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Will the Real Father

Please Stand Up

by Mark C Preissner


Copyright 2017 Mark C Preissner

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Will the Real Father Please Stand Up Copyright 2017 by Mark C Preissner. All rights reserved. For permissions visit: www.Healingyourhearts.org

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Cover photo Jeremy Scholz




Chapter 1. Who Is God

Chapter 2. How We See God

Chapter 3. Making God Personal

Chapter 4. Does God Have Emotions

Chapter 5. Is God Safe

Chapter 6. Why Bad Things Happen To Us

Chapter 7. When God Intervenes

Chapter 8. God’s Good Laws

Chapter 9. Getting to Know Him

About the Author


A preface establishes the scope and reason for the book.

This book is guided by the call and goal of evangelism.

We are called as Christians to evangelize.

One definition of evangelism is to talk about how good you think something is.

Another is to preach the Gospel in order to convert someone to Christianity.

The word Gospel means good news.

I have always felt awkward witnessing to others. I think because I was missing the reason for doing so. What do I really want to do? Get people to become Christian, or come back to the Church, if they no longer participate? Do I want people to become Catholic? Do I lead them to Jesus in order to be saved from Hell?

I have discovered that the Father is the reason to evangelize. Perhaps that should be obvious?

John 3:16, the reference posted on placards and signs, in stadiums etc. is the focal point of evangelism. It begins “God so loved the world that He sent” Jesus. This reference to “God” is a reference to God the Father. This is what I have missed. The Father motivated by longing and love for us, made the first move. He asked Jesus to do a very difficult thing.

The answer to the question of why to evangelize is relational. We need to learn about how good the Father is, and why we would want to be with Him. The evangelistic message is about someone's love for you. Someone must love us a whole lot to ask Jesus to do what He did. That someone is the Father. Evangelism is not to a place called Heaven. It’s to a person we call the Father, who lives in a place called Heaven. The good news is Father God loves you, more than anyone else does.

Do we know this Father? Have you been a Christian, and yet not know the Father? Evangelism only makes sense if we personally know and understand who the Father really is.

The Church has been talking more and more, that the people in the pews also need to be evangelized. I think most get the idea of salvation. But do they know the One behind it all, the One who is behind all we call Christian? Stated simply do you personally know the Father? Have you opened your heart and life to Jesus, and not met His Father?

The Father has been misrepresented in many ways. We have drawn conclusions about Him that have deterred us from getting to know Him. This book is designed to describe and defend the Father in such a way, that we will allow Him to become our Father.

Without this primary relationship, it is difficult to evangelize. Yet in a personal, warm, safe relationship as His son or daughter, it is easy to talk about how good He is, and why others should meet Him.


For many years, one of the most watched game show on TV was “To Tell the Truth” created by Bob Stewart. It began in 1956 and was pretty successful through the 70’s. It was still being produced in 2016. The show featured four panelists, who had to correctly identify a described contestant who had an unusual background, occupation or experience. To make it difficult there were 2 imposters, besides the real central character. The imposters were allowed to lie. But if the real person was asked a question, they had to tell the truth, hence the name of the show. So after many questions and many answers, the judges would declare who they thought the real character was. Then the real life person was asked to stand up, revealing himself.

The actors who pretended to be the real person were often quite convincing in their answers. Pretty often, the folks watching, and the 4 panelists misidentified the real person. This book is about God the Father. We have come to define who the Father is as a result of all sorts of input. But frequently, who we think He is, is not actually who He is. We have been confused by misinformation. I want the “real Father” to stand up and be recognized.

I have written this book from a unique perspective. My wife Pat and I are prayer ministers to people’s hearts. Some call it Inner healing. Through the last 15 years, we have discovered our own misconceptions of who the Father is. We have also heard people's own private opinions of Him. A very large percentage of them, do not pray to the Father at all. This is because we see God through the prism of our parents. They were God to us first. They shaped our view of how authority figures look out for us, provide for us, or disparage us. It has affected our perception of the Father. If one were to ask what fatherly or motherly looks like, you would either get a confused look, or a “well I know what it's not” kind of answer. Many could not actually describe it as it should be. New parents struggle with what is appropriate parenting.


In prayer ministry, we see that if the client’s parents were demanding and difficult to please, they also saw God as demanding and never satisfied. If parents were absent or uninvolved in their life they saw God as not there for them. If a parent was harsh, critical or abusive, they were afraid to approach God the Father. If parents were not affectionate as adults the client would have trouble seeing the Father as warm and inviting and nurturing. We pray through all the childhood hurts and wounds that have deeply affected how they relate to God. The result is that they then can see God in a whole new way.

When Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), He was saying that impure hearts will shape how we see God. Our hearts are full of sinful reactions toward Mom and Dad. Even if they did not intend to hurt us, we still emotionally react. Especially below the age of six or seven our heart (our mind has not developed enough to be rational) thinks “You did this to me on purpose!” We make lifelong judgments toward them and start dishonoring them. We also start protecting ourselves from more mistreatment. This isolates us from God, as well as from those around us. The enemy takes advantage of these childhood hurts, and we start to believe lies such as we are not lovable. Bitterness can be deep and buried within us toward the ones who cared for us. Unforgiveness locks us into these buried childhood reactions. All of this shapes our view of God.

