I was reading this great piece by Dr. Gregory Popcak about how the way you were parented affects your experience of God. It’s a good read – I highly recommend it. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithonthecouch/2014/04/attachment-and-faith-style-how-parenting-affects-your-experience-of-god/
After I read it though, I was left with some questions. “So what if my parents were completely unattached and I grew up to be ‘fearful and avoidant?’ What then? What if it I just can’t trust God because of this?”
If you look at the figure of Job in light of this article, it would appear that he had perfect parents. He totally trusts God. He never utters a word against him. Yes, he curses the day he was born and he wishes he had never come into being, but he never says a single word against God.
Despite his insistence of innocence, His friends cannot believe that he could possibly be “blameless” in God’s sight. They sit there for days lecturing him on how he must have done something wrong. Nice friends.
Still, he maintains his innocence. He begs God to tell him what he did. He asks why it is that he is undergoing such profound suffering.
God is silent and does not answer.
What a story. It’s a real page-turner. There’s some real suspense as we wait for God to show up and “set things straight.”
And, there are so many things to be learned from Job. Amidst the most profound suffering, he trusts God completely, he waits patiently, he endures the endless, berating lectures of his friends who clearly believe themselves to be better than him, and still he does not say a word against his creator. What faith.
What is it that Job possesses? What allows him such tenacity through trials?
He has an authentic relationship with God. He doesn’t hide his feelings. He’s quite vocal in fact. Yet, he’s respectful at all times. Even when God is silent, he holds on and trusts that God hears him. When God finally answers with a long and intimidating response (Job 38-41), Job replies. I am always floored by that line, “Job replied to Yahweh,” (Job 40:3). By that point, I would likely be cowering in a corner, but Job, always humble and respectful, answers God. He doesn’t run away from the relationship. Even after God has taken everything away from him, he’s still willing to talk it out with God and hear what He has to say.
He trusts God implicitly. Although he wonders why all of this hardship is befalling him, at no point does he lose his trust in God. Maintains his innocence, yes. Loses trust, no.
So what are we to do if we didn’t have perfect parents and, as a result, grow up unable to trust God? What if we just can’t get real with God because we are afraid He’s going to drop us like a hot potato? What if we just don’t have the faith of Job?
The obvious answer is counselling. Counselling can be tremendously helpful in helping us to grow and heal those areas of pain and lack that hold us back.
There are two other things that can also be incredibly helpful though too:
- Spending time with the Word of God. Sit with the Word of God. In Scripture, we can find the words that we may not have heard growing up. Hearing “I love you,” “you are my beloved son (or daughter),” “I have chosen you,” “I knew you from before you were born,” “I know your thoughts from afar (and I still love you),” can be incredibly comforting. The more time you spend with Scriptures, the more comfort you will get. The more you will understand that you are His beloved son or daughter. When you know this deep in your bones, you will be able to trust Him.
- Ask the Holy Spirit for help. As my wise spiritual director says, “ask the Spirit to pray through you…let the Spirit pray through you.” This is some of the most profound and fruitful spiritual advice I have ever received. When the Holy Spirit comes, great things happen – things that we could not orchestrate or plan, happen with great ease. The Holy Spirit can heal those areas of lack or hurt, those wounds that make it hard for us to trust and be real with God and with others. The Holy Spirit accomplishes within us that which we just cannot accomplish on our own without divine assistance.
So, if you find yourself struggling in your relationship with God, ask for God’s help. Approach in humility. Be patient. Ask God to help you have a more authentic relationship with Him. Immerse yourself in His Word and ask the Holy Spirit in. You will not be disappointed.
“Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history” (Lumen Gentium, 12).
Listen: Francesca Battistelli, “Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here”