Recently, my husband and I were in a conversation with our Pastor and a few others about fathers, and the common occurrence that they often fail to be present for their children. During conversation, several of us could relate in the reality that our fathers weren’t present in our lives growing up. Whether they were present physically and absent emotionally or absent completely, we could all revel in the memories of pain and feelings of neglect.
While sharing, our Pastor admitted that he came to the revelation that despite the fact that he felt his father was not there and in turn did not love him; his father’s way of showing him love was working every day and providing for him. As a little boy, all he wanted was for his father to show up at one of his football games but because his father was so busy working, he never made it to any. Through conversation with his father, he was able to receive a dose of his fathers perspective. His father exclaimed that his love was in the car that his son was afforded to drive and the roof over his head. The uniforms that were purchased for him. His love was shown in the way he cared for his family. As astonishing as that is, it led me to begin thinking of my father in a different light.
Similarly, I grew up with a father that worked a lot. Over time, he had developed more businesses than we cared to count and was often emotionally absent. It would seem as if his businesses would consume him so much that he would lose touch with any other reality; including his family. Like Pastors’, my father made sure that we were provided for. We never went hungry or without lights. We may not have had what we wanted all the time (my dad was great at money management a.k.a he was frugal) but we always had what we needed. Consequently I had a car at 15 years old and with that car came the responsibilities of being the big sister in charge. I often had to make up for the lack of supervision and emotional investment from my father. For this reason, I grew up unknowingly resenting my father and every business that he created; including the one that I now work in and manage.
Now, at 24 years old; I am attempting to love beyond walls and love my father more than I ever have before. I’m setting aside the resentment because I realize that though his love may not have looked the way that I wanted it to; he loved me and still does. God revealed to me recently that I have a challenge speaking to my father because I fear that every word from his mouth will be laced with rejection. HE said, even rejection is a fathers love. I know that sounds crazy, but through sober listening; I understand. When my father gives me advice that I dislike, its not because he intentionally desires to hurt me, its because in his opinion, he is doing what he can to love me, even through rejection. When he tells me no or fails to make my performances, it’s not because he does not love me, it’s because he is doing what he has to do to make sure that I can continue prospering years from now. He is storing up wealth for my future family and if that means that he can not be at an event physically supporting me, than that is the decision that he has to make. And in that decision, he is loving me. Trust me, it’s hard for me swallow some of what I write. Even as I write this, I can hear my thoughts: “But that’s not love” or “I would have preferred his support over a new business” but I have to face the reality that my perspective is not the only one that matters in a two way relationship.
My father is loving me the best way that he knows how to love me; even when his love comes from a broken place. There will never be a love as pure as Gods love but when we each love from our broken places, loving beyond walls, we create opportunity for Gods pure and perfect love. When each part loves from the place where we are hurt [places where we need God the most] with full intention to love beyond the pain, we can fully experience and embrace our fathers love. Often times, our fathers are waiting for opportunities to love us. Even if loving us looks like giving us advice, telling us who they want us to be, giving us money, etc. EVEN when they completely ‘fail’ in loving us the way we wish to receive it, we as the child have to believe that they intended to love us the best way they know how. When a person loves from a broken place (which we all have) its usually ugly. It’s faulty, distorted, painful, rude, etc; but its their attempt at love. And we have to be honest with ourselves and understand that our attempt at love isn’t always the purest either.
I’m aware that some don’t have my story, and that is fine. Wherever your father is in his process, its our responsibility to meet them where they are. Why? Because despite what we think, we need our fathers. We do. There is a distinct reason that we come from their lineage. And whether we believe it or not, they need us. The one that knows better should do better and right now, I have the opportunity to love my father better because of what God has shown me about BOTH of us.
So I’m learning to embrace my fathers love, even when it doesn’t feel very good. Knowing that as long as my ultimate reliance is in the love that God provides for me, I can love beyond the pain produced by my fathers love. I’m a true believer in the healing power found in Gods love. And as my father and I both love from our broken places, somehow Gods love is found in the midst. It has not been easy the last few days (yes days) of me allowing my father to love me, but it’s been the most rewarding. Loving beyond walls is changing my life. I can finally see the beauty in being vulnerable, positive and strong enough to embrace the love from my father. As imperfect as it may be, through my willingness to love beyond fear and past experiences, my daddy has the ability to experience something that he may have been searching for himself;
a fathers love.
Matthew 13:15 For the hearts of these people are hardened and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes– so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.