Seven different piles surrounded me on the carpet of my bedroom floor: a small mountain of mismatched socks, fluffy bath towels and wash cloths, never fully clean 5T boys tees and jeans, three separate girls’ stacks, and my own sweaters and leggings. A Casting Crowns playlist wafted from my phone to distract me from my dislike of the never-ending task that is our laundry.
Glancing at the next songs on the playlist, I noticed a new one: Good Good Father. Anxiety rose like steam within me, an immediate, visceral reaction to the mere title. My muscles tensed as if I were bracing myself for against an attack.
I couldn’t listen to it.
Skip. Scroll. Next song, please.
I felt like a failure and fraud because the song didn’t instantly evoke an, “Amen! Yes, my God is awesome!” response in me.
I was afraid to ask myself if I really believed it. Is God really good? Is he my good father? I wanted to believe he is; yet, what I felt was the weight of the suffering in my life and those of my loved ones. A myriad of questions and decades of distorted notions about the nature of God, suffering, and what he really wants for me gripped my heart.
I know the theological answers. My bookshelves house the apologetics books. However, I struggled to disentangle my heart from the interpretations and applications that countless religious authorities and random people advocated as “what God wants.”
So, I let myself question. I wrestled, and still do, with suffering and the heart of God. Is it God’s plan for us to suffer or live abundantly? Or to live abundantly in the midst of suffering? Does God want our sacrifices and reparations or for us to find joy in each detail of daily walk with him? Does he call some people to extreme suffering or all of us?
I know that the existence of suffering doesn’t negate God’s goodness. I know that sin introduced pain and suffering in the world and that God allows it. Free will and all that. I know God redeems suffering. I know good things don’t always feel pleasant.
But. I’ve stared in the face of evil and lives devastated, and the wounds are real. When those wounds are soul-deep, and healing is a lifetime process, and truly embracing love is the hardest thing…the words good, good father can feel like a slap.
So, I didn’t listen to Good Good Father. Part of me prayed and questioned. Part of me rolled my eyes like a petulant child whenever the song came on the radio. But, I kept asking God to show me who he really is, how he loves, and what he wants for me. I asked him to let me experience his love in ways I never have, ways that exceed my comprehension.
I paid attention to people I trusted who talked about God as a good father. However, I didn’t actually believe them…until I heard their story. I needed to know their pain, their wounds, before I could begin to wrap my mind around a good God.
I started letting the song play when it came on the radio. I listened to the lyrics. I didn’t embrace it, but I listened.
You’re a good, good Father. It’s who you are. It’s who you are. It’s who you are. I knew I was supposed to believe this, but I didn’t embrace it.
I am loved by you. It’s who I am. It’s who I am. It’s who I am. This I believed. I’ve spent last several years embracing this bit by bit. But what does it look like for God to love me in my wounds? What does he think of my wounds? I wasn’t sure.
I came across a video by Sarah and Phil Robbins on the power of prayer. Watching it, I experienced a moment when something in me shifted. Though I’d heard the general ideas they shared many times in my life, something in the way they spoke changed something in me. Among other things, they spoke about the nature of God and how they prayed over everything in their lives. They mentioned the song Good Good Father specifically, sharing how they sing it and pray it over their infant son daily.
I began intentionally listening to Good, Good Father. (Chris Tomlin version) I started meditating on the lyrics. I even sang them out loud.
You’re a good, good father.
You are perfect in all of your ways.
I am loved by you.
I don’t understand it completely, but I know these are the basics.
I try to imagine how it looks when I love my children to the best of my ability. How do I think of them? What do I want for them?
How I see the payoffs of them enduring through hard things, even when they can’t see it.
I think of the people who love me well and what they want for me. I trust them. Then I think of how God loves perfectly, exponentially better than me and the humans I trust. It begins to help me understand a little more.
So, I sing:
You’re a good, good Father. It’s who you are. It’s who you are. It’s who you are.
I am loved by you. It’s who I am. It’s who I am. It’s who I am.
As he tends to do, God changed me. I now crave this song. It has become a part of my morning routine to orient me for each day.
It often brings tears to my eyes because each time I focus on the lyrics, I am affirming that I believe God is my good father. I believe he is perfect, and who I am…is loved by him.
This doesn’t mean life is easy, however. I still have very little “figured out.” For me, it means I am grounded in a firm foundation. It’s putting on my armor each day of this God-sized dreaming journey, prepared as best I can be, for whatever the day holds.
It’s where I am. It’s where I am. It’s where I am.
I am loved by him.
Photo credit: Nick Kenrick
Shared by: Mandy Mianecki