If you were to investigate your own childhood reactions, you would quickly discover how all this would cloud your judgment about who God is. So just as the prism changes sunlight into many various light colors, our family history changes how we see God the Father. But there is one more interesting thing Jesus is saying. Both in the Hebrew and the Greek, the word “see” means something important. It means more than I “see” a picture on the wall. It actually means that we can be acquainted with God in an experiential way. In other words it means we would not just know about God we would experience Him. So another way to hear Jesus say this is by contrast: “if you have an impure heart, you will never experience God as He truly is.”


I tell folks that inner healing is not just simply about feeling better about ourselves or to rid ourselves of negative emotions, but to improve our relationship with God. A proper way to look at heart healing is about reconciliation with God, others, and with ourselves. All of that baggage we carry from life experiences makes it difficult to love God, our neighbor and ourselves as the commandment requires of us.

Have you ever wondered why God the Father sent His Son to earth? Your answer may include something like “well to save us from our sins.” That would be correct, but misses so much. It doesn’t really tell us much about the Father’s heart, or why He did it.

Allow me to tell a true story. Prayer sessions with people are confidential. But I asked this man if I could share his story, for teaching purposes. He gave me permission, but I have changed his name to Alan. Alan was caught molesting children. We are living in changing times, but most people still look at that in disgust. They are labeled pedophiles. Even in prison, they are looked down on by other inmates. Alan went to prison, and had reformed his ways, and had tried to make restitution to those he had hurt. When He came to me He was still struggling with the temptation and a host of other addictions.

Alan had a terrible life. His Dad did not want him, and made that clearly known. Alan recalled being thrown angrily by him into his crib. His Dad otherwise was withdrawn except for the usual shouting matches between him and his mother. There was no emotional bond with his mother either. The only connection he remembers with her was sexual. She would inappropriately fondle him, for her own pleasure. She often called him a dirty little pig. She demanded perfection. He thought he could please her, by cleaning his room perfectly as she ordered. But when she came to inspect, she looked angry that she could not find anything to complain about. Then she pulled out a dresser from the wall and found dust bunnies on the floor. “See what you missed!” He sadly gave up trying to earn her love. His grandmother was into the occult. She put a hex on him dedicating his life to Satan. When he came to me he felt there was this dark heavy cloud hanging over him, and often felt his throat gripped by an ominous hand. At the age of 7, his uncle, only a few years older than him, began to sexually abuse him. It went on for years. His uncle crushed a bird's head in front of him and told him that is what would happen to him if he told anyone. Alan was empty and isolated starving for love. He turned to drugs and alcohol to deaden the pain. He eventually tried to get this love need met through children.

His story humanizes him. Perhaps he was more than just a pedophile. But he left a string of broken and devastated children behind him. My own wife was abused sexually. It is not lost on me how awful a crime this is. We have ministered to countless women and men who have been exploited in this way. Sexual abuse seems to have one of the most devastating effects on the human spirit. It also has a harsh impact on how they view God.

Alan understood why people did not want him around their children, or to live in their neighborhood. He respected their fears. He still struggles with what He has done and how God sees him. One day he shared a spiritual experience He had in prison. It was still very real to him. Somehow he found himself in heaven. It was incredibly beautiful. All around him were wonderful and beautiful angels, to beautiful to describe. He noted they were singing stunning songs of praises to God. Then in the distance he saw someone walking towards him. As he got closer he somehow knew this was Jesus.

Jesus dressed in brilliant white, came and picked him up and turned around carrying him somewhere. Alan said he felt very uncomfortable. He saw his clothing and body covered with black grease and black tar. He felt embarrassed. Jesus carried him to someone sitting on a throne. He somehow knew this to be the Father. To his horror, Jesus began to place him on the Father’s lap. He protested loudly, “No, I shouldn’t be there, I don’t belong there!!” He was beside himself and turned back to protest more to Jesus. To his shock he saw Jesus covered in black grease and tar. He looked at himself and saw his clothing new and clean.

In his head Alan knew this is the bible story. This is salvation. But sitting on the Father’s lap? You can understand perhaps why Alan did not feel welcome there. How about you? Do you think he should be there? If you were abused, can you imagine your abuser on the Father’s lap? I understand how painfully difficult that might be. Would you feel comfortable, yourself, on His lap? Jesus was sent to bring you to His Father. If I say: “the Father wants you”, what gut feelings does that invoke? Does that sound inviting? Who is this person who wants you on his lap, and why?

Chapter 1 Who is God?

I have observed many former Catholics, many still friends of mine who have had what they call a born again experience. This experience they say has changed their life. They say they never knew God loved them, and that the Catholic Church never showed them this. This experience of giving their life to Christ, and asking Him into their hearts, opened the door to a personal relationship with God, and they now feel saved and loved.

