Three Taverns Church

Unlearning The God Of My Childhood


“(God) was either an avenging tyrant we were afraid to approach, the great Authority Figure, a Santa Claus, or some other reflection of our distorted attitudes and dysfunctional relationships.”
SA White Book, Step 11

Oh yeah…that’s me for sure. When I screw up God is an avenging tyrant…and I screw up a lot. Or He is the Morality Police, always monitoring my behavior, the guy I have to ask permission to do anything for fear of upsetting Him.

God is, of course, also Santa Claus to me because the list of things I haven’t asked Him for is shorter than the list of things I have asked for. If I’m good, God Claus will almost certainly give me what I want. If I’m bad, Santa Christ will leave coal in my stockings…so I better be good for goodness sake!

In this way I can see that I modeled God after my mother and father: I had to keep God happy, follow God’s rules, being careful to never upset God with my bad behavior. But this ‘God’ was also someone I could hide from and keep secrets from. I could do ‘bad things’ in secret and get away with it. For me and others like me, my adult life is spent unlearning the ‘God’ of my childhood and re-learning who God really Is. I have to learn that God does give gifts, but does so because He loves me and not because I’ve been ‘good’. I believe God also disciplines me through consequences, but again, He does so because He loves me and wants me to change, not because I’ve been ‘bad’. God monitors my behavior, but not because He wants to make sure I’m following the rules. I cannot hide from the real God, but then again I shouldn’t want to hide from Him. When I want to hide from God I am most certainly engaged in one kind of self-destructive behavior or another.

Who is God to you? Are you worshiping the true God, or a false image formed in childhood?

2 thoughts on “Unlearning The God Of My Childhood

  1. To avoid a lengthy comment to this compelling question I will try and be concise. My mom encouraged a belief in God and attending church for myself and my siblings growing up. My dad stayed at home and made Menudo on Sundays. But believing in God and going to church never synced up for me. I believed in God, but didn’t feel connected to Him at worship services, so once I went to college I didn’t attend church for the next 10 years. After 6 years, I experienced my first real taste of “the hardships of life” and lost my faith for a short while. I was angry that God wouldn’t answer my question of WHY these things were happening, but I wouldn’t have learned anything if he HAD answered me. I had to learn to trust Him and push through it all to know things WILL get better. I accept and trust that there is some sort of growth coming out of EVERY hardship in life, and this has encouraged me to live as honestly as possible and forgive myself often. God teaches me the best way for ME to live MY life and follow HIS will as best as I can. Short example: I left all familiarity behind and moved to a small town an hour from my parents’ new home. Six months after moving I was at my dad’s bedside as he breathed his last breaths. Six months after he died I met the man I’ve been looking for my whole life, the man God had intented for me, and a little over a year after that we are now expecting our first child (a day overdue actually). God’s been hard at work for me and I for Him, and I have faith it will always be worth it.

    • Excellent comment and personal story! Thanks for sharing!

      I think you best point was that hardships are essential to growth. Of course, it sucks when we go through those times, and I can’t blame anyone for quitting because life can be so ridiculously hard sometimes. But for those who push through there is always a reward waiting.

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