When I had my own babies, something tugged at me like an undertow, to know and be known by my own father.
I could count on one hand the number of times I’d seen him in my life, all as a child really. And I wanted a do-over, the chance to take a photograph of him with my mind, hear his voice, see in him what’s in me. I wanted to tell him about everything I’ve seen and done, and for him to see how God has blessed my life with the most generous man, my husband, and my greatest treasures, my daughters.
Unexpectedly, there came the opening for a relationship. And then just as quickly the opportunity was lost as I learned things I did not want to know. A political scandal. A very public trial. I read about him, saw his face, heard his voice more than I ever thought possible. Only it was through press clippings and news stories. Surreal. And days before Father’s Day, off he went to jail. He has always been beyond my reach.
I sat one night trying to figure out how to not feel fatherless.
How to sort through the sense of loss again, the disappointment, anger, loneliness, compassion, aimlessness and shame.
My Daddy, the one who took me as his own and raised me with my beautiful mother… he used to strum a toy guitar and sing “Dance, Neally, dance” until I spun myself dizzy. The one who recited Greek verbs with me as he drove me back to college on weekends. The one who bought me a breast pump when Rhema was born and with a smirk on his face gave me pointers he’d learned from a lactation consultant on how to use it. The one who gave me a secure, happy childhood for which I am eternally thankful – he’s the one who taught me you are never without your Father.
He told us kids, people will fail you. You will fail you. But your Abba Father, your Rock, will never leave you, never forsake you. He holds all this world with His Word, and yet He pursues you and longs for relationship with you. He calls you His own. He covers you with His wing, He clothes you in grace. He loves you with an everlasting love, a love that can reach wherever you are. Run to Him, He runs to you.
(Well, he didn’t say it quite in those words. Like me, he never really knew his biological father. But he knows his Father, and he’s dedicated his life to telling others about Him.)
Needing to connect with him, I texted my Dad. Like a little girl again, I just wrote, “Thank you for being my Daddy.”
The words meant, Thank you for wanting me. Thank you for knowing me. Thank you for loving me.
He’s not a big texter, but his words were healing waters washing over me:
“I have always loved being your dad. And you have always made me proud.”
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” ~2 Cor. 6:18.
No, never fatherless.