Today I had a wound that decided to claw to the surface. I was listening to a sermon with a group of people I had grown up around but since moved away from and we were discussing God’s heart— literally discussing. The pastor expected us to verbally answer his questions. I like that about this family. Through various parts of his teaching I felt the stab of tears behind my eyes. I don’t cry for nothing, I’m realizing. As a child, I rarely cried. I didn’t want the attention or to be perceived as weak because I wasn’t weak. But these days I cry a lot. However, I am learning that my tears signify a presence of real pain; it’s not silly girlishness, a cry for attention, or symptoms of PMS. Yet when did I become so wounded? I’m not certain but just now I’m remembering that what you stuff down will not and cannot remain there forever. There’s only so much room before it spills out, whether subtly or loudly. I’m not writing for attention here either; I have a point to share.
Like the church always does, we sang afterward—to connect our brains to our hearts, to remind ourselves of truth, to remember what needs remembering, and forget what needs forgetting, and we sing because God loves to hear it. But I couldn’t. My vocal chords were locked up with the emotions that were threatening me earlier. And a thought kept growing. I think my father is disappointed in me. I don’t think he trusts me. This hurts. This thought, while painful, is important. We were talking about fathers and about the Father (God) and how our ideas about both are connected to each other, as they were designed to be. But also how the connection is broken because fathers are not perfect. While the Father God still is, we cannot help but project our ideas and experiences of our dads onto Him. So I discovered then that my dad had hurt me and it was affecting me much more than I had realized. “I need to go talk to my dad,” I told Tyler.
My dad loves me. I know this, but I was afraid. I think the thought of vulnerability is always accompanied by fear. I was afraid because I really did feel that he was disappointed in me based on how my love life thus far has challenged him and our family like none of us expected. Nothing earth-shattering, just a different story.
My dad is a warrior and a gifted man of faith. But when I approached him I just expected him to be my dad. Yet he looked at me like I was the most valuable human on the earth and he made sure that I knew that with every word he spoke, he even said it with his eyes. When I choked out the words I felt I needed to say, he held my hand and gave me all the time I needed to express myself completely. He listened. He made no defense. And when I was done, he said nothing but beautiful words to me—the most genuine, heart-felt words I didn’t know I needed to hear.
“I couldn’t be more proud of you. You have encouraged my faith and shown me God. I don’t doubt that I have hurt you, that I have given you reasons to feel the way you do and I need your forgiveness me for that. Part of it comes from my difficult past, I’m sure. And you know I believe that nobody is good enough for you. But nobody is good enough for your mother either and look I got to marry her,” he said laughing. There was more. So many sweet words, I wish I could remember and treasure them all for the rest of my life.
“Does that mean God is proud of me too?”
So sincerely he said, “Oh yes. Do you doubt that?”
“Yes, I do.” That confession was heavy.
He understood. Then he prayed for me, like a father always should for his children. He prayed that the weight would be lifted; he prayed for hope and for freedom.
“There is more. You don’t have to pray or read the bible a certain number of times. That is not what He wants. Keep pressing in and let Him take you deeper. You, my daughter, are amazing and I want you to know I am always here for you.”
And I have hope that freedom is coming. It may require painful steps like this from me but I’m willing.