The relationship a child has with their father has a profound impact on the relationship, if any, they have with God. It is normal even for people who are raised in a healthy family system to project significant people in their lives onto others and expect them to behave in similar ways. It is common to project our parents onto teachers, bosses, spouses—even God. In the world of psychology this is known as transference.
It is very typical for children and adults to project their dads onto God:
· Boys whose dads walked out on the family often grow to be men who believe they can’t rely on God. They rationalize, “Why trust Him? He’ll just walk one day, too.”
· Daughters of workaholic dads can become women with an insatiable need to be valued by God. They attribute their father’s voice to God: “Not now. I’m busy.”
· Sons of strict, legalistic, judgmental dads often, in their adult life, view God as someone whose love must be earned. Their life is all about following the rules.
· Girls who were sexually abused by their fathers become, in many cases, women who find they simply cannot have a close relationship with a male God. The word “intimacy” for them has forever been ruined.
Here is the dilemma: When we have “father issues” and transfer them onto our Heavenly Father we build a wall between us and Him. In doing so, we separate ourselves from the very thing we’re looking for—a growing, trusting, loving, saving relationship with a Father who wants what’s best for His kids.