To experience God as nurturing and affirming is often difficult because peopleís negative relationships with their parents influence the quality of their relationships with God. The boy whose father abandoned him before he was born; the girl whose parents, grandparents, minister, teacher, and husband abused her, testify to our human tendency to see God in much the same way as we see our parents, especially our fathers. The process of learning to receive Godís nurturing is aided or hindered by the individualís own personal human nurturing experience.
When people recognize God as the most significant other in their lives and accept Him as their heavenly Father, He becomes a resource for nurture that supplements and substitutes for what was lacking in their human parenting. Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.(Ps 27:10 NLT)
.......the thought of our Maker becoming our perfect parent-faithful in love and care, generous and thoughtful, interested in all we do, respecting our individuality, skillful in training us, wise in guidance, always available, helping us to find ourselves in maturity, integrity, and uprightness-is a thought which can have meaning for everybody, whether we come to it by saying, "I had a wonderful father, and I see that God is like that, only more so," or by saying, "My father disappointed me here, and here, and here, but God, praise His name, will be very different," or even by saying, "I have never known what it is to have a father on earth, but thank God I now have one in heaven."(J. I. Packer, Knowing God)
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands; your walls are ever before me."(Isa. 49:15-16 NIV) Hearing these words of affirmation is part of the process of helping people accept God as our nurturing parent.
Some scripture verses that can show people God loves them unconditionally:
Affirmation that Jesus is their advocate, not their accuser-My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely.(I John 2:1 NLT)
God is their acceptor and protector, not their advisary-If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. "Yes, I am here," he will quickly reply.
God invites them to repentance, not criticism; God is their Savior, not their Judge; God is their commender, not their condemner-Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, "Where are your accusers? Didnít even one of them condemn you?" "No Lord," she said. And Jesus said, " Neither do I. Go and sin no more."(John 8:10-11 NLT)___ So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.(Romans 8:1 NLT)
God is for them , not against them-What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?(Romans 8:1 NLT)
Nothing can separate them from Godís love-And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death canít, and life canít. The angels canít, and the demons canít. Our fears for today, our worries for tomorrow, and even the powers of hell canít keep Godís love away.(Romans 8:38 NLT)
The principle of Godís grace teaches people that they are worthwhile because Christ purchased them. Human worth is a product of Godís creative activity. He determines and assigns value because He is the potter and humans are the clay.(Isaiah 45:9) Because humans have nothing to do with their birth and because the source of their life is God, their worth is beyond human measure. The reason God created life was for fellowship with Him; hence we are Godís gift to himself. This truth is hard for many people to believe because it means their existence is Godís doing, not theirs, and that they are lovable regardless of what they do with their humanness.
People need to hear that God does not love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us(Martin Luther). We are worthwhile because Christ redeemed us. Our worth is also dependent on Godís creative activity. God determines and assigns our value by creating us in His image and by paying the highest price for our salvation, the death of His Son. Humans, on the other hand, seem to have this predisposition: to establish their own worth through how well they do, how good they look, and how powerful they are. They tend to judge their value by their performance, appearance and "importance." Our value, from Godís viewpoint is not based on being perfect or on achieving some difficult feat. Our value is a gift which comes with our existence because God created us. How we look, how we act, how we think, what we say and what we do-these are important to God after we have accepted His love and forgiveness. Before our conversion, they have no influence on Godís grace. After our conversion, however, our behavior, does matter to God. He asks for loving obedience to His will, not perfection. Many confuse obedience with perfection; and this confusion leads to shame, failure, and lowered self-esteem. Having responded to appeals to rededicate their lives to Christ, but having failed repeatedly to live righteously, people often give up trying to please God because they realize they cannot be consistent.
People need to look at themselves from Godís point of view. When they can look at themselves in this way, they look clean, fresh, new, and white as snow. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.(Ps. 51:7 NLT)
And lastly; in spite of the fact that as sinful human beings, we hear life through dull ears, see life through dim eyes, feel life through broken hearts, and act out life through inconsistent and sometimes ungodly behavior, God is our nurturing parent who never leaves us or forsakes us.
(Deut. 31:6-8; Heb. 13:5)
Counseling and Self-Esteem, David E. Carlson, copy. 1988