Label = Loved By My Father
31 Days in My [Insert Label Here] Skin:
[Loved By My Father]
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Several years ago, one of my brothers was in a Bible study with a group of men of varying ages and various stages in their walks with God and, one night, they somehow got on the topic of how their relationships with their fathers have influenced their lives.
One by one, as my brother sat there, he heard each man present tell their stories about how complicated or just plain destructive their relationships with their fathers were. Some of them had dads who had abused them. Some of them had dads who were so involved with their professional lives that they never took time to spend with their children. Some of them had dads who were marginally present in their lives, but they always had an underlying feeling that their dad cared much more about himself than he did about them. Some of them had dads who were not present whatsoever— he had left their family at some point along the way and apparently never looked back. Overall, to say the least, each man had a “tricky” relationship with his father.
And one by one, as my brother listened to their stories, he heard each man share about how unloved they had felt for so many years. They expressed how much they had longed for their father’s affirmation time and time again, only to be disappointed every single time. They talked about how even now, as grown men (many of whom had families of their own now), they felt like many of their own personal dysfunctions stemmed from their broken and dysfunctional relationships with their fathers.
There is something so needed about a father’s love in our lives. When we have it, we thrive. When we don’t, or when we are always wondering, that uncertainty inherently brings challenges and insecurities along with it.
And then, that night at the Men’s Bible Study, it was my brother’s turn to share his story. And, as he did, he couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with sorrow for all the men in that room. Having had nothing even remotely like any of their experiences, he started out by telling them how sorry he was to hear their stories. But the fact of the matter was: he couldn’t relate. “My father is one of my best friends,” he said, almost as though it was a confession. He and my dad, who live six hours away from one another, talk on a frequent basis, genuinely enjoy each other’s company and, whenever my dad goes down to visit my brother’s family, they always look forward to a sliver of time when just the two of them can get away for some alone time.
It’s a beautiful friendship.
After my brother tentatively shared his story, feeling a bit awkward and wanting to make sure nobody thought he was being prideful about it or took it for granted, all of the men in the room just stared dumbfoundedly at him. His life experience was so vastly different from their own.
Eventually, one of the men spoke up and asked my brother “So… what does that feel like? To know you’re loved and approved of no matter what…? What is that even like?”
Having never had to put language to his experience before, because it was simply all he had ever known, my brother struggled to find words to describe it. Eventually he found a few:
“Freedom,” he said. “It feels very freeing to know that no matter what I do I will always have my dad’s love and support. And… Peace,” he added. “There is a peace that comes when you know you can just rest in the truth that you don’t need to strive for someone’s affection or approval or even their admiration. And… Confidence,” he realized. “There is a confidence when you know you’re loved— it’s not so scary to try something new, because you aren’t filled with fear that you will be rejected if it doesn’t work out.”
And I agree. I’ve got the same dad as my brother and I, too, have always known that no matter what career I went into or what my marriage was or wasn’t like, or what my kids did or didn’t turn out like… I knew my dad would love me no matter what.
And, goodness gracious, I am so thankful for that.
And I know many many of you have very different relationships with your dad. (Maybe your stories are more similar to the men at my brother’s Bible Study?) And I pray with all my heart that this story doesn’t make you feel discouraged or jealous or hopeless or anything like that. One of my dearest friends on earth, as a matter of fact, has a father who has hurt her over and over again throughout her life. But, thankfully, this girl found God when she was 21 and she is now one of the most brave, confident, beautifully healed women I’ve ever known. Yes, she has some reoccurring “daddy issues.” But when I asked her about how she has dealt with this over the years, she was very deliberate in her answer: (I am paraphrasing here, but she said something to the effect of) “I have just learned to recognize that my earthly dad isn’t my real father. God is. And so I’ve turned to Him and looked to Him for guidance and wholeness and healing and reassurance of my worth.”
No matter what your relationship with your dad might be like, whether wonderful or the source of great pain, God is the One who can truly, perfectly, and always without fail give us the Love that can provide us with the Freedom, the Peace, and the Confidence we crave.
I am eternally grateful for the earthly father I have and how loving and faithful and generous and kind he has been to me all these years. And I wouldn’t trade him for the world. But also: I am fully aware that God in Heaven is the Source of Perfect Love and He alone is my ultimate fulfillment.
I pray that you find encouragement and hope and healing today. If something about this post has brought up old wounds, I pray that you seek God for healing about it. If something about this post has reminded you about how grateful you are for someone, I pray that you reach out to that special someone and thank them.
Have a wonderful day, friends.
See you next time.
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What about you?
Who are you grateful for today? What can you do to thank or honor them? How can you show unconditional love to someone in your life this week?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.