The Dad Factor

It’s Father’s Day – a day I don’t usually look forward to.  And it’s preceded by June 9th, my dad’s birthday.  Until I was 28 years old, those two days were wonderful.  I loved celebrating them with my dad.  Why?  Because my dad was funny, caring, hard-working, and we had a great relationship.  I could talk to him about anything.  He was my confidant, my counselor, my coach, and my friend.  He put a vision of what I could do with my life in front of me.  He understood what made me tick.  He had this way of pushing me to be more – to see the potential God had put in me.

People would often say to me that my dad was cool.  And the best part?  I could tell them he was the same way at home.  That was not an act he put on in public.  That was really him.  I felt so blessed to have a mom and a dad that I could talk about tough stuff with and know that they truly cared.  God blessed me with a great home to grow up in.  We had dinner together every night, talked about our days, laughed and laughed some more.  Was our home perfect?  No.  There were struggles.  But, overall my memories of growing up are very positive and loving.

For as long as I could remember, I wanted to marry someone just like my dad.   He as the first man I ever knew and he had impacted my life in very deep and lasting ways.  I believed everything he told me.  His word was gold to me.  In my eyes, he could do no wrong.   He was my confidant, my cheerleader, my friend.

When I was 28 years old, and my parents were married 30 years, my dad left my mom for another woman.  He had emotional affairs with other women before that but we never knew about them.  I was in shock for days, weeks, months.  I became very sick for several weeks, most likely a response to the emotional stress of those days.  My family as I knew it was never going to be the same.  When I look back there were little hints that something was amiss but I chose to push those things aside.  I just believed my parents would never divorce.

My father came to see me not long after he left mom and told me that the man he was all those years wasn’t who he really was.  He had lived a lie all those years.  My trust in him was gone.  I didn’t even know who he was anymore.  I began to question all that he taught me as I was growing up.  Was that all a lie too?  The anger and betrayal I felt was so deep I began to question God and how He could allow this to happen.  If he truly loved me and my family, how could He allow this?  And I felt anger toward my mom.  If she had been different, maybe dad wouldn’t have left.  Maybe things would be different.

I went to visit family friends over Easter weekend.  I chose not to go to church for the Good Friday service.  I was too angry at everyone, including God.  I was reading a book on forgiveness someone had suggested.  I knew deep in my soul I needed to forgive Dad, Mom and God.  I cried as I spoke the words, “I forgive you, Dad.  I forgive you, Mom.  I forgive you, God.”  I know.  Who am I to forgive God, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty, the Holy One?  I know it’s not Biblical.  But, somehow it helped me to let go of some of the anger.  I know now He allowed it and has used it for my greater good and His glory.  He knew before it happened what was coming.  Did He want it to happen?  Absolutely not!  But, He also gave all of us free will to choose His way or our way.  Has he used it for good in my life?  I believe so. Since my father left, my list of character qualities changed. (see my blog post, “Stature”) Lifetime commitment and fidelity were now at the top of the list.  Did I still want someone just like my dad?  In some ways yes, but in some ways no.  His leaving changed me in many ways.  I’ve grown in understanding what is truly important in life, relationships, and in my walk with Christ.  I’ve learned that no one can be everything to me, except for Christ.  He alone is perfect and will never leave me or forsake me.

My relationship with my dad was never the same after he left.  I tried to spend time with him and make the best of it.  But, I’ve learned that forgiveness does not make a relationship.  True reconciliation comes when there is confession and repentance on one side and forgiveness on the other.  You can’t have true relationship without those two parts.  God forgave all of us when Christ died on the cross.  But, forgiveness does not make a relationship.  My relationship with Christ can only exist because I have confessed my sins against Him and asked for forgiveness.  His forgiveness completes the process and true relationship happens.

Sadly, that process never was completed in my relationship with my dad.  I prayed and waited for it.  I poured out my heart and pain to my dad, hoping he would understand and ask for that forgiveness.  It never happened.  And it won’t in this life.  He passed away in March of 2016.   I saw him two weeks before he passed away.  I sent him a letter, thanking him for the things he taught me and the many great memories I have of life with him.  I told him that I forgave him and that I loved him.  God calls us to do all that we can to be at peace with others.  I believe I did all that I could to do that.

Here’s what is truly important.  The last 30 years of my life were very painful and there may be more painful days ahead.  But, the first 28 years of my life I had a wonderful dad.  God blessed me with a dad who was there, not just physically, but emotionally.  He heard me and met so many needs I had during that time.  I am grateful for his love and care.  I often find myself quoting him and the wisdom that he shared with me about life, relationships, and more.  The good things float to the top and the others, well, I must let them go, for my sake, so that healing can happen in me.  I can open myself to God’s healing hand in my heart or close myself off to His love, remaining bitter, angry and unable to love.  I choose to be healed.

God knew when He created us that we would sin.  He knew that we would have imperfect fathers and mothers. He knew there would be pain as the needs of precious children went unmet.  He knew there would be adultery, divorce, and damaged relationships.  He knew it all from the beginning.  He knew my dad would leave and the pain I would feel afterwards.

The good news is, I have another Father, a heavenly Father. I call him Abba, Daddy.

My Abba Father is perfect, loving, kind, gentle, and will never leave me because He has promised me in His word, the Bible.  He is Abba, Daddy, to me now.  I go to Him for wisdom and guidance, encouragement and direction.  I trust Him completely and without question.  His Word is gold.  He can do no wrong. Ever.

If you are reading this and have lost your earthly father for any number of reasons, please know your heavenly Father is waiting for you with open arms.  He is wild about you!  He has a plan for your life that goes beyond your wildest dreams.  He knows your heart, your desires, your dreams, your fears.  He will walk with you and carry you through anything in this life.  All you need to do is ask Him to be your Savior, the Lord of your life.  You see, He did something your earthly father can’t do for you.  He paid the price for your failures, for your sins by sending His precious Son to die for you so that you could be with Him for eternity.  What an amazing gift!  He loves you more than any earthly father or husband ever could.  His love for you is perfect and complete.  And He promises He will never leave you or forsake you for any reason!

So, dear one, please choose His love for you right now!  Tell Him you believe in Him as your Savior.  Confess to Him that you have failed and sinned.  Accept His forgiveness for all your sins, past, present and future.  Then, choose to turn from those ways with His power and help. Choose to live with Him on the throne of your life.  There is freedom and peace in Him that no father or marriage relationship will ever bring you.  Your Abba Father is waiting for you!  What are you waiting for??

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