I did not grow up with my birth-father as a prominent presence in my childhood. I was raised (okay, reared, would be my mother’s correction) by a responsible, loving and God-fearing woman. She did one thing I admire, and another I wish she hadn’t done. She never spoke negatively of my birth-father in my presence, and for that I am eternally grateful. I found out, through my interactions with him, what manner of man he was during that season of my life. Yet, she over-compensated for his absence by signing his name to birthday and Christmas cards, and compelling him to be present for graduations. I wish she had not given that false impression, although I believe her heart was in the right place. For many of my teenaged years, I would celebrate her on Father’s Day, because I felt she was doing the job of both mother and father. The truth, however, is that she was not–nor could she have been–father; she was only mother, and she was excellent in her role. I needed the active participation of a man–my birth-father–to love me, to be the first man to tell me I was beautiful and valuable, to protect me, to set the standard for the other men who would come into my life.
Because of his absence, I did not learn these things in the time they should have been known. I gave myself away, and I experienced hurt over and over again. Despite the pain and even a season of telling others I didn’t have a dad, the prayers of my mother and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life led me to prayer. It was in my young adult life that I found myself praying to God for a restored relationship with my father. I wanted to know him. I wanted relationship with him. I wanted to no longer agonize in the greeting card aisle trying to find a card that honored, but didn’t lie. So, more often than not, I mailed cards that simply stated “Happy Father’s Day,” were blank on the inside and held my signature–no love, no thanks, nothing more than my name. It was a difficult emotional place to be–it was agony. Yet, because of the foundation upon which I was raised/reared, honoring my father was something I desired to do. Afterall, I was/am the perfect combination of her and him.
As I disclose and share my story, let me also confess that I had an image and expectation of how I wanted God to move on the heart of my father. Mine was an elaborate and epic movie where he told me how sorry he was for not being there; how he would do everything in his power to make up for lost time. Despite my selfish and flesh desire, God only responded to my heart’s true need: to have a father who would sense the heart and need of his daughter and be her “hero” in that moment. The Holy Spirit asked me, when I rebelled against being the one to pick up the phone and say “I love you,” Are we going to do this your way or My way? I repented, and I yielded to His way. As a result, God gave me what both the neglected little girl needed and what the independent woman needed in the face of having to live life without the presence of her mother in the earth. As I cried out and made destructive decisions all because I didn’t want to be alone, God caused my birth-father to be present and accountable to me at the most difficult time of my life. He was there when I needed him the most, and he’s been there ever since!
While it may be difficult for me to share, or for my father to read these words, it is part of my truth and part of our healing. As a young child, I was enamored by Truth and that has not changed. In fact, the older I get and the deeper I grow in relationship with God through Christ, truth means more to me than feeling good or making someone else comfortable. Have you not heard, according to John 8:31, of the freedom afforded those who seek and find truth? Today, I am free and no longer feel the sting of the pain of my childhood. Today, I am able to say in-love how much I appreciate my father’s presence. I’m grateful God did not allow either of us to transition into Eternity before experiencing this miracle of reconciliation.
I heard my current pastor say “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” In making this statement, he referred to certain father’s as “come-back dads.” That resonated with my spirit; that describes my dad. In the time since my mother’s passing, I’ve learned more about my dad and his heart. I like his heart. I know he isn’t a perfect man, but he has proven to be a man I can be proud to call “dad.” As recorded in Psalm 118:23, this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in my eyes! It is the benefit I have garnered from doing it God’s way.
I wrote this post to encourage anyone who may still have a desire to be reconciled to a loved one. Allow the power of God to do the work you cannot. Do not allow bitterness to keep you from being made whole. God has given us the gift of reconciliation (see 2 Cor 5:17-19) and it is right for us to seek to be reconciled. The blessing of being in my father’s presence these days are worth the effort it took to get over my sadness and my hurt. My epic movie may have ended up on God’s editing floor, but the end result is most definitely Oscar-worthy; truly, the best footage anyone could ever witness. I give it a standing ovation and my tears are no longer of a sad and bitter little girl, but of a women confident in the God who has given her the desire of her heart! Indeed, it is a “happy” Father’s Day! ~WordsInPrint by Suni