Confidently I stood in front of the neighbour boy who was taunting and teasing me. Hands on my hips I declared, “If you don’t leave me alone I’m going to go get my Dad!” Even as I spoke the words at age seven, I understood something. My father wasn’t ‘there’ for me and I would have hesitated to ask for his help. The young boy mocked me again and made fun of my dad as I turned and marched into the house.
If there is one legitimate and deep longing inside every young woman it is this: to be loved, protected and adored by her Daddy. It is a longing that is suppressed by many women, unfulfilled but acknowledged by some, and satisfied for a few.
I am strong. Am I stubborn? I can be a little bit at times but not typically. Stubborn is that quiet ‘refuse-to-listen-and-hear’ attitude. Strong is the rock-solid confidence in what you believe (even when you’re wrong) that still listens to other voices and weighs what is being said and, with time, if the other voice makes sense or echoes of truth, it surrenders. Because of this strength I have at times convinced myself that my loss as a daughter was less extreme than it was for other women because I didn’t ‘need’ a dad as much they did.
I was about to turn 21 when I acknowledged for the first time the extent of betrayal and loss I had experienced because of fatherlessness. When my friend’s parents stepped into my life and started to help me disassemble my beliefs, look at my denials and begin to explore the horrific aftermath of my childhood and youth, I was shocked by the pain that lingered just below the surface of my existence.
That initial look at truth landed me on the couch and weeping for three days straight. I had spent my whole life running from the pain and suddenly, with one question, that wound tore open and left my heart in agony. What stands out in my memory is a song I heard the day after my first encounter with truth. I don’t remember the exact words of the song but the concept was to share our pain with our Daddy, referring to God, and let our Daddy bring healing. I listened to that song repeatedly in an effort to reconcile the fact that the pain was imposed by my father and at the same time I was to invite a Daddy to heal it.
As the tears came and went, during that three-day period, I repeatedly felt God hold me. The comfort my spirit drew from that ‘Presence’ still amazes me. Through the years I have often returned to that moment to remind myself that God is my Daddy-Father. I recall well how gentle He was with my broken heart and spirit and how His love washed over me time and again. Had it been any more powerful, He would have had to show up in physical form.
Many years later I had the opportunity to weep with my earthly father as he repented and I found deeper freedom in being able to extend forgiveness—again—in spite of the ache in my heart.
It’s a beautiful gift to forgive. But the reality is that the deep longing never really leaves. The last few months I have had many moments where grief rips at my heart. Many moments where tears surface. Moments where restlessness consumes me—restlessness I could not identify until today.
All these years later I find myself still reaching, still longing and still crying for that relationship with an earthly father that I never had as a child. It has surprised me again how raw that pain can be. How deep that inner longing still reaches.
It all stands to reason. With the upcoming “Faith Girls Unleashed Conference” I am moving into the fulfillment of a dream that I’ve carried in my heart for many years. What could compare to a Dad being there and saying “You Go Girl! I’m so proud of you for giving it everything you’ve got for a cause you believe in!”
For a moment I want to find a father figure here on earth—someone to share my heart with in that special Daddy-Daughter way. Someone to talk to about my struggles—a ‘real’ shoulder to cry on. Someone who will cheer me on when I’m doing well, love me, hug me and laugh with me…
Instead I reach up and cry out to the same Daddy that walked through my deepest hell with me and I realize I have a Daddy who is all of that and more.