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This is Previous-Essay <== This-Essay ==> Following-Essay Click HERE on this line to find essays via Your-Key-Words. {Most frequent wordstarts of each essay will be put here.} ========================================================== %CONFUSED ADDICTIVE CODEPENDENT IMAGES GOD LOVE 900323 We tend to live in terms of images of God which are drawn from our own experiences in family life. Our images of God are idealized expressions of our images of the best we can imagine in parents. If our family life has been impoverished, so also are the images of God which we have. If we are confused about healthy family relationships, we are bound to be confused in the images which play a central role in our thinking about God, ultimate realities, questions, issues, and values in our spiritual lives. People who as growing children and adolescents have been the victims of addictive and codependent family relationships are inevitably the victims of addictive and codependent images of God and possible spiritual relationships. These confused images have often been treated with tragic respect in religious literature and organizations. People who have experienced addictive and codependent parenting tend to think of God as a jealous parent who is likely to become angry and violent when efforts to control children are frustrated. They view God as judgmental and likely to behave in arbitrary ways which are mysterious and beyond understanding, but must be respected. To them God is the supremely powerful paternalistic manipulator upon whom we are dependent and must show respect even when he is violent. People who have been fortunate in growing up within the context of healthy family relationships tend to think of God as an honest and forgiving parent who seeks to liberate people to be authentic lovers in open and honest intimate relationships. To them God is the supreme enabler and liberator who has the power to set them free to be themselves in taking care of themselves and serving others in healthy ways. So long as we are confused about where our contrasting images of God have come from, it will be difficult for us to sort out the implications of those images to our current family life, and how the images will affect the lives of our children. Images which were born in dysfunctional homes should be carefully considered to see where they will lead; in contrast to images which were born in healthy homes. (c) 2005 by Paul A. Smith in (On Being Yourself, Whole and Healthy) ==========================================================