The predominate image of God that I grew up with was God the Father. God the Father was such an important metaphor in my religious education, because it allowed me to learn about God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Even before I began to explore Judaism, I was drawn most strongly to a relationship with God the Father. I knew it is all the same God in Christian theology, but that was the imagery/terminology I found most helpful. I was about 15 years old when I stopped praying using the terms Jesus, Son, or Holy Spirit. I would instead substitute all instances with “God,” because it was the unity of God I wanted to emphasis and for me that was most fully expressed in the Father.
When I came to college, I was introduced to biblical scholarship. Both in current scholarship and in the Conservative movement, which is the movement I am currently learning within, the use of gendered language for God is to be avoided. Both in papers and in prayers, I am told to not refer to God as He or Father. I understand the danger in using gendered language; it can be used oppressively and can limit our understanding of God as Transcendent. Even understanding the limitations with the metaphor God is Father, I have to say this is one of my most treasured images of God, especially now as I am in the process of conversion.
In the process of conversion, relationships in your life get turned upside down and inside out. My relationship with my parents, sister, aunts,uncles, cousins, and friends will never be the same. I will lose some relationships and I will gain some relationships. Like all other chaotic, unstable times in life, it is comforting to have God as a constant. God is not my Parent the same way that my parents are, but God as my Father is still a very intimate, special relationship. I am at a point where my tradition, beliefs, and holidays are different than all of my family, and often cause tension. I am the only one resting on Shabbat. I am the only one lighting a Hanukiah. I am the only one not celebrating Christmas. At a time when I feel utterly alone and sometimes at odds with my family, it is comforting to know I have always had and will always have my Father.
I am leaving my family’s ground that is familiar and am on a journey on less familiar ground so that one day I may be a Jew. I am leaving the role as a daughter of the Church for the role as a daughter of Israel. With the change of my role in religion and family, it is comforting to know I will always be my Father’s daughter.
“Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you;” Genesis 12:1