I saw my dad for the first time in 4-5 years this past Friday.
I realize as I write this that yes, everyone has “daddy issues”. Issues that are shoved down, hurt feelings that are put away in the pit of your stomach until one day you just don’t feel them anymore. And you’d like to say that you don’t think about those hurt feelings but they are always there and come up in many different forms.
I almost didn’t write this post because I was worried if my dad Googled me that he would find my blog and read it. But I’m learning that I have nothing to hide and only scars to bear. To show.
My father was my idol when I was a child. I thought he was the smartest, funniest, best-looking man in the world. I talked about him proudly, I looked forward to going to his house every other weekend and holidays. He took us to museums and zoos. He told the best bedtime stories that always ended in tickling frenzies. I loved my dad. Especially since, out of my three sisters, I take after him the most. Looks, sense of humor- he gave it all to me.
I was driven to please my dad. I wanted his praise for everything. I tried to impress him always. Sometimes I’d spend the week before his visit memorizing how to spell big words just in case he gave me one of his spelling bees on the drive back to his house. One time I ate two plates of ribs so I could show him how big and grown-up I was. But it was never enough. If he found me reading using my finger as a guide, he’d say “What? You can’t read without your finger guiding you?” If I laughed loudly or made a silly joke in a restaurant he’d roll his eyes and say “Have some class.” (I was eight.) But I still thought the world of him. I only tried harder…
After my sister and I turned a certain age, he acted like he didn’t know what to do with us anymore. He would take us to rent movies, and when we were done watching them we found our own entertainment. I could sense that my sister and I were more of a burden on my dad than anything else. Like we interrupted his life with our presence every other weekend.
He stopped coming to get us when we were around 12-13. I guess he thought we didn’t mind, which, let’s be honest- at the time we didn’t because it wasn’t the same anymore.
This is when I stopped seeing him. We’d still talk on the phone and see each other here and there. I saw him when my sister had children, I went to visit him when he moved into a new house. And then it just stopped. We stopped talking and I put it to the back of my mind. Every now and then my mom would say “Well, it takes two to have a relationship.”
So eight years ago, I thought “Yes, I should try to know him and see him.”
We went out to lunch and he talked about my sister the whole time. He clocked in his ‘dad card’ for the hour and left. Probably feeling satisfied to have done a fatherly duty that day.
Then four more years pass and I meet an amazing man that I want to marry. I e-mail my dad and tell him about it. We actually talked on the phone once. I sent him the invitation, made sure that he would be there to walk me down the aisle, he says “Yes, I’ll be there.” The week before I got married, he didn’t respond to my e-mails or texts.
I knew then.
He wasn’t at the wedding. No card, not voicemail, nothing. I tried to e-mail him the week I get back from my honeymoon and his e-mail had changed. All this time I am trying to forgive and honor this father of mine. To take the higher road. I let it go. I shoved it down. Things were fine…
Sometimes you know there is this void in your life. And sometimes you feel guilty for even feeling a void when you have someone like God, who is the ultimate Father. Part of you longs for a pat on the back from your human father..for praise and love. For “good job”‘s and “I care about you”‘s. Even though this person has caused you hurt and pain, your expectations of him are still as high as they were when you were seven.
Friday morning I knew I’d be seeing him for the first time in four years. I acted nervous all morning, wondering what he would say to me. Imagining him coming up to me and apologizing for not coming to my wedding. Picturing him tell me what a crappy dad he’s been and how he’s so proud of me. I expected it, I longed for it.
Well, the next 3 hours were spent with us avoiding eye contact, not talking. I introduce him to Jason, finally. He doesn’t ask anything about my husband or me, or our life together. Right before he gets in his car, he shoves a piece of paper at me and asks for my address. I write it down and he walks away.
I felt like the biggest idiot in the world at that moment. I felt the lowest I’ve ever felt. All of these things start running through my mind. I wanted to shout “What do I have to do to get your attention? For you to notice me?! For you to WANT to know me?!” It’s a bad feeling when you are someone’s daughter and you feel like that person could care less about knowing you or anything about you. When they are able to walk away from you without a hug or ‘I love you.’. And then I felt angry at God. Like, “God, I know you are my ultimate Father, but I need the one I have on Earth to be here for me physically! Why can’t you just put him into my life? I need that encouragement and parenting down here!” Get off of your throne and console me. Come down here and embrace me. Look me in the eye, and tell me you love me!
But God says “I will. I promise you that. It won’t be here and now, but one day I will embrace you as my child and give you all that you’ve missed from your father. But not right now.”
This past weekend in church, our pastor talked about suffering and how we all have scars to bear. How some people say “Well, if God is good then why this happen?” or “Why’d he allow me to have cancer if He is so great?”. Pastor said it may be that God wants to take our weakness (scars, hurt, pain) and use them to strengthen you. To pull you through something so terrible that when you come out of it, you’ll know that it could only have been God.
My heart was crushed, my expectations wiped out once again by my earthly father. I felt so tired of hoping for our relationship, for trying, for expecting him to want to know me. I still do. I’m still raw from it. Instead of pulling down my sleeves though, I’m going to roll them up so that all can see these wounds. I can pray that God will use them for good one day. I have faith that He will.
In fact, He’s already revealed to me how he will use these scars:
I never wanted children. The idea didn’t appeal to me. I was a nanny for 7 years and I felt like I had already risen three children. My heart was hardened on this matter. My husband, when we first got married, agreed.
And just in this past weekend alone, he came to me and said that he (Jason) does want a family one day. I thought on this for a while, actually all day yesterday and the day before. In my rawness, my wounds still visible from Friday, God spoke to me. He showed me children that I’d love dearly. He showed me happiness and life with my husband and our family. He told me that he would take those scars and stitch them up. He would shape them into something new. That he could use this pain and hurt to create in me the best mother he knows how. He can wipe away the wounds with the love that I will have for my children. The hugs and kisses that I will give my kids. The praise and thankfulness that I will express when I have them.
He showed me the world-changers that my kids will be.
And I believe him because everything is for His Glory. And so I said “OK”.
Not now, but one day…
God’s going to use this just as he can use your scars. He is always on your side fighting for you. For those of you like me, that need that physical here-and-now praise from your genetic father and don’t get it…just you wait. One day, you’ll be able to run to your real Father..to the One whose love you don’t have to/ever could earn. To the One whom gives his love to you freely. You are already the apple of His eye.
I kind of laugh now, though my face has been covered in tears pretty much all day today..because the pain is still real and we still have to cry a little. To feel the hurt a little, but I can’t wait for God to use this!
My future children are going to be loved so much. They’ll never doubt it, they’ll never have to…it will be obvious. And if going through this is what it takes, it is so WORTH IT.
You can watch the sermon on suffering here:
Thanks for sticking with me through this post. You are loved ❤