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?

About me


Where Healing Begins: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Sarah Jo Burch
November 23, 2015
When Home Is Within: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Mandy Mianecki
November 02, 2015
Dear Seth: A Marriage Letter on Your Sobriety and What it Looks Like to Come Clean
October 27, 2015
Learning to Bend: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Diana Trautwein
September 14, 2015
Who are you, really?
January 27, 2014
It is My Passion That You Know This
January 08, 2014
At the Crux
September 02, 2013
Poor and Powerless: My First Time to Speak
April 17, 2013
Let the Game Changer Change the Game: Part 1
April 10, 2013


Kristen@Chasing Blue Skies
Reply October 9, 2012

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!

Reply October 9, 2012

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.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply October 9, 2012


Idols always lie, don't they? They are always a substitute. But they are poor ones. Blessed are we when we realize it.

nicole i
Reply October 9, 2012

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

Brandee Shafer
Reply October 9, 2012

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.

Reply October 9, 2012

We'll do almost anything to please those we love. I'm sure your Daddy treasured that photo!

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply October 9, 2012

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!

D.L. Mayfield
Reply October 9, 2012

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.

Lori Harris
Reply October 9, 2012

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...

Reply October 9, 2012

Dearest wife,

This is very good.

Annie | annieathome
Reply October 9, 2012

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

Reply October 10, 2012

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 not have to really know...much less understand or articulate. Yes, more thankful for Jesus, our Help, everyday.

I'm loving this series, Amber.

Reply October 10, 2012

This is so beautiful and touches a tender place in my own heart. Thank you, Amber!

Tanya Marlow
Reply October 10, 2012

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. :-)

Reply October 11, 2012

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?

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