Monthly Archives: June 2015


In the 1980’s, many liturgical traditions came up with “inclusive language settings.”  These took care to avoid any gender specific words when it came to God.  One argument for this was that people have so much difficulty with human fathers, they can’t relate to God if we address or refer to Him with the same title.  My experience has been different.
God showed Himself to me as my good, loving Papa when I was in college.  This revelation has been foundational in my healing.  He has built on it through the years.

One such occasion was my Episcopal confirmation, when I was 29.  The Old Testament lesson was about God, the Father to the fatherless.  While this was still being read, I heard God say, “That includes those of you whose fathers couldn’t be dads.”


So who is this Papa?  How is He different from a human father?

He is all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful and totally perfect.  He knows and understands each of us:  He is also Creator, so He knew us when He conceived us, before anybody had the slightest idea that we would exist.  He even knows all of the things we don’t know about ourselves.  He is good; He has plans for our welfare that give us a hope and a future.  He loves to bless us; in fact, He lavishes His love on us.  He doesn’t miss a thing, no matter how minuscule or insignificant it seems, because He is always with us (in us, once we give our lives to Jesus!)


Do you need someone who really gets who you are?  Do you want someone to talk to about anything at all?  Papa God is listening; He is Personally concerned with every aspect of your life.


Psalm 68:5; 139:13-16
Jeremiah 29:11
1 John 3:1


I was 29 when my first repressed memory of abuse came up.

It happened when I was 4, almost 5.  We had a teeter-totter swing in the basement.  My younger sister and I were playing onit.

My father was also in the basement, working on a wood project.  Every time he would run the table saw, we would scream as part of our play.

After a while, my father called me over to him.  He picked me up, turned on his power sander and ran it down my arm.  It had no sandpaper, which would have severely injured me; it left a rub burn, but mostly frightened me.

He put me down; I ran upstairs to my mother, who was washing dishes.  I was crying.

My father followed me, laughing as he came, “I gave Tracy a shave!”

My mother didn’t change her pace or look at me; she just kept washing dishes.  “you’re okay,” she said without expression.

I went into the bedroom that I shared with my two sisters and took care of myself.


I could tell plenty of stories like this one.  My father was a very wounded man, who often acted in hurtful, cruel ways.  My mother often failed to advocate for us or protect us, if she recognized what was going on in the first place.  Every adult survivor of abuse knows what I am saying.
Twenty-one years later, Papa God asked me a challenging question.  I was sitting in Church, listening to the pastor’s sermon.  He told about a time when his brother and he had done something particularly unacceptable.  Their father took the boys into his study and told them he wanted them to give him the spanking.  They were appalled at this and asked why.  Their father said that he must have not done well by them, since they could act so poorly.  The pastor said this was the hardest spanking he ever hadd.

At that point, Holy Spirit drew me aside and asked, “How long will you spank your father?”  Then He said, “I will deal with him according to My mercy.”

My father was in a care center with advanced cancer at the time.  Three weeks later, he died while I was en route to see him.

If God could grant this broken man His mercy, I could do the same.  From what I have been told, he gave his life to Jesus shortly before his death; I expect to see him in Heaven.


It took years for me to forgive my father for the many traumatic things he did and receive healing from the good, good Father:  Papa God, mostly because things were only broght to my attention as I was ready for them.


One question I often asked was, “How do I honor parents who acted in hurtful ways?”

Part of the answer is to forgive.  Honor has to do with reflecting God’s regard for people.  If Jesus died for all sin, that includes those committed against each of us.  We can join with Him, which brings blessing.
If you’re ready, you can pray something like this:

Papa God, by your grace, I forgive my earthly father for ______ (be as specific as you can.)  I receive healing from You today.  Thank You for being my good, good Father.  Amen.
Be healed and set free, in Jesus’ wonderful Name.


Out in the World:
Prove yourself to us;
Show us what you can do;
Give us a reason
To accept and like you!
Sorry, that’s not good enough;
You need to do more.
We’re upping the anty;
Go for a higher score.


Time With Jesus:
My son, My daughter,
You’re so precious to me;
Carry My presence;
Live with integrity.
At peace because I love you;
Full of joy and grace;
Reflecting My glory;
Ever seeking my Face.


Out in the World:
Why should we trust you?
What can you guarantee?
Surely you don’t think
You are better than me!
Whenever it’s possible,
I’m sure to beat you
At earning and having;
In all that I can do.


Time With Jesus:
I am Your Savior,
The Lover of your soul.
In Me you have life;
My Presence makes you whole.
I will always be with you;
I will never leave.
You’re secure in My Arms;
Don’t fear, only believe.


Names:  So basic, we hardly give them any thought; yet they speak volumes about who we are.  Even the nicknames we choose tell about our self regard and the identity to which we hold.


As we grow and build our lives, our names take on greater meaning.  All someone has to do is say your name and an image comes up:  “Oh yes, she’s the one with the beautiful flowers around her house.”  “Ah, the teacher…”  “oh, her.”


Jesus asked the man with the Legion what his name was.  I really don’t think He was asking the demons – He never carried on conversations with them; He only spoke to them when commanding them to go.  Moreover, demons are compulsive liars:  Why would anyone ask them anything?  I think it was more of an assessment and call to the man, much like what we mental health clinicians do when we conduct a mental status exam.  By the time Jesus was done, the man had received his real name – his true identity.  He was healed from the inside out!


Another story about someone being asked his name is found in Genesis.  Jacob told the angel of the Lord that he would not let him go until he blessed him.  The angel asked him, “what is your name?”  This was not merely a question about nomenclature; it was really about what kind of person Jacob was.  He could not answer proudly, because his name meant “supplanter; swindler.”  The angel told him, “From now on, you will be call Israel,” which means, “One who wrestled with God.”


The most precious story about names is in Luke 2.  Gabriel says, “You will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from sin.”  The Name of Jesus carries with it all authority and power.  In His Name, healing, salvation, protection, provision, blessing, honor and glory are made real.


What is your name?  Who are you?  Do you know yourself in the light of God’s truth and love?  Or are you believing lies, based on experience and inner wounds?  Call on the Name of Jesus and you shall be healed.