HOW DO YOUR CHILDREN SEE YOU?

One of the countless things I love about our 4-year old daughter, Amélie, is how she pays us compliments. She’ll tell Laura: “You look beautiful, Mummy!” Or she’ll tell me: “You look cool, Daddy!” It got me thinking how children perceive us as parents, and how we perceive ourselves (and God).

I started writing this as a simple thought on how children look at us and the world through a different lens. We might not feel remotely beautiful or cool, but that’s how our children see us (or want to see us) most of the time, and maybe it’s time to start looking at ourselves through their eyes more often. But then I got thinking about how this also relates to something that I often think about since becoming a dad: how to relate to God as our Father.

Through the years, I’ve heard the sort of sentiment that suggests that God is so “high and above us” that there’s no way we can really relate to Him. People claim that He is so mysterious, and that He does (or doesn’t do) stuff that we are incapable of understanding because we’re just filthy, sinful, petty humans who really deserve an eternity of hellfire and torment. Then, in another breath, these same people tell us that “God is Love”, that “He is wise”, that “He knows best”, and any number of things people tell themselves to cope with whatever they’re dealing with. Well, with all due respect, combining each of those statements makes for a pretty unhealthy view, and I hope you don’t share it. I mean, if there’s any truth to any of those statements – especially combined – then what kind of “love” can we learn from God – who also happens to be a Father?

Bringing this back to being a dad and having 2 children whom God Himself gave us, I found myself viewing God as a much more loving Father than I had previously considered. Think of any scenario where your child needs you to provide something. Think of how you feel about your child when they do things that make you happy or sad. Then think about yourself as the child, and God as the parent. How do you think you make Him feel? Happy? Angry? Disappointed? Do you think you make Him laugh? What do you think He wants to do for and with you?

I think that asking ourselves questions like these will help us to think more deeply about how our children see us, how we should see ourselves, and how we should – perhaps – love our Father in Heaven.

“I think that asking ourselves questions like these will help us to think more deeply about how our children see us, how we should see ourselves, and how we should – perhaps – love our Father in Heaven.”

A child’s world is full of imagination: princesses, dragons, dinosaurs, baby dolls, toy-pushchairs, toolboxes, cuddly toys, fancy dress outfits and dancing or running between points A and B because simply walking is far too boring. A child asks her father, “Daddy, can I have a…” (whatever it is) because they believe we have the ability to give it to them, regardless of whether or not we actually can, or if it’s appropriate to do so. Now, of course, we need to factor in the maturity that more often than not comes with age, but the heart of what I’m saying is this: could it be that the way young children tend to view their parents – as heroes, capable of doing just about anything, who love them deeply and struggle to stop kissing and cuddling them, playing with them, not worrying about being silly or what anyone else thinks… could it be that this the foundational way that in which we should view our Heavenly Father? And if we think we already see Him that way, are we living it out day to day?

“In a moment, it was me and my Heavenly Dad, just hanging out, talking. I would tell Him how I was feeling, what was worrying me, etc., and then I’d “listen” for his loving wisdom. It has been such a radical shift for me.”

I’ll share something personal with you. In recent months, I felt that there was something preventing me from connecting with God on an emotional level. Regardless of how I got there, that’s where I was, yearning to go deeper. Then one day, I suddenly felt like I wanted to call Him “Dad”, and the moment I did that, it was like that dance – you know the one where you cast your imaginary fishing rod across the dance floor, catching your prize, who then jumps towards you as you reel them in, until you’re both dancing in ways that would not score 10 points on Strictly Come Dancing? In a moment, it was me and my Heavenly Dad, just hanging out, talking. I would tell Him how I was feeling, what was worrying me, etc., and then I’d “listen” for his loving wisdom. It has been such a radical shift for me.

Sometimes, it’s like He and I are sitting at the end of a pier, our feet dangling in the water. I tell Him stuff, and He sort of smiles and nods. His feet send ripples out, and He puts His arm around me. He doesn’t judge me because my vocabulary isn’t the same as other Christians. He lets me be who I am: faults, tantrums and all. I tell Him how I want to do better. Be better. I tell Him my hopes and dreams, of how I want to do Big Things for myself, my  family and others; of how I have no idea how these things will happen without Him at the centre of them…

There are times when He just listens, and times when He whispers gently into my mind. Times when I know I’ve upset Him and His firmness is shown in a bit of distance – as if I’m not allowed to join Him in feet-dangling until I’ve thought a bit more about what I’ve done. Then I see him at the end of the pier, and He taps his hand on the empty spot next to Him, and I run over like a kid who knows that everything is okay. Everything was always okay.

But most importantly, since I started seeing God more through the eyes of a child (who believes his Father can slay giants and bring city walls down) than an adult who thinks he knows a bunch of stuff about God, I have come to trust Him more as my Father – my Dad – and it has helped me in my growth as a father, learning to love my daughters better.

How do your children see you, and how does it affect your view of your Heavenly Father?

“Since I started seeing God more through the eyes of a child… I have come to trust Him more as my Father – my ‘Dad”‘.

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