Come and take a look at two fathers.
One father is kind-hearted who treats his daughter like a princess. She knows she is the apple of her Daddy’s eye. He frequently scoops her up to tell her how smart she is and how much he loves her. The little girl has no doubt that her daddy truly loves her. He is her safe place and primary target of her pure affection.
The other father frequently speaks harsh, cutting words to his daughter. She knows his capricious mood can shift from calm to cruel as quickly as a storm develops on the ocean. He frequently lets her know, through both subtle and not so subtle means, that she is a disappointment to him. This girl grows up always wary of people’s motives and questions if she is able to really be loved by anyone.
Truth is, these two fathers are one and the same…This is my dad. The first picture is of him when I was a little girl. The second is of him from the time I was a pre-teen until now.
For the record, I was not abused in any way by my dad. He never lifted a finger to hit me. He never railed at me with curses and threats. He never told me I was worthless. In fact, he told me many times, especially when I was a young girl, that he loved me. Still, he made it clear as I grew older that I would never measure up to his expectations. Memories of those careless words and cold looks from him would parade through my mind unimpeded as I entered young womanhood.
When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I would ask myself frequently what had made my dad’s love toward me change so drastically. I poured out my heart to God constantly lamenting that there had to be something wrong with me. As the Lord does so often, the answer didn’t come in one lightning bolt moment. Instead, it came over the course of numerous years. The conclusion I came to was my dad loved me the best he knew how. The dreams he had as a bright, handsome young man had been dashed on the jagged rocks of his poor choices. Even as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how very complicated the whole thing was and still is. The bottom line is that he is a man unfulfilled in life who knows very little of how to extend love and grace to others beyond what benefits him in some way. That sad reality left me splintered and broken.
So, how did I end up the woman I am today – overwhelmingly loved and generously loving? Well, there is another father involved in this story…my heavenly Father. As with nearly anyone I have spoken to over the years, my perception of Him was seriously skewed because of my feeling unaccepted by my earthly dad. I had a very difficult time understanding the pure love and affection of my sweet Father God. It wasn’t until I began to embrace the love of my Father expressed fully in Jesus that I began to unravel the mystery of God’s relentless passion for me. How could knowing the Son of God help me understand the heart of my Father? Jesus made that clear while He lived in this world.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” – John 14:6-7
I have come to know my Father as I have come to deeply know His Son and perfect likeness, Jesus. The more I came to trust Jesus, the more I understood He wasn’t lying to me about the incredible goodness and tenderness my Father has for me. Yes, I understand the Old Testament is filled with our Father’s immeasurable kindness and love, but until my heart latched on to the truth of who Jesus is and whose He is, I could only give the whole thing a mental nod. That restored relationship with my heavenly Father enables me to extend a “no-strings-attached” forgiveness toward my dad. I do not hold any of his mistakes or failures as a daddy against him.
While having a father that is consistently thoughtful and loving is optimal, not all of us are blessed with that situation. However, our God is our precious Redeemer who makes all things work for our good and His glory. We have a loving Father in Heaven who desires to lavish His love, goodness, mercy, and grace on us each day. That’s beautiful news that’s great enough to shout from the rooftops!
You can follow Angie on Twitter @angiebattle Angie also has a blog with some great things to say and I would encourage you to check out From the Rooftops http://www.fromrooftops.blogspot.com/ She currently lives with her husband and son in Georgia. She teaches the coolest fourth graders in the world! God’s also given her other avenues of serving Him including being part of the women’s ministry leadership team at her church and writing this blog. She is crazy in love with Jesus and is convinced her passion for people comes straight from our Father’s heart for them (that includes you).