They seem angry at the Church, calling it a dead religion, full of laws and regulations. They feel if Jesus was here today, He would speak to them like he did to the Pharisees, whom He condemned for putting heavy yokes on people's necks. They may be mistaken over why Jesus was upset with the leaders of the Jewish faith, and their comparison with the Catholic Religion. But their dismay, and sometimes condemnation of the Catholic Church, should not be ignored.

I grew up in a small town where most of the people were Catholic. We lived 3 houses from the Church, and our family took turns pulling the long belfry ropes to summon people to prayer and to Church. I persuaded the good Sisters, at age 7, to allow me to serve at Mass, one year earlier than normal. As a new altar boy I carefully learned and recited the Latin prayers. But the mass made little sense to me. Yet my heart was drawn to be there, and the pew was never close enough. I had to be in the sanctuary.

Our Pastor at the time, Father Mike Drexler, noted that he would never give a homily, without mentioning the 10 commandments. To him it was essential to keep reminding people, of the danger of breaking these commandments. I still picture him, kneeling in the sanctuary, after hearing dozens of confessions. I was told that he was praying to give over to God the heavy weight of all the things he had heard, and to keep pure himself. Later as a teenager, my sins started causing me to separate from God, and my attendance at mass grew sporadic. I took a job as a janitor, at the same church, and I grew to be friends with this priest. We sometimes, golfed together, where he confided his own vices. I felt comfortable with a fellow sinner. When he died I attended his funeral which was a moving experience as I felt like the church was full of hundreds of happy Angels.

I was fired from this job, and was growing more and more deviant. I was happy with my life, yet unaware of the train wreck I was heading towards. I grew up with my parents leading us in the daily rosary. I knew their concerns, about the paths all of their six children were taking. Their prayers, I am sure, brought us all back to the Church and to God.

For me it took a Divine encounter! A bout of loneliness, because my best friend left for the war, caused me to enroll in a Life in the Spirit Seminar at a Catholic convent In Kimberly Wisconsin. It gave me something to do. I wasn’t searching, just bored. The nice folks teaching the seminar were trying to point out the error of my ways, but I would not have any part of it. I was in full rebellion mode. They must have wondered why I was there. I was told later they were storming heaven for me. The prayer meetings were open to people of all Christian faiths. One night after the seminar, while people were still socializing, an evangelical (non Catholic) man, pressured me into seeing my need to pray the “sinner's prayer.”I didn’t know what he was talking about at the time. But he basically wanted me to admit to being a sinner, and to ask God’s forgiveness. He pressured me to ask Jesus to come into my heart, so that I could become born again, and get saved. The leaders were unhappy about his approach to me. The seminar was including similar evangelization, but they were using a slow gentle approach to me. To get him off my back I prayed his written prayer, and snickered when he asked me, if I felt all warm inside with Jesus in my heart. You are delusional, I thought. Yet even though I thought he was an idiot, God was using him to rattle this 19 year olds cage.

I left the prayer meeting and went for a few beers with my friends. Late that night I arrived back at my parents home, and crawled into bed. What happened next was totally unexpected and astonishing. Jesus appeared to me. I know that sounds a bit incredible, but I saw his bodily figure. His hands stretched toward me, and spoke the simple words “Follow Me”. I was not the emotional type, but He spoke with a kind of firmness, that scared me. His simple words carried with it a tone of “I won’t take no for an answer.” All I remember was stammering out a weak “OK”. He disappeared, and that was it. It unnerved me.

Now the only people I recalled that had had Christ appear to them were kind of holy. And I surely was not that. There was pornography stuffed under my mattress, I cussed like a mule, smoked marijuana and was holding séances and doing other occult things. What on earth just happened? I remember Thomas the apostle, needing to see the Risen Christ, or he would not believe. Jesus said “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29 NLT)

I guess I needed a push?

The next day, it was my turn to do our families laundry. I got bored easily, and sitting in a Laundromat, on a Saturday was never enjoyable. I was there to clean clothes. God was there to clean my heart. I sat there, and, I was typically bored. There on the table next to me sat a Good News Bible, on top of the old worn out magazines, I had mindlessly leafed through before. I only knew it was a Good News version, because It seemed to be what everyone carried at those prayer meetings.

I’ve always loved reading, but rarely took the time. But I was a captive audience to that book, having nothing else to pass the time. So I picked it up, leafed through it and saw simple drawn illustrations. My Dad did cartoon illustrations, so they always appealed to me. I noticed on the cover there were simple instructions to turn to page 83. I’m an instruction guy...some never read the manuals...but that's not me. So I dutifully turned to that page. Underlined on the page were the words “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” and next to it turn to page 51. I did not linger there thinking about those words, I just followed the instructions. I was instructed to keep turning and reading various passages of the Bible. Then I reached a line that read “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do, times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus.” I lingered there.

I still had a conscience. Growing up it was a weekly activity in our family, to walk to church and confess your sins. I knew what these words meant, but I had hardly thought about sin in the past few years. Now while alone in that Laundromat, in Hilbert, Wisconsin, my conscience was coming to life. I really didn’t think about God. It was more of an urge to stop sinning. Perhaps it was that weak yes to Christ the night before, I don’t know. But, I decided to stop sinning. At that moment, it was the porn under my mattress that came to my mind. “I am getting rid of that god d**n s**t.” I know what you're thinking, but I was a work in progress.

