It had been four years since I sat in the presence of my earthly father. Seasons had come and gone, and although we hadn’t lost contact over the phone, I felt ashamed that it had taken me so long to see my father in person.
I sat beside him and rested my hand on his lap for posed pictures. I held him tight, an overdue embrace.
I carry my father’s biological imprint; it lives within. Inherited are my light-caramel eyes. I find his trademark furrow between my own eyebrows as I contemplate life’s hard moments.
I Am Different From My Father, Yet In Some Ways, We Are The Same.
In the fall of 1983, an important milestone occurred in my father’s home—my womanhood.
I recall how my stomach felt taut and warm, fists of fire pounded on my abdomen throughout a day of shopping in Brooklyn’s Knickerbocker neighborhood. Upon our return home, I locked myself in the small bathroom and was met by the red markings of womanhood.
Overjoyed, my step-mom had phoned my own mother, “She got just got her period…we wanted to share the good news!”
She ranted and raved about the joys of becoming a woman, but Dad delivered stinging words from his usual place of comfort—the living room sofa.
“Make sure you don’t get pregnant.” His brash words cut deep; I was only eleven-years-old.
Mending the Father-Daughter Relationship
Maybe you were fortunate enough to have had parents who modeled healthy ways of being. Or perhaps your experience was the complete opposite, maybe no healthy parenting occurred whatsoever.
A Man Cannot Become What His Own Father Never Was.
· Fathers have the ability to be life-givers, but fathers can still hurt the little girl in every woman, regardless of her age.
· A father can support his daughter’s every dream. Yet that same father can deflate a daughter’s soaring hope with indifferent and harsh words.
· Your father may have empowered every desire and goal. Or he may have stolen your curious verve because of his own fears and insecurities.
Fathers sometimes operate under an unspoken code of conduct—it determines if affection is given or if affection is withheld.
My husband’s father stopped hugging him at twelve; I often wonder if his life would’ve played out differently if he was affirmed more.
Behind the bravado and burliness are small boys trapped in the flesh-shells of manhood, men who need desperate affirmation.
“I don’t think my dad ever looked me in the eye and told me he loved me,” my husband discloses. Tears well up in my eyes. So I grace my husband with a morning ‘I love you’ before he heads off to work.
How Should the Emotional-Wounded Daughter Deal with Her Finite Father?
· Maybe your finite father failed you, yet your Eternal Father infinitely cares.
· Maybe Dad forgot to show up to your school play long ago, you braved through stage-fright butterflies and delivered perfect lines. You didn’t find his face among the audience, but Abba Daddy in heaven sensed your nerves and provided you with His warm calm.
· Maybe Dad didn’t walk you down the aisle because of a prideful family spat, but one day your Eternal Bridegroom will collect your arm—you, his beautiful bride.
Held tightly or ignored. Shunned or loved. Cared for or neglected.
I don’t know the ins and outs of your own father-daughter relationship. If an earthly father failed you emotionally, I implore you to lean into your Infinite Father’s steadfast arms.
If the marred memories of your girlhood is preventing vital healing—I challenge you to release your earthly fathers of their private failings.
Actions of grace and mercy are the very balm earthly fathers need: for their own healing, for their own redemption.
In the spring of 1993, a second milestone occurred in my father’s house—my salvation.
My finite father gave me the best thing a daughter needed; he shared his own Eternal Father’s love with me. My parents were on newfound spiritual journeys, they wanted for their daughter’s spiritual healing and a newfound hope.
Seven Fruits of Grace to Share with Your Earthly Father
1. Practice peace—the enemy revels in strife. Be a daughter who shows the peace of God when life with your earthly father challenges you.
2. Be gentle—what do harsh responses prove? Ask the Lord to give you wisdom if and when you decide to repair the broken, father-daughter relationship. Not all relationships can be healed, sometimes boundaries are necessary if homes were dysfunctional or abusive.
3. Self-Control—it is vital to walk in prudence. We can quickly reply to a father’s uncomfortable words or we can choose to absolve them of their faulty characters.
4. Show goodness—lavish love and mercy even if Dad was unable to. Model goodness for him or your own husband. Our children and grandchildren will benefit greatly.
5. Faithfulness—can a fickle heart mend old wounds or offense? Absolutely not. Be faithful to your Infinite Father; he knows the desires of your heart. Christ can heal difficult father-daughter relationships.
6. Be Joyful—regardless of your painful father-daughter episodes. Remember the good times instead.
7. Love regardless—Christ is the epitome of love. Offense is a wedge that prevents full healing. Forgive your Dad of old offenses. Grace him of new ones, because Christ has wholeheartedly graced you.
As Father’s Day approaches, I pray for the mending and healing of your relationships with your fathers. May we, as Daughters of the Most-High Father, cover our finite fathers with love regardless.
· Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times, (Matthew 18:22, ESV)
· And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25, ESV)