God the Father

God often perplexes me. One way that God perplexes me is that He says that He is my father. As if a father were a good thing. I don’t think so. Somewhere deep down inside of me, maybe in my toes, I may house a faint desire for a father. I have yet to navigate that far into myself, however. I may attempt to find a mother, but I never feel an ounce of interest in creating a father-daughter type relationship with anyone. When I think of father, at best, I draw a blank space in my head. At worst, I recoil and quite literally gag. Now obviously, based on the nature of my blog, we know that there is plenty of trauma crap to serve as a basis for this revulsion toward parental units, but I would like to figure out how to help myself enter deeper into relationship with God the Father.

When I chat with God, we reach an impasse every single time He starts to talk about His parental love for me. I just flat out don’t comprehend it. I would have thought that being a parent would soften my heart for God’s parental role in my life, but it doesn’t seem to translate. I am an adult. I have two beautiful, wonderful, cherished babies, whom I mother whole-heartedly and with great delight. But I can’t seem to place myself in their shoes, as the one delighted in. I believe that I must have spent so much of my childhood reprimanding myself for my silly dreams of being loved and parented that I trained the need to be loved right out of myself. Certainly, I understand that we were created for this relationship. It is primary and at our core, but I just can’t find my own need.

As I read Anne Lamott’s Small Victories, she writes of the need to be welcomed in life and her sense of lack welcome while growing up. I share her experience. No one was around to welcome me into a room, to delight in my presence or long for me when I was absent. I certainly don’t expect to be welcomed. I expect to be a burden or a drain. I live life apologetic of my existence. I caught myself singing to a song with my husband and children the other night and flinched at the awareness of my own voice. Whenever I am made aware of my own voice, whether in conversation or song, I want to cry. I cannot understand how anyone would welcome me anywhere.

God, forgive me for shutting you down when you call yourself my loving Father. Show me what this means, and help me to excavate that anciently-buried need for a father. I believe that the need is there, and I believe that you can revive it. I understand that with its revival will come grief and pain, but I trust that further healing can take place too. I want to experience as much of You as possible in this life, and if that means that you become a parent to me, please redeem parenthood.

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Breaking down the defenses

Two year ago, when as a newly-wed, I left treatment and moved with my husband to this part of the country, I wanted to start over. Prior to 2012, I was unstable, unpredictable, severely eating disordered, depressed, anxious, and immature. When we moved, something happened. It’s not like I “graduated” from treatment; I was kicked out and then immediately sent to the ER to be evaluated for my suicidality. I was finally released, and I moved to a place where no one had known me previously. I decided that I had to be functional, and I shifted, or switched, or something. After almost 20 years of restriction of food, even in treatment, I started eating normally. After many years of self-destruction, I ceased being a danger to myself. This has continued for two years.

I am skeptical.   I question the validity of this shift. I don’t entirely understand what caused me to become so much healthier. I don’t fear that I will go back. I really have no desire to return to where I was, but I wonder what is brewing under the surface. I am certainly more joyful than I have ever been before, and I am infinitely more responsible and controlled. I wonder, however, am I over-controlled? Have I built up such solid structures around my emotions that they cannot any longer be expressed? Have I reacted to the “immature” me by not allowing any room for play and fun? I know that there are many hurts still to work through, and I am becoming more aware of my dissociative process, but it seems that somehow I have turned off a switch that I cannot locate in order to turn it back on. I am not sure if I have become so bent on “proving” myself as fully functional and perfectly fine that I cannot allow room for brokenness. No one around here knows me as broken and disordered. This is the first time in my life that I have been seen as “healthy.”

I also look back on the “old me” as morally inferior to the “new me.” I have a hard time even thinking about that old girl, and I have very little patience with her and her “absurd” emotional lability. But somehow, I am still she. Inside, I am not on a morally higher plane. God’s grace and love don’t extend to me any more than they extended to her. He loved me just as much for the first several decades of my life as He does now. Oh, but parts of me hate her. They want nothing to do with her massively disordered lifestyle. I am different now. I am a wife and a mother, and not only a wife, but a pastor’s wife! I suspect, however, if I am going to heal, I have to make peace with all of me and accept God’s love for all of me. I need to acknowledge that those broken little kids are still living inside of me and still clamoring to be heard. I struggle to know how to handle them now in my current situation.   I am not a child anymore. I have children. Yes, I have these child parts, but they are not functional, so what do I do with them? Do I have time to let them out and let them communicate? It seems absurd to be in a grown adult’s body and have these little kids inside that need to be loved and nurtured. I am often infuriated by this need. This idea of God as parent seems absurd to me. I don’t need a parent. I’m grown up. Do parents actually need parents too? This defensiveness suggests a deeper need, however, and the loving parent part of me is carrying the defensive parts kicking and screaming to the feet of Father-God. The loving parent part of me that was birthed with my first-born has a heart for these multitudes of broken little children inside of me, and wants to see them loved to wholeness. It also knows that as broken as I still am, I can’t love my own external children as fully as I want to love them. I am just not sure how to go about letting down my defenses. Maybe I will ask God for help, since I guess that’s what fathers like to do: Help us. And I suppose that I am not wholly self-sufficient. That’s a first step, right?