I finished the laundry, and headed home. I climbed up to our bedroom loft, and pulled out all the books and magazines, thinking, how in the world could I sleep on top of all that? I filled a grocery bag and headed out to the burning barrel, and started it all on fire. It felt right.

I was 19 years old. I had no plans for my future, other than to work, which I loved to do, and to build, and live in an A frame house near a cottage our family owned. I was not relational. Living by myself seemed perfectly normal. My world was being impacted, and the future was uncertain, but it felt good. Matthew Kelly in his book “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” states that every Catholic needs “at least one really good conversion (event) in our lives.” I guess I was having mine.

A snowstorm caused us to miss the prayer meeting when we would have been prayed with for what Cardinal Suenens called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which was sweeping the world in the Charismatic Renewal. I didn’t know what that all meant, I just wanted the gift of a new prayer language traditionally called glossolalia. I was into spiritual gifting like ESP, and communicating with dead people in Séances. They were trying to get me to renounce all these non Catholic gifts, but I liked them. What was God thinking? Did he see past all this? I really did not know what to make of God, I believed He was real. But I really only knew God from the back of the church, where I sometimes stood, unwilling to go in. In my naiveté, I just wanted to have the gift of tongues.

I dragged my sister Joan to join me in this seminar, and we were prayed with the following Friday. It was March 3rd. The date always stuck with me, because it was such a paradigm shift in my life. The Dominican sisters and a host of other people prayed with us, to receive this new experience from God. My sister started praying in tongues almost immediately! I wanted it and experimented with yielding my tongue to this speech. To my surprise when I started speaking, a whole bunch of unknown words tumbled out. I tried again and the same thing happened. I got it! Fr Francis Martin, recounted at a Charismatic Priests conference in Rome that Pope John Paul 2, also prayed in tongues.Fr Cantalamessa known as the the Pope’s preacher to Pope John Paul II, was a great promoter of glossolalia. He highly recommends in his books seeking this prayer, to help us commune with God. Again, I was not so spiritually motivated, but wanted it as a paranormal gift.


But something happened that night. My simple yielding seemed to bring about an awareness of Jesus that I had never experienced. He was present to me in a tangible way. I was not an emotional person. Most people would say I was stoic. But I felt Him. This was new. I often heard people saying Christ said this or Christ died for us. But that now seemed so impersonal like calling me Preissner, instead of Mark. It was Jesus to me; we were on a first name basis. As a child, I think in my desire to be an altar boy, I wanted to be near Him. Sitting in the pew, was not close enough. Perhaps I felt Him up around the altar. I even desired to be a Priest. Are You the One I have always wanted to be close to? The Holy Spirit had apparently played an important part in linking me up with Jesus. He felt personal to me; I felt like when I talked to Him in my heart, that He heard me. Having a close friend, usually takes awhile to develop. But I felt like this was an instant friendship. I wanted to be with Him all the time and he seemed to want to be with me, and it was easy to do that!

I grew up with 5 siblings in a 1 bedroom, upper flat, above my Father's RCA: TV and radio, sales and repair business. After reading Ralph Martin's book “Hungry for God”, I felt motivated to carve out time each day to get to know Jesus. Our home was crowded and noisy and I wanted to have a place of quiet where I could spend time with God. I had decided early on, to drive down a dead end road near our home, to pray. I did that for awhile but it was becoming to cold to sit in the car. Perhaps my dad saw some changes occurring in me, but I know I shocked him when I asked him if I could turn our unused root cellar into a “prayer room”. He gave a surprised yes, and I transformed the room, into a little chapel.

I spent several years getting to know Him. He guided me into memorizing scripture. I think He knew my outlook on life was pretty heady and self centered. I loved having philosophical discussions, about all sorts of lofty things. So I began a rigorous campaign of memorizing one scripture each day. I did this for 72 weeks. My thoughts cleared, and perhaps had a little more of the mind of God.


While still enjoying, this newfound friendship, I began to discover the Holy Spirit. I remember talking to a lady from our parish, who said her relationship with God was mostly with the Holy Spirit. It surprised me. I never thought about the Holy Spirit in any personal way. I sort of imagined the Holy Spirit like “the Force” as Star Wars depicted. To me the Holy Spirit was more of an energy or influence, or action of grace. I read a book by the televangelist Benny Hinn called “Good Morning Holy Spirit”, which changed my whole perspective. Benny Hinn was raised by Catholic Nuns in Israel, and recent comments seem to indicate He is returning to his roots. He recommended that we spend time with the Holy Spirit, in order to get to know Him. I grew up seeing on the ceiling of our church sanctuary a kind of grotesque dove that had large holes through it. I suppose to give it a spiritual, otherworldly, more than a bird look. But it never gave me the idea that he was personal...just some kind of strange being out there.

