How Knowing God as “Father” Informs My Understanding of Prayer

Father Knows Best was a popular television show when I was a child. It was about the Anderson family whose dad offered sage advice whenever one of his children encountered a problem. The image of a caring father who acts in the best interest of his children is an anomaly for victims of sexual abuse who knew their abusers as “dad.” For them, dad was a self-serving man they dared not trust. It is no wonder that abuse victims sometimes struggle with the image of God as a Heavenly Father. Even those of us whose perpetrators were not our dads, can still struggle to relate to a good God. Trust can be difficult, especially if safety was lacking in our formative years. Rather than trust anyone to care for us, we have often fought for some illusion of control.

Even though I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior as a teenager, my walk with God has been a long journey. Even now, forty years later, I am still learning to really trust Him. As a young Christian, the discipline of prayer became very important to me.  I was so excited to see all the ways God answers prayer! Now I also recognize there were times I trusted more in the power of my prayers than in the One I prayed to. It’s a subtle distinction.  Continue reading

What Prayer for Sexual Abuse Taught Me About Significance

What Prayer for Sexual Abuse Taught Me About Significance

If you have always remembered your abuse and hated your abuser, this post may seem strange to you.  That was not the case with me. For years my abuser was my hero. In fact, I didn’t remember my abuse until after it was disclosed that he had also abused my child! My suppressed memories resurfaced then, and I struggled to accept a brand-new reality. Even after the memories returned, I still struggled with conflicting feelings of love and disdain for my abuser. Continue reading

My “god” had No Arms!

My god had No Arms: Overcoming a distorted image of God resulting from sexual abuse

As a prayer counselor prayed with me after my mother’s death, I remember how shocked I was to hear myself exclaim, “My god had no arms!” It came in response to a childhood memory of my mom accidentally scalding me as she washed my hair. Such words would normally never come from my lips, but obviously, the child in me felt unprotected. There were other times the god I thought I knew seemed to have failed me as well, like when I awoke at night to find someone standing over my bed touching me in ways that no preschooler should experience.  And of course, what does that little girl think when she hears a mumbled death threat not to tell anyone? Where is God in such circumstances? Continue reading