Being taught that God is our father has left many of us with a false and convoluted perception of who He is due to the way our parents handled conflict and discipline. Some of us grew up with parents who ignored our disobedience and neglected us by pretending nothing was wrong—parents who handled issues and mistakes with passivity, which taught us to undermine authority and abuse boundaries. Others of us had parents who dealt so harshly with us for our failings that we doubted their love for us, which taught us to hide our shortcomings and instilled fear and low self-esteem. Though it’s natural to project our experience with our parents onto our perception of God, it isn’t fitting. It’s inaccurate to attribute these poor parenting styles onto God. If we do this, we risk developing habits of avoidance and emotional withdrawal, or complete defiance. If we cast the broken dynamics of our human relationships onto who He is, we will live in fear instead of freedom, believing we are either “too much to handle” or “too broken” for Him to ever actually love us.
But He is not like our parents. He is neither neglectful, nor abusive. His discipline only seeks to reconcile. This reconciliation transforms us because He confronts us as we are, and embraces us in grace and truth. The healing we find in being reconciled to our Heavenly Father enables us to partake in this ministry of reconciliation because it frees us to forgive in the same way we’ve been forgiven. This equips us to knock down the barriers we’ve built between the broken men and women who poorly parented us—broken sons and daughters. This is the practical, powerful work of Christ’s restorative truth—replacing division with unity, bitterness with understanding, chaos with peace, darkness with light."