I now decided to have most of my prayer thoughts directed to the Holy Spirit. I began to discover a side of God that I never knew was there. Hard to put into words, but the Holy Spirit seemed to have more emotion, more nurture. I would feel peace coming from him as I talked to Him. As time went on I never did anything without consulting him first. My daily prayer was “give me more wisdom.” Thoughts and plans and ideas started to come to me more easily, and I rarely made mistakes in judgment. I attributed this to His influence. Later as we grew close I referred to Him with a nickname. Sort of like when lovers call one another sweetheart or honey. I called Him “Pure Love.” I still have trouble saying “The” Holy Spirit. Because he was more than a “the” he was a real person, who could feel grieved if I ignored Him.


After many years of developing a relationship with Jesus and Holy Spirit, I made a discovery about God the Father. It is to Him who this book is dedicated! He asked me to write about Him.

Of course, I had known about Father God. The Mass is mostly one long prayer to Him. But I kind of kept my distance from Him. He did not feel as safe as Jesus.

This discovery begins with my earthly father. Walter, sometimes called Wally, was an adventurous person. He loved to fly airplanes, and to just be around them. The verse in Psalm 81:10 that says ‘I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God” (NIV), describes someone, who just wanted to be near something he loves, even if he cannot go in. That was my Dad. He never lost his love for the airplane, even if he could only look at them, and not fly them. In his younger years, we saw pictures of him riding motorcycles, and hunting and from his service in the Air Force. A slender man, at 6 foot and 118 lbs, he still held a prominent presence. As a boy he carved statues out of soap, and his love for art was contagious.

Many a Saturday, Daddy would fill the kitchen table with art supplies, inks and drawing pencils and more. His 6 children eagerly set to work and fun creating masterpieces. He loved musical instruments, and was always bringing some new music maker home to try. He would play his guitar, singing Whispering Hope, On Top Of Old Smokey, and Beautiful Beautiful Brown Eyes for Mommy.

They loved each other, and I never heard them argue. They would sit, on a little bench, in our tiny kitchen, side by side, looking out the window talking so soft we couldn’t hear. This was a common sight. He called her Peg, even though her name was Lucille. It came from the Irish love song: Peg O’ My Heart.” I love the songs line: “Come make your home in my heart.”

They say we get our first and lasting impression of God from our parents. Another former Pastor, Fr Ken Frozena, would often warn parents of this, in his homilies. After doing prayer ministry, the past 15 years, I am well aware of how distorted people's view of God is, because of the way parents misrepresented Him to their children. As a result people do not have a very good image of God the Father. This is why the Father wanted me to write this book. To help you discover who He really is.

My Dad often took us fishing and hunting, and swimming at our Lake Winnebago cottage. Sometimes he just took me. I remember sitting with him quietly, in a duck blind, drinking creamy coffee, munching on summer sausage sandwiches, and watching for that vulnerable duck to fly by. He would whisper to me and I would whisper back. I felt special.

I often had earaches, as a young boy, and I have pleasant memories of him holding and rocking me through the night. I mentioned before we lived close to the church. This was a blessing for my parents, who seemed to live there! It was a kind of second home, for us, and they were involved in many parish duties. At times we children resented being so close, as we were often called on to help the nuns or priests, with something. Our parents always happily volunteered us.

My mother was the main disciplinarian in our home. We were afraid of her. But sometimes, my dad would be the one to punish us. Spanking was the primary tool of discipline. But instead of a stick, he would roll up a newspaper. We would feign pain and cry loudly. I remember once I scared him by leaving our cottage and walking down the road, thinking they could pick me up on the way. He thought I got lost in the surrounding woods, as had happened once before. After eventually driving and finding me, he told me I was in big trouble and would get a spanking when we got home for not telling anyone where I went. That 5 minute drive home felt like 5 hours. I penitently followed my dad into the downstairs shop. But he relented, having calmed down, and told me, to avoid doing that again, and let me go out to play. He showed me mercy.

While a fatherly dad can help construct a good image of Father God, a motherly mom is just as important. When we ask clients, what was your Mother or Father like; we want them to be honest. Even as wonderful as my earthly father was, he struggled with his own sinful nature. When receiving prayer ministry myself, some of my most difficult life struggles came from my father.

Children are born to need love. Receiving love helps build trust in a God they do not yet know. Some children hope in their hearts that Dad or Mom loved them, even if they were mistreated. Other children were often reassured of this, and have no question about it. Either way, there is often this hesitation to not want to dishonor the parent. Good Christians should not do that...right? And they also don’t want to admit, that they were not loved, because that leaves them with such a sad view of their worth. As prayer ministers we want our clients to know that we are not there to be a judge of their parents’ intentions or actions. We leave that up to God. Prayer ministry though needs to uncover hurt from the important people in our lives. We need to talk about how things affected you, in order to bring about healing and change in how we view God, as well as how we relate to others and ourselves.

I say all this ahead of talking about my mother. I don’t wish to dishonor her either. Yet she impacted how I viewed God in a dramatic fashion. The fact is, I am able to honor her more now after prayer ministry, than I was ever able to do before.

