Image-Bearer Series: Our Father

By Brennan Steele, author of Breathe Brotha

When I first found out that my wife was pregnant, I was filled with excitement, joy, and gratitude for the blessing that God gave us. Yet, those feelings were almost immediately hijacked by anxiety, stress, and the pressure I felt to be the perfect father. This is a typical occurrence for me: I experience moments of joy and celebration that are often usurped by perfectionistic expectations and worries I have about the future.

Becoming a father has continued to play out that pattern. I have felt an additional weight as I think about my experience with my father. I didn’t always feel that my father was as emotionally present as I needed him to be, even though he was physically there. Moreover, I know the stereotypes that say that black fathers are absent and do not care about the development of their children. Coupled together, I have felt the pressure to give my daughter what I needed from my father and prove the societal tropes of black fatherhood wrong. As someone who holds themself to really high (and unrealistic) standards, this was overwhelming for me. 

A couple of weeks ago, though, one of my best friends hosted a “Dadchelor Party” to celebrate this new season in my life, receive wisdom from other fathers in our circle, and cover my journey in prayer. During the time of sharing wisdom, one of my brothers said, “Remember, you are just a stand-in for God. He will be her true Father. How you love and father her should lead her back to Him.” 

As I reflected, I felt liberated by that statement of truth. My daughter is a gift the Lord has given me to steward, but ultimately, I can trust that He will provide for her. I can find relief from self-inflicted pressure knowing that He is genuinely directing her path. The Lord will never fail her. He will be perfect when I am not. 

This realization also helped confirm what it means to be an Image-Bearer. For folks like me, this identity can cause some anxiety on the surface as it feels that it is another standard we have to hold up. However, there is so much freedom in being an Image Bearer because it is the Lord’s power that fills us. I hope that as my daughter sees me, she sees Christ. But the mere fact that I am made in His image guarantees that His grace will be there when I fall short. 

Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

We bear God’s image because He made us. Even though I will be a father, he is still my Father, and will become our Father. I can gratefully rest in this truth, knowing that He is working in and through me as I raise one of His children.  


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