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Grasping at God the Father

A scream pierced the darkness.

I awoke, dazed, as my husband stumbled from the bed to flip on the glaring light. It was our youngest, suffering one of his night terrors. They’d become infrequent in recent months, but we were traveling, crammed in a hotel room together, and he was clearly disoriented.

During these night terrors, our son would simply scream, eyes open but unseeing, distraught to the point of hysteria. Several minutes would pass before he sobbed himself back to sleep, never remembering the incident the next morning no matter how often we asked.

We’d tried everything, namely because I always insisted that we “do” something to help. He merely continued to scream until the terror passed and sleep returned.

So this time, I simply watched my husband lay down on the bed next him, doing as he had always done: gently rubbing our son’s back, assuring him that Dad was right there, talking to him in soothing tones as they rode out the storm. After it passed, my husband carefully tucked him back in and kissed his forehead.

And there, in the middle of the night in a hotel room, I realized this was a glimpse of how God accompanies us through our storms.

The imagery filled my heart with joy, because I’ve been trying so long to better understand God the Father. Jesus is easy to get to know through the Scriptures and His physical presence. I relate easily to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Yet God the Father? He can be harder to place. The more I’ve tried to comprehend the Fatherhood of God, the more I understand that even the best example of an earthly father, even the best parent-child relationship, can never communicate the fullness of God’s love for us as Father. And if we have broken relationships with our parents? It’s that much harder to grasp the incomparable, indestructible love of our heavenly Father.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus shows us a way: He lifts His eyes to the Father, revealing their Oneness from time immemorial in beautiful language, and teaching us that we come to know the Father through the Son. (John 17:1-11) We learn what a relationship with the Father looks like through Christ—by His words, through His example, and above all in His intimacy with the Father Who loves us all.

You are His beloved Daughter. Reflect on a time in the Gospels that Jesus spoke to our heavenly Father, and imagine yourself interacting with God the Father with the same words and intimacy.  

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. When the writing bug hits, you can find out more about her here.

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