It was difficult for me to call God “Father” for the longest time. It took me years to get there. Decades, even. I distinctly remember the first time I heard someone do that as they prayed out loud. They said, “Father, …” and then started saying the rest of their prayer. I was about 14 years old. It felt very presumptuous to me, not to mention awkward.
The more formal “Father in Heaven” or “Heavenly Father” was easier. Safer. It’s all I ever heard growing up. “Father Far Away” is what it really meant in my head and heart, which makes sense considering that my own father was “nearby” only three times in my life, that I’m aware of.
For me, what I call God when I pray, and what I call him when talking about him to others has been like an orphaned child that has learned to speak their native language and then being adopted by a family from a foreign country. That child has to learn a whole new language while navigating the familial relationships with everyone around them.
When you grow up fatherless words like Dad, Daddy, or my favorite, Papa, don’t roll off the tongue very easily at all. It actually feels quite awkward saying the words, forming them with your mouth and giving voice to them. Again, like trying to learn a foreign language.
When I think about all the terms of endearment my children use when talking to me, or referring to me, it warms my heart that Mom, Mommy, and my favorite, Mama, come easy for them.
It’s been a long journey for me, but I imagine that it warms God’s heart that I’ve navigated my way to feeling more familial in my relationship with Him. He has been endlessly patient with me in this process.
I’m a ways off from feeling comfortable calling God “Daddy”. That would be way too awkward and just plain weird. I’ve begun warming up to saying Abba when I pray alone, which is a Hebrew term of endearment like Papa. However, when I write in my prayer journal, it’s recently become “Abba Daddy”. I can see where this is heading and not only does it feel safe, I’m beginning to speak this language fluently, like I’ve known it all along.
What I know now, deep down in my knower, is that no matter how long it has taken me to get here, I’ve been The Apple of His Eye since I took my first tottering steps towards Him.