Fatherhood goes way beyond the popular stereotypes of either Mr. Mom or Deadbeat Dad. Or simply the status one attains by fathering a child. It's more than a legal definition or even a biological connection.
Fatherhood originates in the profound spiritual relation that God, the creator, has to every single one of us. We are God's children.
Apparently that this connection with God hasn't been lost among a majority of American adults, according to a 1998 survey. It shows that nearly three in five adults think about their relationship to God on a regular basis. That's good news, in the light of the dilemmas that many dads face each day: juggling work and family life; financial burdens; single-father parenting; building better relationships with their children. Fathers need and deserve the best kind of support, and who better to provide that support than God - the all-intelligent and loving being that the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, called Father-Mother?
And yet, just how far-reaching and how practical God's parenting is may be a question for some people. Can we depend on spiritual direction, for instance, or feel cared for by divine Love, when we're unable to be with our families because of demands at work, or when the family's expenses are out of control? What if circumstances have reached a point so desperate that we think we're beyond even God's help?
In such times two words from the book of Psalms may be just the reminder that's needed: even there. No matter what the predicament, no matter what has become of our lives - whether we think we've reached the heights of heaven or the depths of hell - our Father is right there with us, providing a helping hand. "Even there shall thy hand lead me," the Psalmist assures, "and thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:10). This is the same powerful and caring Father, the same source of healing, that Jesus leaned on - the same Father who was with him at all times. "The Father hath not left me alone," Jesus said (John 8:29).
When we humbly pray to God for help, we discover how close and caring our Father-Mother really is. From God, the divine Mind, come the intelligent ideas that deliver us from dire circumstances; that sustain us when things seem their bleakest; that convey the kind of patient, tender love you would expect from a perfect Parent. God loves us, holds us, and will not let us go, because in fact we're God's daughters and sons, made in the image of our Father-Mother, spiritual and good.
And what does our heavenly Parent expect from us? To be true to our spiritual nature - to the identity God gave us. That's not some impossible condition imposed on us by a stern God in order to win favor. Rather, it's the precious opportunity we have each moment to express all that our Father-Mother is giving us, so that we can be good people, whatever our role in life happens to be.
We are blessed so that we can bless others. The tenderness and patience to build (or rebuild) a loving relationship, for instance, comes from God. So does the discernment that recognizes divine guidance, together with the wisdom that impels us to act on it and the satisfaction that comes from doing so. Our good nature, and a bounty of good ideas to meet our needs and others' needs, all have their source in God.
So, it's encouraging to see that there are people who are thinking regularly about how they relate to God. There's so much to learn, so much to gain, so much to give, as a result of keeping uppermost in our thoughts this unbreakable relation we have to our divine Parent. It doesn't matter whether you're a father or a mother, single or married, a child or a grandparent. Just remember, your Father-Mother's hand is right there, leading you, holding you.
Our Father which art
in heaven, Hallowed
be thy name. Thy
kingdom come. Thy will
be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9, 10
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society