All of my life I was told that God, in addition to being Ruler of the Universe, was also my dad. I was not a mere creation God takes casual interest in, nor could I be compared to an abandoned puppy or a stranger taken under the wing a loving being - I was one of God’s spiritual sons who agreed to be born to earthly parents, live a life of absolute dedication to my Heavenly Father, and then hopefully return to live with him in complete Celestial Glory. I was taught that I could completely trust in God even more than I could trust my earthly father (who fortunately for me turned out to be a very caring and responsible guy) because, while my earthly father would be imperfect, have a limited knowledge and understanding of the Universe, and be only as powerful as your slightly above average human, my Heavenly Father is perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent. So in a nutshell, however much my biological dad wishes for my success and happiness, Heavenly Father wishes for it infinitely more and actually has the power to make me truly and totally happy. True and total happiness, this is the first thing Mormons will explain to you when you ask them what the meaning of life is, but millions of others have grown up viewing life under this same premise and billions more have heard similar conjectures. God is our father and he loves us. He is on our side and chooses to help us. God cares for us just as a father cares for his children.
Viewing God as a father suggests that we can understand to some extent the thoughts and feelings that motivate his interactions with human beings. And when life gets hard and we start to feel picked on a little too much, viewing God as a knowing and loving father helps us reach the conclusion that everything will be alright and we just have keep trusting in him.
I used to cherish my “divine parentage” with only occasionally acknowledging the problems underlying the Heavenly Father narrative. Even after outgrowing the Mormon faith tradition I would at times revisit the idea that God is somehow the father of humanity and what that would mean for our expectations of God’s behavior toward us. As believers we impose expectations on God. Jesus, for example, taught that human fathers know how to give better gifts than stones, snakes, and scorpions and Heavenly Father knows how to give even better gifts (Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13), and consequently we actually expect God to answer, open, and give when we seek, knock, and ask (Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10).
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