Healing Your God Image: Embrace Divine Love

Healing Your God Image: Discover a pathway to embrace divine love, heal distorted perceptions, and deepen your relationship with God.

How to Heal Your Distorted God Images and Experience God's Love

Are you feeling distant from God?

Do negative or fearful thoughts fill your mind when you think of Him?

Do you question if God's love truly encompasses you?

If you find yourself nodding, then you might be struggling with a distorted God image.

What is a God image? It's our mental representation of God, influenced by our life experiences, especially those from our early relationships with caregivers or parents. This image is separate from our intellectual beliefs or doctrines about God. It's more about our intuitive emotional perception of how God relates to us and how we reciprocate.

Just like with everything in life, God images can either be healthy or distorted. The difference lies in how well these images align with God's true nature as expressed in Scripture and Tradition.

Today, we're going on a journey. We'll delve into understanding what distorted God images are, their impact, and most importantly, how to heal them using grace, prayer, Scripture, sacraments, and spiritual direction.

The Hall of Distorted God Images

Imagine walking through a hall of distorted mirrors. Each mirror represents a false or inaccurate mental image of God, making you feel distant, fearful, or unworthy of His love. These distorted images don't just affect your relationship with God. They can also shape your self-image, your relationships, and even moral choices.

A collage of four images representing distorted God images: a drill sergeant yelling at a soldier, a statue of a Greek god, a robber holding a gun and a bag of money, and a broken heart
Distorted God Images

Take, for instance, the Drill Sergeant God image. This is a harsh, demanding God who seeks perfection and punishes every single mistake. Or the Statue God image: a cold, indifferent God who seems uninvolved in your life. The Robber God image portrays a selfish God who takes what you love and leaves you feeling empty and bitter. And the Heartbreaker God - a manipulative, unfaithful God who plays with your emotions and abandons you when you need him most.

The Impact of Distorted God Images

These distorted God images can wreak havoc on our spiritual, psychological, and relational well-being. It can lead to feelings of alienation from God and yourself. We might lose sight of our true identity as a beloved child of God, created in His image and likeness.

Such distorted images can trigger unhealthy coping mechanisms….scrupulosity is a big one. You might try to escape from painful feelings by engaging in addictive behaviors, compulsive work, excessive entertainment, or even isolation.

Our difficulty trusting God leads to immature postures in our relationships….being suspicious, controlling, defensive. We can get over focused on our defects, where we fall short, and relate to God with a sense of shame and guilt. We can feel lost, and without motivation or direction in life. Feelings of hopelessness, depression, or anger might surface.

A Healing Pathway

Healing distorted God images isn't a cakewalk. It requires time, patience, courage, and a generous dose of grace. But the effort is worth it.

First, acknowledge your distorted God image. Recognition is always the first step towards change. This could be as simple as saying, "I have a drill sergeant God image" or "I have a statue God image."

Next, delve into the origins of this distorted image. How did my experiences shape my perception of God? Examine how your parents or caregivers related to you and how their relationship with God was modeled. Ask how your culture or society has influenced your view of God. Practical atheism is rampant, so that we don’t even think of God in daily life. Maybe that comes from the Deist philosophy of our forefathers….God set the universe in motion, then stepped back but isn’t really involved.

Next, bring your distorted God image face to face with the true image of God. This true image is revealed in Scripture and Tradition. Compare and contrast these two images. See how God speaks about Himself and His relationship with you. Understand how Jesus shows us the face of God and how the Church teaches us about God's love and mercy.

Now comes the time to replace your distorted image with a healthy one. A healthy God image is accurate and true, enabling us to feel close to God, trust Him, and be grateful for His love. Think about the Good Shepherd God, who cares and guides, the Fatherly God, who loves and nurtures. Imagine the Friend/Spouse God, who shares our joys and sorrows, or the Savior/Healer God, who forgives and heals.

A collage of four images representing healthy God images: a shepherd holding a lamb, a father holding a baby, two friends hugging, and Jesus healing a blind man
Healthy God Images

This healing process doesn't have to be a solitary journey. Reach out for support and guidance. This is where grace, prayer, Scripture, sacraments, and spiritual direction come in.

Grace is God's free gift to us. It's His presence and action in our lives that can heal our wounds, transform our hearts, and renew our minds. And you can receive grace in various ways such as through prayer, Scripture, sacraments, and spiritual direction.

Prayer is a communication with God. It can help us express our feelings, listen to God's voice, and experience His love. Different prayer methods exist to suit your style, such as vocal prayer, meditation, contemplation, or lectio divina.

Scripture can help us understand God's character, will, and plan for us. For example, for the Good Shepherd God, reflect on John 10:11: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Think…just as a shepherd cares for his flock, God guides and protects me. He knows my name, my worries and sorrows, and my joys.

"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and anyone who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." - John 4:16

Participating in sacraments can help you encounter Christ, receive His grace, and become His disciple. When you enter a church and bless yourself with holy water, recall your baptism when you were adopted into the family of God so that you will never be alone or abandoned. Begin intentionally relating to God in the sacraments of confession and eucharist…intimately sharing and receiving mercy, nurturing support, protection and encouragement.

Lastly, spiritual direction, the guidance from a person trained and experienced in spiritual life, can help you discern God's movements, invitations, and challenges, and how He does these things in a wise, loving way. You can find a spiritual director through your parish, diocese, religious order, or retreat center.

Wrapping Up

Distorted God images are common among people, including Catholics. They can cause spiritual, psychological, and relational problems.

But remember, there's always hope. By acknowledging these images, understanding their origins, comparing them with the true image of God, replacing them with healthier images, and seeking support and guidance, you can heal.

In doing so, you'll experience a deeper and more authentic relationship with the living and true God who loves us unconditionally. Embrace the journey, embrace His love.

Source: www.soulsandhearts.com

Image link to bio for Marcel Lanahan, LMHC

Dr. Marcel Lanahan

Founder, Lead Clinician

Marcel is a Catholic therapist, husband, and father of five. He is dedicated to supporting fellow Catholics with guidance on their healing journeys.

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