Allow me to introduce to you my father. My biological father. The man who partnered with my mother to create me. If memory serves me correctly this is the first time I’ve shared a picture of him. He wasn’t my favorite person in the world and by the look on my face I am sure you figured that out. Or maybe it was that hideous dress my mother had me wear. Not really sure, but I digress.
This photo was taken in 1979 (that’s what is written on the back of the picture). It is actually the only picture I have of my father. People use to say I look like my mommy and then they see a picture of my father and say, “ooohhhhhh.” I guess it’s not so bad to be his twin. But this blog isn’t the world’s introduction to my father. It’s about the blessings I never received from my father.
I make every effort to feed my spirit in the morning. Something to encourage and motivate me for the day’s journey. This morning as I listened to the podcast of a well known pastor, he talked about the blessings of a father. He discussed how vital a father is to the emotional growth and development of his children. The pastor said that fathers need to speak life, validate, show affection and tell their children how proud he is of them. Children long for this and need this and when it’s not received it can affect the child well into adulthood. This made me think of my own father and how his inability or unwillingness to do the things discussed by the pastor caused all sorts of dysfunction in my life.
You see, I believe a father is his daughter’s first love. He is the first man she will ever love. The relationship a daughter has with her father lays the foundation for every relationship in her life. It’s been said as a daughter begins to date; every boy or man she meets will be compared to her father. The father sets the standard early and is ultimately a role model for what manhood looks like. Unfortunately the example I was shown was everything but positive.
I remember my mother telling me that my first word was not mommy or daddy; it was Robby (what most people knew him by). My mother said I would call my father’s name as though I were his wife. She told me that he would walk into a room and my face would light up and I would lift my arms and motion with my hands for him to pick me up. Mommy said I was daddy’s little girl.
Sadly I remember none of this. I don’t have all bad memories, however. I do remember fun trips to the beach and fun times in the car when my parents would act as though they were NASCAR drivers. There was some laughter and a few good memories but somewhere something changed and those good memories that I had were replaced with bad, painful, and hurtful memories. Those good memories turned into such an intense hatred for my father that when people would ask me about him my response was, “If my father was lying in the street with a bullet to the head and my blood was the only blood to save him, he would be dead.” You’re probably thinking that was harsh….or mean….or just plain evil. Whatever your thoughts are about it, it was my reality for more than 20 years. It wasn’t until I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior that I realized I needed to forgive my father; not for him but for me. And so I bless God that He has healed me of the hatred and unforgiveness I harbored for my father.
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” ~ Matthew 6:14-15 (The Message Bible)
But as this is my season to allow God to do a work in me that will prepare me for the man He gives my heart too, I felt it important to acknowledge that every bad decision I made in terms of men is a direct correlation to the relationship I had with my father. For years I searched for the love I did not get from my father in other men. From my very first boyfriend to my last relationship I gave of myself and hung on the words of men who would eventually reject and abandon me. Because I lacked what my father should have given me, I placed myself in some very compromising situations…which I now regret. My father failed to validate me so I looked for it in men and sometimes people in general. My father failed to tell me he was proud of me. My father failed to speak life into me. So I looked to men to fill the void my father left. My father failed at being a role model by which I could base my relationships off of. In essence, my father failed.
But on November 7, 1999 I was introduced to my Heavenly Father. My earthly father failed to do what a father should but my Father in Heaven loves me; He cherishes me; He protects me and values me. He died for me. God has healed me and is healing me so that I no longer look to a man or anyone else for false love and validation. He has loved me before I was formed in my mother’s womb and told me in his love letter to me that I am the apple of his eye. He has shown me what a man should look like (his characteristics). God models for me the characteristics that my father should have modeled for me.
But even though my father failed at what he was chosen to do, God has promised that because I am in him, I no longer have to be without a father! Even though my earthly father failed me, I know my Heavenly Father never will!!
“He is a father to the fatherless….” ~ Psalm 68:5 (NIV)
As I am writing this blog I am reminded of a story my favorite Air Force Chief told me. He arrived at work one morning looking distressed. I said, “Chief is everything ok?” He responded with, ‘I am doomed.’ I asked why? He proceeded to tell me that his daughter announced that unless she met a man like her father she was never getting married. I said, “That’s awesome Chief.” He said, ‘How is that awesome? She’s never leaving my house!’ I said, “It’s awesome because you did your job and you did it well! You mirrored for her what a man…a husband looks like. You set the bar high and that is a compliment.” He places his head in his hands and says again, ‘I am doomed.’
The dialogue with him was funny, but the matter is very serious. Fathers please model for your daughters what a man is. Love her, validate her, and show her affection so that she does not spend years and tears looking for it in other men. Set the bar high so that she will expect other men to treat her as her father did. And please let her know that you think she is beautiful inside and out. Tell her often! You are already her first love. Make her feel cherished and give her a positive image of what that means.