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Jul 01, 2021 540 Luke Lancaster, USA
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Fear Not!

Have you let the past with your earthly father define your future with your Heavenly Father?

I was born and raised just north of Tampa, Florida, USA. My Mom and Dad were Catholic, and raised me as a Catholic from the cradle. However, things went downhill when I was six. My parents separated and my Dad filed for divorce. A custody battle ensued until my parents got back together when I was eight. Little did I know that this was just the beginning.

When I was ten, my Mom filed for divorce. She was awarded custody, but I still had to visit my father. He had many good qualities—a hard-working, thrifty, and sporty guy—but there was one downfall to his personality that seriously damaged my relationship with God, and that was his lack of patience. One moment he would be happy, but if you accidentally spilled a glass of milk, he would blow up and start verbally berating you. This atomic-bomb type of anger could affect children in one of two ways. Either a child develops a thick skin and becomes uncaring, so it can be brushed off; or a child develops a tremendous fear of making mistakes and starts walking on eggshells. I did the latter. This is important to note because it was a perfect setup for me to develop scrupulosity.

Our human fathers are supposed to be images of our Heavenly Father, God (Ephesians 3:14-15). Whatever your earthly father does, including his qualities, how he speaks, and how he acts will be reflected in your image of God. So, when I was a teenager, I started seriously fearing my Father in Heaven. I walked on eggshells each day, thinking that at any moment, I would commit a mortal sin and be destined for Hell. In every thought, every word, and every action, I thought I might be sinning.

To give an example: when I would eat a small chicken sandwich from Wendy’s, I thought it would be gluttony to eat a second. But I was not certain, and would go back and forth over the morality of eating the next sandwich. This obsessive-compulsive disorder caused me to drop twenty pounds off an already thin frame.

I thought things were sinful when they were not. In fact, I would take up all of the priests’ time in the confessional. Praise God, I had an excellent pastor at my church who patiently counseled my struggling conscience. But this was only the tip of the iceberg. My whole image of God was bizarre. What I needed was a gentle and patient father-figure. After I graduated from high school, I attended Ave Maria University in south-west Florida. It was there that I would start to have my fear dealt with. I would go to the chapel every day, and began to understand the love of God my Abba.

A song kept coming back to me when I prayed— “Shoulders” by “For King and Country.” The words, “I don’t have to see to believe that you’re lifting me up on your shoulders, your shoulders”, revolutionized my thinking and changed my heart. Over time, my fear started to change into love. God saw me as His Beloved Son, with whom He was well pleased (Mark 1:11). He is a gentle Father, who takes into account my weaknesses. As the Psalms say, He is “slow to anger.” I developed a little litany for God, my true Father:

Father most gentle (1 Kings 19:12).

Father most kind (Isaiah 40:11).

Father most generous (Matthew 7:11).

Father most sweet (Psalm 23:1).

Father most humble (Luke 2:7).

Father most soft-spoken (1 Kings 19:12).

Father most joyful (Zephaniah 3:17).

Father most supportive (Hosea 11:3-4).

Father most loving (1 John 4:16).

Father most affectionate (Jeremiah 31:20).

Father most tender (Isaiah 43:4).

Father, my protector (Psalm 91).

I urge you to read those passages as I have, and grow in your intimate relationship with the Father. The path towards healing and wholeness is open to you. Join me on that journey.

Let us always remember these words from Saint Therese of Lisieux, “What sweet joy it is to think that God is just. He takes into account our weakness, He knows the fragility of our nature perfectly. What should I fear?”

(Story of a Soul by Saint Therese).

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Luke Lancaster

Luke Lancaster is the Director of Biblical Apologetics for the website stpeterinstitute.com and writes short articles answering objections to the Catholic Faith. He lives in the Tampa suburbs of Florida.

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