Mine was. (He still is sometimes, unfortunately.) He was always teetering on the edge of psychological imbalance, fully out of control of his emotions.
If I did something wrong – either willfully or unintentionally – I risked his fury. If I didn’t believe the exact right thing about a particular, obscure Christian doctrine, I risked his belittling condescension. If I didn’t learn the lesson the first time, I risked his abandoning his teaching post. If I misinterpreted a verse of the Bible, I risked his stamping my forehead with a red “H” for “heretic.” If I made the same mistake more than once, I faced the full force of his exasperated anger. If I raised my hands too high or didn’t raise them high enough during a worship song, I faced his tisk-tisking disapproval. If I prayed the wrong way, I risked his ignoring me outright. If I doubted him or the Bible or myself, I risked his incredulous reproof.
Wow: Fear. That all sounds like a lot of fear when you put it all together like that.
(I sincerely hope you have no idea what I’m talking about, that at this moment you’re scratching your head profusely and looking at the screen like I’m an alien with a terribly cynical view of God. If so, please just nevermind. Ignore this post and go read something else.)
But if your God sounds anything like mine, there is hope! God is busily at work, changing my mind about himself.
Hear the Good News today:
He is not at all emotionally fragile.
He is not at all psychologically insecure.
He has no tenuous ego to defend. He knows full well the extent of his power, his creative prowess, and his identity as Love. He is not intimidated by my doubts about any of the above. He invites me to wrestle (Israel); he leads me to greater and greater truth about who he is.
He is Love: perpetually, consistently, and tenaciously toward me. His Love does not waver no matter how I am acting or being. His Love has no conditions. If anything, he most demonstrates his love for me exactly when I’m being a selfish brat or a theological numpty or an unrepentant fool.
He is the most under-control Being I have ever met. The crowning fruit of his Spirit is self-control. His Son, the incarnate version of God, embodied self-control in the face of the most antagonistic, violent religious people — so much that he let himself be killed. Jesus basically self-controlled himself to death.
He is the most stable Parent ever. He does not escalate my immature, emotional outbursts by matching them with his own. Rather his kindness leads me to repentance, under his [gentle] wings I find refuge.** He looks right past my fragility, my defensiveness, my underdeveloped emotions, and asks, “What does Jocelyn need most from me in this moment? How can I help her? How can I (Love) lead her to become more of the woman I created her to be? Now, let’s get to work…”
Praise be to God.
* Look it up; it’s British — a delightful addition to your name-calling vocabulary. Oh, yes, you’re so welcome. 😉
**Romans 2:4; Psalm 91:4