My mother also came from a strong German background. Her father committed suicide, which she blamed on herself. There was a lot of alcoholism in her family. She left her home shortly after her mother died at 16. She suppressed her own emotions inside, and after spanking us told us to stop crying, or we would get spanked again. No disobedience to her rules was ever left unpunished. Her punishments would be swift and painful. No amount of pleading would ever let us off the hook. It was difficult to please her.

We had about an acre of land in which our parents and grandparents grew vegetables, berries and apples. Our family's annual income was in the $4000.00 range. So technically I guess we were poor. I never recognized that, but in many ways we did without and usually wore hand-me-downs. New clothes for school were old clothes that my mother repaired with new iron on patches. We spent our summers with numerous chores that often revolved around growing food and harvesting. We canned and froze enough to last the winter.

Parents from the depression years typically would never waste anything. There were strict rules about cleaning your dinner plate, even if it meant throwing up afterwards. Farm milk spoiled quickly, and when it did my mother would add cocoa syrup to hide the flavor...but we still threw up. Spoiled food was still eaten. Perhaps that is why we got sick a lot. In spite of being poor, I would watch my mother and dad buy large boxes of fruit and canned hams or turkeys for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, to bring to the convent and the parsonage. We would carry it all down to them. It was a demonstration of generosity that I could not understand. It was a long time before I knew what an orange or canned ham tasted like. I rued that God gets the good stuff, we get frozen berries and squirrel.

My mother expected perfection at all times. Picking berries was no exception. She would send me out to pick those 40 foot rows, and I would come back, with my container partially full. She would send me back out with an emptied bowl, and say “don’t come back till it’s full!” After returning hot and sweaty, she would send me across the street to give them to the neighbor. All that work, to give them away? I resented her.

I often thought my mother was stupid. I know that sounds harsh, but it reveals the bitterness that was growing within me. Actually my mother was forced to take a strong medication for epilepsy. I was traumatized once watching her fall to the ground shaking violently and foaming at the mouth. This medication slowed her brain function, and her concentration was terrible. As a little boy, I would start pouring out my heart to her and in the middle of my tearful story; she would walk away and start working.

My mother was a hand touching person, but could not hold and hug. Hugging her was one sided. We went for a hug and she stood there. My mom just could not yield to her emotions. Many of her siblings died young and her only reaction was this grim look on her face. It is typical in families of Alcoholic descent, to stuff all emotion, and voice and thought. After my parents got married, they chose to never have an alcoholic beverage, yet carried with them this dysfunctional attitude. I too, learned to stuff my feelings.

My mother seemed weak, and though my father looked out for her, she began to lean on me for support. I felt dutiful as middle children often do, to take care of her. She trusted me. As she developed dementia in later years, her inner attachment to me began to show. She took down all the pictures of my brothers and sisters, leaving only mine on the living room wall. That must have hurt my siblings.

Parents are given to us by God. As I said before, they reflect to us our first image of authority, and as such our first understanding of who God is. We have impressionable hearts as little children. And our young hearts, don’t forget childhood experiences, even if our minds do.

In the next chapter, I want to explore various parenting styles. That is necessary because various patterns of bad parenting affect our view of God negatively. For now I just want to say, that though my parents, did a pretty decent job of parenting, I came away with heart pain that caused me to feel that God was not who He said He was. In spite of studying Church teaching and memorizing many true things about who God was, a part of me would resist that. And that resistance came from my heart. I had difficulty having Faith. My mind would say God can do it, but my heart would ask, “But will He do it for me?”

Come along and explore with me, to discover, what may be in your heart that blocks you from knowing the true God. For now may I conclude with this. When my father died, I felt pretty lost without him. When he went into the nursing home, I felt terrible about how foreign all that was for him. My mother did not drive, and so depended on us to take her to visit him. I made a decision to visit him every day, to bring a little warmth to what seemed like a pretty cold place. I did that for several years, until he passed.

One evening while away at a religious conference, I was prostrate on the floor, well actually laying on my back. It was more of a helpless sad grieving position. Like what you feel when you feel you can’t go on, and can’t get up. I was complaining to God how I had no one to share my stories with, simple stuff like how big my latest fish was. I had grown accustomed to recognizing Jesus and Holy Spirit speaking to me in my thoughts over the years. The voice who spoke to me next was different, it was the Father. I will never forget that moment. He said “I will be your dad... tell me.” I had been crying, when he said this, and my tears continued but with some relief at this kind offer. But I don’t know you, I thought. I decided that day to get to know this new father. There was a lot I did not know about Him, and I had a lot of “heart issues” interference. Over time He has helped me to work through all that, and He wants to help you.

Chapter 2 How I see God

My Parents are different than yours. But we all have one thing in common. We have all been created by the same God. We did not get to choose our parents. God chose them for us. That may even make some people angry. I understand. It has been hard to listen to the heartbreaking stories of abusive and cruel parents, much less to have actually experienced that same pain. But God is our first parent, and to understand Him, we must wade through the pain of childhood to cross over to the real identity of God, and how He relates to us. Many ask “Why did God let poor parenting happen to us?”We feel angry toward God for seemingly forsaking us. Yet we have to get past the evil one’s temptation to us to blame God for what has happened to us.

