"I Guess I Wasn't 'Fine'"
"See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!"
1 John 3:1a (NLT)
Standing on the risers in my grade school auditorium, the girl next to me scanned the audience, desperately looking for her father. Her parents were divorced and her dad had let her down more than once. He said he’d show up this time. But as the director’s hands signaled our final note, and there was no father in sight, my friend’s face revealed her pain.
My dad wasn’t in the audience, but I didn’t expect him. My mom was there. And my dad? Well … he was home, probably reading a book. But compared to my friend’s sadness, my disappointment was minor, I thought.
For so many years, I compared my growing up experience to others’, and thought, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Surely, I must be "fine." Others had it so much worse than I did.
Sure, my dad never attended any of my choir concerts or saw me sing (from third grade through high school), but my mom never missed one.
Although my dad wasn’t involved in my day-to-day life, my mom was my number-one problem solver.
And even though my dad never said he loved me, I didn’t think I needed to hear those words. After all, my mother’s love more than made up for it.
Other friends had missing or cruel fathers. They’d been openly rejected. Their parents divorced. Their house was chaotic. Not mine. I’d just had a quiet overlooking. One that I accepted as normal.
And I really did believe my father loved me in his own way. I held no bitterness. His own father had died in an accident before he was born. Even as a child, I knew he didn’t have any father examples.
I was fine.
Yet over time, an independent streak took root. A hardness grew that kept me isolated from needing or wanting help. I developed a "pull yourself up by your boot straps" mentality that impacted my opinion of others who needed help, and my own weaknesses.
I never connected it with my father’s passivity. I genuinely thought I was doing fine. Until someone challenged me to consider the impact my human father had on my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Only then did I consider the impact of all I had missed. No tender moments, no champion, no confiding of worries or requests for help. No father-daughter dates or advice on a boyfriend.
The honesty caused a pain that surprised me. And I struggled with that same feeling of guilt as I compared myself to others and the truly hard lives they had. I didn’t want to dishonor my father. But I’d opened a door I knew God wanted open. So I pressed in to the honesty.
My little-girl heart had tried to heal itself by developing an inner strength. Only that "strength" built a wall, instead of a bridge, to God’s heart.
My independence had kept me from a deeper relationship with God. I loved God, but I didn’t really trust Him with my heart or my problems. He was a distant Father to me, more like a king on a throne than a Daddy holding my hand.
Yet once I allowed the door of my heart to open, it started to soften as I forced myself to admit that in reality, I wasn’t fine. I did need help, and in a way my independence simply couldn’t provide. I confessed the hurt and pain that I had covered up in fierce self-sufficiency.
And God whispered words of truth. He reminded me …
… I never missed a choir performance.
… You can come to Me for help; I’ll be there before you finish your request.
… I started saying "I love you" thousands of years ago.
Today’s key verse tells us God loves us as His children. So as an adult, I had to learn what it was like to have a Daddy who loved me perfectly.
As God continues to prove Himself faithful, I’ve admitted this truth: Sometimes the pain from what didn’t happen is as real as the pain from what did.
The healing I initially didn’t know I needed has made me a better person. But it’s still a work in progress. I still struggle to admit any weakness. And yet every time I do, I experience the realness of God’s love anew. My heart is becoming more merciful, gracious and kind … to others and myself.
If you’ve dismissed your pain as insignificant compared to others, I invite you to experience the same healing I’ve received. God wants to fill in all those missing pieces and be your perfect Father.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so perfectly and seeing that my heart needed Your tender healing. And thank You for being the perfect Father for me for eternity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV)
1 John 4:16, "So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them." (NRSV)