The human being is made in the image and likeness of God.
In the Image of God the Father. Do we ever think of what this is? Have you ever wondered what it could mean in your life? How often we travel through our days never contemplating the depth of this thought
Some years ago, I was given the chance to ponder these words. As one of our children struggled through the senior year of high school, life’s struggles fell heavily on her shoulders. Not only were there the common teen struggles hovering over her, but the mystery of who am I was strong in her life. Growing up between two very strong A-type sisters and not always sharing their outlook on how to do things, was tough. She was surrounded by rebellion, and the friends she chose were also struggling greatly in their own lives.)
After a while, it became apparent to us, the parents, that this was not the healthiest of situations. As time went on and graduation approached, the separation from family grew wider and wider. In the family, we had developed a tradition of taking the graduate out for dinner after the graduation. On graduation night we were told, not asked, that she would be going to one of her friend’s homes. I took the announcement as a personal slap in the face and was very angry, to say the least. Sad to say, I let this hurt and anger come between myself and my child.
As summer began, we would not see or hear from her for days at a time. We didn’t know where she was or what was happening. All we could do was pray and ask the Blessed Mother to care for her. As time went on, I began to think about God the Father. How often have I turned from him? How often have I been unfair to him in my actions! Then these words popped into my head: “We are made in the image and likeness of God.” Needless to say, I had questions to ask myself and to answer!
If I am the image of God, how should I be responding in this situation? Is God angry with me when I hurt him by sin and failure? Does he turn me away or “kick me out of his life? No, just the opposite! He tries to lead me back and welcome me with open arms. So what should I do for my child?! Later, I shared this re-awakening with my wife.
The first time an opportunity arose, I asked my child if I could have a word with her. We sat in my bedroom and I told her of my pain and my discovery. If I was to be like God the Father, I must act like God the Father would. As a father, I am called even more to be like him. God does not turn away from me when I hurt him or leave him but awaits my return with open arms. I have a place awaiting me in heaven if I want it, so she would always have a place in our home. When I am hurt and down I can turn to God and our Blessed Mother and find comfort, so too can she turn to us in time of need. I may not react with a mother’s unending blind love, but I will always try to act with a father’s unending care.
After my talk with our daughter, my wife and I discussed how we could best assist healing and growth for her. Realizing that one of the biggest problems facing this daughter was the conflict she perceived between herself and her younger sister (four years and opposite personalities can be very unsettling for a teenager), our first solution was to offer to purchase a used travel trailer that she could live in on our property. She would be responsible for the upkeep and when she had a job some rent would be expected from her. This solution opened a door so that she might feel free to join the family again.
A physical return home would be short-lived. Still feeling pressured to conform and realizing that the friends around her were not the best for her, she decided to act upon an offer to leave Texas and move to California. Though we had phone contact with her and many calls, it would be five years before she would visit. For our fortieth wedding anniversary in 2016, our children planned a family reunion. This daughter would come with the young man she was dating. In two and one-half years more, she and her fiancé would come to live with us while awaiting her wedding day.
With God’s grace and our Blessed Mother’s intercession, she has been able to bring her life together. She has returned to God, Faith, and Family. She is a successful young woman. Her life’s journey continues as a newly married wife and one who travels with a husband at her side.
Is trying to live in this image and likeness of God easy? NO! It is a challenge for a person. At times we are called to move and act in a manner contrary to the way we might feel at the moment. But to do so may also open unseen doors which may never have had a chance to show themselves in our life. Our life can be enhanced and blessed beyond our dreams.
Apostolic Family Federation, San Antonio, TX