We do not simply get past it by adult thinking and by a gallant ignoring of our childhood hurts. But rather we must be honest and look seriously at the pain of the past. The Holy Spirit helps us do that. We are languishing, because the past still clings to our hearts. We may stuff it all down and declare the past is the past. But our hearts never forget. Jesus said “Wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart” (Mark 7:21 (NAB), emphasis mine). He goes on to list all sorts of sinful behavior that comes from deep within. There are many places in the gospels where Jesus alludes to our heart condition. He knew it would break. Perhaps that is why he read those reassuring words from Isaiah 61, as he announced his ministry; “He (God the Father) has sent me... to heal the brokenhearted.”(NAB)

Two things happen when we are hurt by our parents or others (like classmates, school teachers’ babysitters…). Our hearts break, but we also have another heart reaction. This heart reaction is emotional. We are upset at the one who hurt us. We begin to resent them, and we can become very bitter. We don’t know or understand God’s call for reconciliation. We just simply begin to dishonor. We are naturally unforgiving, unless someone shows us how to reconcile. We also decide to protect ourselves from future pain. Our hearts begin to harden, with all sorts of protective walls. We can also resent ourselves and choose to believe awful things about ourselves. If all these reactions are left to themselves, we forget about them, but they maintain a hold on our outward behavior. These are the things in the deep recesses of our hearts that Jesus is referring to.

As I shared in the last chapter children are created with a deep need for nurture and love. We were very vulnerable when little because our hearts were fully open, and our minds not developed enough to process hurt. Children need to be protected, loved and nurtured to have trust and peace. How well we were loved, directly affects our view of God and life.

So it is, that our painful experiences long forgotten, affect us in real time today. They cause us to stop loving in all sorts of ways. We have trouble loving others, ourselves and of course God. We cannot ignore our hearts.

So I would like to lead you through some useful introspection, which will begin to alert you, to your own heart's condition, and why life does not always go well for you. It will also call attention to why you see God the way you do. Our view of God is distorted by the prism of imperfect parents. We are unable to see His amazing goodness, nor to experience His kind love. But there is hope. What Adam and Eve lost in the garden, in intimacy with God, can be recovered. I know this from personal experience.


I would like to go through three common parenting styles that cause wounding in children. I am not asking you to pummel your mom or dad or step parents. This is for you to understand how your reaction to their failures caused lifelong effects on you. You may hold bitterness toward them. This heart reaction towards them traps unforgiveness within you. This then leads to powerful childhood “heart” determinations of how you view life and people and God. Walk with me and do this introspection, to discover why you might see God the way you do. The following can describe one or both parents, and you can have more than one style in your home.

1a. The Strict disciplinarian parent

I already described my mother a little bit. She would fall in this category. They demand perfection. How they discipline will be different. They may simply make you feel ashamed for not getting all “A’s.” Or they may severely punish if the rules are not followed. They may or may not be fair rules. Obedience is what matters. Expectations are high, and being compared to others can be common. No arguing is permitted. There is only one goal. And you never seem to reach it. Love may be withheld, if goals are not reached. There are high standards in cleaning, chores, school, sports, and morality. How you live reflects on the parents, and you better not embarrass them.

A child growing up in this home becomes an adult who is never satisfied. The bar is always being raised higher, and they are striving to reach perfection. They find they must perform for love. They desire to be liked and do whatever they have to do to win people's approval. They are tired, from doing this, but will go into depression, if they stop doing this for any amount of time. They don’t ever feel quite forgiven if they fail. Shame is their companion. Their imperfections hang like a chain around their neck and do whatever they can to keep them hidden. As parents they demand the same from their own children. They are under great pressure to never make mistakes.

1b. How you would then see God

You would see God as very demanding. Going to confession is an admission of failure, and the inner disappointment and shame of that causes you to be less than honest. Or you would stop going to confession, to avoid the thought that you are letting God down. Some like me stopped going to church altogether, because of the constant reminder I needed to be good. Sometimes I would go to church, but hang around the narthex and never go in. I felt guilty and unworthy. Sometimes I would hide in a state of denial, no matter how many people pointed out my faults. I might also be quick to blame someone or something else, to avoid the feeling of guilt.

Some try to please this impatient God with lots of outward piety and religious activity. The fear of His punishment of Hell is a powerful motivator to be good. Behind all this striving is the belief, that God only rewards good behavior, and hides his face from you when you are bad. It is easy to fall into the temptation to believe what Protestants often accuse Catholics of, and that is doing good works in order to get Him to save us. Yet we have prayed with Protestants who struggle with this same Heart condition. This angry God can only be satisfied by our good and perfect loving deeds. The idea of being saved by God through Jesus does not seem to be enough. Far more of this responsibility rests on our shoulders.

Our minds may accept what scripture says, but our hearts resist it. For example St Paul says “that God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Rom 5:8, NIV. The Father declares that He loves us, even in our imperfections. No sin you can commit, can deter God’s love. But our hearts believe that love is withheld until we are perfect. I personally preferred to follow scriptures like “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”, because that fit my view of God (Matt5:8, NET).

