Chained by the Father Metaphor, Day 9

When I was small, very small, I would dip my saltine crackers in hot sauce, eat sardines, and drink black coffee, because that’s what my daddy did. Once through the field with a bird dog, his rifle pointing to heaven, we headed to a place we could crouch down and watch for quail. The wind blew hard. He talked about his own daddy, and I was silent. We both knew the power of wanting to be pleasing in a father’s eyes, his daddy gone for a few years by then.

Seeing my own daddy be happy gave me a sense of purpose that I really couldn’t maintain, so I took up a little habit of lying to get the job done, which turns out, wasn’t very pleasing at all. Go figure; teenagers aren’t as smart as they think they are. Even still, there came a time that I chose to do whatever it took to not disappoint him and the church model he’d given me. I had an abortion in secret, and I moved away to a Christian school to try to learn how to be a good girl.

I can look back now and see that all he wanted was obedience, and he would have loved me no matter what. I see now that idolatry even of a good father can twist the truth so that all chances of pleasing him are squashed. Idols lie.

On the other hand, I have dear ones who don’t believe in God at all, especially God as Father, because their own daddies were such duds. Every metaphor on earth, marriage, parenthood, water, and money, it all points to what is found in the Trinity, and I’m learning that any time we worship the metaphor, instead of the God to which the metaphor points, we are setting ourselves up for failure. All things point to God, but created things break down, marriages and land, and I’m learning to see that ultimate fulfillment is only in Jesus.

Years later, the family gathered around him for his birthday. We were all four there, his children grown, and we gave Daddy a framed photo. He and his daddy were in a field, both leaning on a rake. They had sweat on their brows. They were working together, and the sight of it made my big, strong daddy cry. We’re just working together here, me and my boys, too. I was full grown when I finally saw my daddy as human, flawed to the core, and that’s when I really came to love him, when I wasn’t idolizing him anymore.

Hardly a thing makes me happier than seeing him be happy, but I’m no longer afraid to disappoint my daddy.

downloadable art here: Abba! Father!

There’s a freedom I hear about that I just don’t always recognize in my life. I long to be free so much that maybe I’ve built a habit of feigning it. I would love it if you would like to join me in exploring this path to true freedom, A Study of Chains in 31 Days. You can follow along on Facebook or subscribe to these posts by email or in a reader. {Thank you so much, by the way, for walking with me.} Are you ready to shirk these chains?


  1. Oh my stars, this right here: ” I’m learning that any time we worship the metaphor, instead of the God to which the metaphor points, we are setting ourselves up for failure.” I will remember this.

    A perfect morning for me is one where I can curl up with a cup of tea and soul-cleansing words like yours. I’m so thankful for you, Amber, and I can’t begin to count all the reasons why. Love you so much!
    Kristen@Chasing Blue Skies recently posted..When Giving Up Is the Right Thing to Do

  2. When you write your heart, and you always do, you inevitably write my story. Different details, same story. Thank you for being so open and honest and in the process blessing and encouraging and teaching.
    Linda recently posted..Stepping Through the Veil

  3. Chills.

    Idols always lie, don’t they? They are always a substitute. But they are poor ones. Blessed are we when we realize it.
    Kelly @ Love Well recently posted..Fashion Update

  4. i get this. this could be my story…in a slightly different order and with a few different details. but my heart hears your heart and perhaps even carries it.

  5. I could relate to much of this. Complicated, the relationships we girls have (or don’t) with our daddies. Thank you for sharing this part of your story.
    Brandee Shafer recently posted..The Boy

  6. We’ll do almost anything to please those we love. I’m sure your Daddy treasured that photo!
    Margaret recently posted..5 Secrets to the Best Night’s Sleep Ever (And Why It Matters)

  7. There are SOOOOO many issues I have with God as Father and I’m one of the lucky ones! I have an AMAZING dad, but he is an authority figure who I want to please and am fearful of displeasing, as well, and the punishment that ensues. Great post!
    the Blah Blah Blahger recently posted..GOING TO CHURCH ALONE SUCKS

  8. um, amber? i am new here and just went back and read your love mixtape. i am stunned. i couldn’t walk away, even though my husband was wandering around trying to unpack things and pestering me with questions. you do have the sixth sense, you know? please please please i want to know who else writes like you. or maybe just your words on paper so i don’t have to sit at a screen.
    D.L. Mayfield recently day

  9. Really, words fail me right at this moment. Your words reasonate down in my soul and make me think~hard and long and deep. I lost my dad to cancer when I was in college and I think I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to fill the gaping hole in my life. He wasn’t my idol, but he made me feel like I was OK…complete. Thank you for your authenticity this afternoon…
    Lori Harris recently posted..31 Days of Grace: Day 9 {When Your World Tilts and You’re Left Spinning}

  10. Dearest wife,

    This is very good.

  11. Your words here, this study of chains, is softening up and whispering life to dormant places, Amber. Thank you for this.

  12. I think I could write a post on most every line you wrote in this. It is so rich with reality. But, I want to just thank you for what you said here:

    “All things point to God, but created things break down, marriages and land, and I’m learning to see that ultimate fulfillment is only in Jesus.”

    I love some metaphor…but yes, though all things DO point to God, nothing rightly represents Him. I paraphrase some great theologian – maybe it was Rohr, to say …” Every thought or grasping of God we maintain is only in reality, idolatry. No metaphor or simile hold Him.

    Sometimes I forget that freedom…to not have to really know…much less understand or articulate. Yes, more thankful for Jesus, our Help, everyday.

    I’m loving this series, Amber.
    Kim recently posted..this boy

  13. This is so beautiful and touches a tender place in my own heart. Thank you, Amber!
    Kathryn recently posted..what gratitude can do

  14. any time we worship the metaphor, instead of the God to which the metaphor points, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

    There is such wisdom in your writing, as well as the beauty. Thank you,
    And did I mention how much I am loving this series? I am loving it. :-)
    Tanya Marlow recently posted..One Book

  15. Break down the idols for us, darling. You are so right and I can’t help but feel like you are such a leader in each of these posts. I don’t know if you feel it yet, but you are. You guide us and we say ok, yes, I see that, where to next?
    Airs recently posted..Small style: Velvet pumpkin edition

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