Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers and Daughters

This will be my second Father's Day without Dad. He died quite unexpectedly, but the healing he offered our family will last a lifetime. You see, we didn't have the best relationship. Like many fathers, the scars from his past created a wounded spirit that prevented him from connecting with his family. As a result, he struggled with depression for most of his life.

Dad could be very hard, emotionally abusive at times and the depression he faced brought an all-consuming darkness that could strike at any moment without warning. No one knew the kind of chaos we experienced because Dad's best was always given to those outside of our home. It wasn't intentional, he just had nothing left to offer by the end of the day.

As a little girl I so badly wanted the acceptance of my father. This challenging relationship shaped the view of myself, the kind of man to which I was attracted and brought an insecurity that I sometimes still battle today. There were moments when distance was needed because Dad could consume every moment if allowed, but Mom and Grandmother always encouraged us to have an open place in our hearts for him.

I'm so glad I did. After much work on my own heart, I was able to look past the pain of all those years to see the good things he offered. He was a creative spirit, humble, loved to serve those in need, offered excellence in his work, enjoyed reading and the arts, made you laugh with his dry sense of humor, loved to build things, had a heart for the elderly, was a Biblical scholar, found solace in nature, could let out a chuckle that would bring an instant smile to anyone's face (: and he loved his grandchildren with his whole heart. Once I focused on all of the beautiful things, the negative faded away and the healing began.

In my 30's Dad and I were able to get to know each other all over again. We had long talks about the past, his history, our family and he was open like never before. I felt safe to share my life with him again and our journey was set in motion. The change was wonderful! He encouraged my entrepreneurial efforts, continually told me how proud he was of me and reached out to get to know my world. We lived a state away so phone calls were shared everyday...sometimes even watched TV shows together. We would call when a favorite was on and experienced the show together over the phone wires (:

During the last months of his life the openness and thankfulness was amazing. I'll never forget the day he called me his angel...the power in that simple statement was more than I even realized. It was as if the gravity of those words smothered all the anger, hurt and sadness from the years before. I finally had the father my heart had longed for all these years.

And so now when I think of Dad, I remember the love he shared, the blessings he gave and the healing he offered. My life will never be the same. So if the relationship with your father isn't what you needed or even wanted, there is hope. Never give up because things can change. Just open your heart, reach out in love and let God intervene. He can heal the places you thought were closed off forever.

This doesn't always mean the relationship is restored because not every father is able to make that step...sometimes you stand alone with your heart in God's hands and have faith that He can take the ashes of what was lost and make you whole again.

"And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers." Malachi 4:6

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