If you had a strict disciplinarian parent, you would struggle with an unconditional love that flows from a merciful God, both for yourself and for others. Heaven is a reward for good behavior, or so I thought. Forgiveness, both receiving and giving it, does not easily fit into this mindset.

I was reminded of that recently. I was doing prayer ministry with my daughter.She was struggling with not feeling God’s mercy. It seemed that asking for forgiveness, never really gave her relief. We invited the Holy Spirit to search her heart. She remembered a family road trip we were on. I had stopped for gas. To help our 5 young children endure the long driving, I bought gum for them. I got in the car and started handing out the gum to their great delight. I was training them to say thank you, and when none of them did, I said ok give me back the gum. You didn’t say thank you so therefore, you lost the treat. They pleaded their apologies, but they broke the rule, and I would not relent. They had to learn this the hard way! I had become just like my mom, even though as a child I thought I would do things differently. But to my chagrin, I could not stop myself! Through this sad experience with me, my daughter looked at God as a taskmaster, who would not permit mistakes, who would not accept apologies. Only punishment would bring closure.

I had received ministry myself to root out this parenting style, and recognized my previous harshness. I had no need to defend myself. So I asked her to forgive me, and her hurt childhood heart forgave me. God was not finished and was determined to show her what He was really like. I prayed that Jesus would come to heal her and bring her truth. She saw a scene unfold in her mind. Jesus was walking up to her as a little girl holding out his hand with a piece of gum in it. He smiled at her and said “I give second chances.” My daughter's heart changed forever that day, and she now felt God’s mercy easily. Thankfully for all of us imperfect parents, God can restore a correct view of himself to our own children.

2a. The Parent who is absent

Maybe one of your parents was missing. They may have died, or left the family because of divorce, or gone for long periods of time because of work, illness or military duties. You may also be adopted and perhaps forever separated from your birth parents. It can also happen when the parent is present but is preoccupied by something, and is not there to father or mother you. This happened somewhat to me, because as I mentioned in the last chapter my mom was taking Phenobarbital for her epilepsy, and was unable to be fully mentally present.

Sometimes in utero, and sometimes at birth, the mom is not able to bond with the child. Maybe she had a miscarriage before you, and holds her heart back, lest you don’t make it. Sometimes you are whisked away because of complications, or mom is sick. Sometimes mom is simply not ready for another pregnancy. In these sometimes short moments, the child’s little heart is broken because it feels unwanted. Why don’t they want me is the deep cry within. This impression lasts into adulthood. There is this inward nagging doubt that you are desirable.

As with all parenting the involvement of our mom or dad whether good or bad has the most impact, on the younger years. We are more vulnerable to wounding at age 6 and younger because we live more from our vulnerable hearts. In the church, we recognize the age of reason to be more around age 7 or so. That is when we introduce the sacrament of reconciliation. It is then that we begin to process more logically. So a five year old tells you how they feel, not how they think. Perhaps the biggest impact on us from a missing parent is the lack of nurture. Both mom and dad play an important role in this nurturing. Mom cannot give what only dads can give and vice versa. So in this age of single parent families, wounding of neglect is inevitable.

The lack of being held, or touched or played with or being told you are loved is traumatic. We often first think of Type B trauma which involves things like war, assault, or rape. But Type A trauma is caused by neglect. A child needs this affection to stimulate their growth, and build a strong control center in the brain. The consequently weak mind makes the person very vulnerable to all sorts of difficulties with life. In particular there is a great difficulty in trusting. This is accompanied with a lot of fearful reactions to life. We can also struggle with what our purpose for life is.

Human beings were designed to need love. I’ve read stories of orphanages in Romania and elsewhere where children were not adequately touched, and developed all sorts of problems. Many adults who have read the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman conclude that physical touch is there love language. Often this is because of lack of bonding with mom or dad, but also because of the lack of physical touch growing up. And so they crave it.

We do a lot of prayer ministry in this area, because of how common it is. People crave affection and need lots of reassurance about living life. They have much insecurity, and are often indecisive. They often feel isolated and lonely, even when among people.

2b. How you would then see God

Again, we look at how this affects our relationship with God. There are all sorts of woundings when a parent leaves. Because you can feel unlovable and unimportant, it is hard to believe God wants to be around you. Even worse you can feel cast aside. This translates to inward feelings that God doesn’t need you or want you around.

Other heart breaking feelings of abandonment, make you very cautious to develop any connection with God (or anyone else for that matter), lest he abandon you to. You hesitate to bond with anyone, and this includes God. You may be in church, but don’t feel welcome there, and feeling alone, you then walk away with the same unmet needs.

You are afraid to risk a relationship with God, even though your head may know that you need God. But he just seems so far away, and so unreachable. This gives you the feeling of an orphan spirit, who is never really wanted, never really included, never really a part of. You are here and God is way out there somewhere. You can spend a lifetime of searching for him and never finding him. And you don’t think he is looking for you. Yet you crave His affection. Some people say they need a “touch” from God. And they really do!

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