Monday, August 4, 2014

Meet Your New Father

A dear friend of mine was telling me about some people she knows who are having trouble getting "close to God". She wonders why. "Why do people have to work so hard at it? You either believe or you don't believe."

As far as being saved, that is true. But may I say that feeling close to God is a very different matter. This may sound strange coming from a fundamentalist, but these troubled people are having difficulties with their psychology, not with God. Sometimes we forget what complicated emotions are behind our perceived relationship with Him.

A wonderful Christian psychologist, Dr. Clyde Narrimore, once worked for the Los Angeles school district. This means a lot of people. He ran an experiment on school children. He had them write an essay on how they felt about their fathers. Later he asked them how they felt about God.

When the results were tallied he found a correlation between the two--in the high nineties. How children feel about God depends on their feelings about their fathers.

All conversions are miraculous interventions by the Holy Spirit, but our early experiences still cling to us. I will even say that we are not free of early events and relationships that we had while children. If your father was authoritarian you will see God that way. If your father was cruel and unforgiving, the same results.

I tried this idea on myself. My father was a very good man, and loving, but in a distant way. He was busy with more important things. So I grew up with a feeling of non-importance, or insignificance. Each time I have used Narrimores results, they have worked out.

A critic wrote about the play, "The Odd Couple", that it was not about crazy sex, but about crazy people. Our problems in feeling close to our Heavenly Father may well arise from how we got along with our earthly one.

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