradually learning to trust that he will be the good Father he promises.

On the other hand, those of you who feel great about God as Father—whether because of the merits or deficiencies of your experiences with other dads—have an opportunity to share his love with others.  When you care for those around you, including your own children one day (if you have them), remember how meaningful it is to be loved well.  Whether an adoptive or biological parent, a “spiritual” parent, an “auntie” or “uncle” to others in your community, an advocate for social justice, or just a true friend in times of need, we all have the power to communicate the God’s concern for others.  The way we share the love we have been shown may be just what someone else needs to hope that there really is a heavenly Father who cares for them, too.

This post is part of a series on the Nicene Creed.