I’ve struggled with some things since I arrived here in Virginia back in March. As God called me out, repeatedly, to start writing consistently again here in this space, I fought with Him about what to write. I wrestled, and I struggled. This is so much harder than the first time. Then it was just my church family. I was still kinda new there. The enthusiasm of new faith, and passionate preachers still filled me. I wasn’t yet heart-bruised. I was far from home, and God wasn’t calling me to talk about daddy issues.
Yet, as I sat in church this morning, with this titles already swirling in my brain, my new friend stood on stage, microphone in hand, uncomfortable. She reminded me that we aren’t called to be comfortable, we are called out to follow where He leads. So here I sit tonight, praying He will give me the words I do not know how to speak. Let me start with an admission. I have recently discovered that I have daddy issues. There was probably a time, once upon a time, when I knew that already. But, somewhere in these last 24 years of wandering far from home I had forgotten. Those issues got me to thinking this week. We’ve all got daddy issues. What if there’s a reason for that?
When I moved home to Virginia, the house we ended up moving into is ten to 15 minutes from my Dad’s house. I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking when we chose this place, aside from the name of the road drew me. I knew it was the right place though. I figured maybe it was because my Dad’s a little busier than the rest of us, and it might make it easier to spend time. It’s also pretty centrally located to my sisters and mom’s place, about equidistant from the two. I don’t know what I was expecting, really. But I do know that I spent the first couple months trying to find it, and not quite succeeding. Which led me to some realizations about my relationships.
I realized that 24 years away from the people I called home, especially when none of us are that great at communication, means I really didn’t know this family God gave me very well. I have missed so much of their lives, and they have missed so much of mine. I don’t really know their struggles. I don’t really know their pasts. I don’t know their pains or triumphs. I haven’t shared their sorrows and joys. Likewise, they don’t know mine either. There is this disconnect that crept in somewhere in these last years, these years when even visits were few and far between. Nowhere was I more aware of that truth than in the relationship with my Dad.
In one of the early conversations with my Dad when I got here, he said to me that he had not always been a very good Dad. The comment stuck in the back recesses of my mind, floating up now and then to make me wonder what hurt he holds inside himself that makes him feel that way. See, in my mind, Dad is still larger than life, the wise man, stretcher of my mind. He is the one who pressed me to learn logic, and use it. He challenged me to learn new things. He is this image I held as a little girl, and a teen, and a young woman, before I ran away from home, figuratively at least. He is superman, with all the answers, to all the questions, about everything from how to spell that weird word to the depths of God and the universe …
Except he’s not. He is a man, broken, lost, and seeking just like me. I think I knew that once too. But somewhere along the way I forgot, and I needed to remember. He hurts in places I can see, but do not know how to reach. He laughs and delights in things I don’t yet fully know and understand. He carries burdens that cause his heart to sigh, but he does not share. His mind runs wild in the world of patterns, codes, and building worlds of data out of strings of numbers and letters that he sometimes has to write the language to express. And something in him seems to be a little afraid of me, though perhaps that’s not quite right, maybe just a little afraid of being known. I know that feeling well.
All these things I’ve been bumping up against since I came home lead me back to the things about me that I forgot, as I grew up far from home, independent, and on my own. I remember now the times when my Daddy would get home from being out to sea. We would wait on the pier for him to dock, and we would all get home. There was such a rush and press, Mom missed her husband, my sisters needed their Daddy. I would float along the edges, hanging back to give them time. Knowing they needed him, and not wanting to push in with my own need.
I remember now the times when I would learn math, read classics, study nuclear power books. I read current events and politics. I wanted something to talk about with him that might hold his interest, and make good use of his time with me.
I remember wanting desperately to know what he thought of me. Was he proud of me? Did he think I was smart? Did he think I was beautiful? Did he wish I was more than I was? And at the same time, there was a part of me that didn’t want to know. I knew he loved me. Wasn’t that enough? What if I had disappointed him? What if I wasn’t smart, beautiful, enough? What if he did wish I was more? If I knew what he thought, if I pushed in with my need, would he still love me? And would it be enough?
I never dreamed those crazy feelings of a teenage girl were still trapped somewhere deep inside the heart of this 46 year old mother of five, and grandmother of three (almost four). Yet, as I live less than 10 miles from my dad, yet not seeing him, and finding it hard to connect, these thoughts drifted up. They paralyzed me for the first three months I was here. I don’t know what I expected.
But, it was as though the little girl in me was waiting for Daddy to tell her she was loved, to tell her what he thought, to give her some inkling of how she might make him proud. I wrestled with everything from what church to go to to picking up the phone to make plans to knocking on his door to say hello and get a hug when I happened to be over that way and knew he was working from home. I didn’t want to push in, didn’t want to bring my need. Wanted desperately to know what he thought of me, but didn’t want to know because what if …
These last few months have been a good bit better. My relationships with the rest of my family have found their own strange equilibrium, and slowly but surely we are all getting to know one another’s lives again. I delight to spend time with my mom, and remember how much like her I am sometimes, and how fun she’s always been. My soul sighs in relief as I spend time with my sisters talking, and even when there’s heavy stuff, there’s love, peace, companionship.
The little girl deep inside still wonders what her Daddy thinks, and trembles a bit that she might find out. The grown daughter in me still longs to know what causes that weight I can see, how to speak grace and healing into those places that hurt, how to come alongside him and be a delight to him. And that last bit is what finally made it better, because I realized something about daddy issues with that desire to come alongside. I finally figured out where they come from.
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” ~ Exodus 3:14
From the second Chapter of Genesis throughout the Bible the name of God is written for His people. According to John Piper, YHWH appears nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament. This name is short, but it is big. It carries the sense of the eternal, the power of God. It was so holy that His people dared not speak it, lest they accidentally speak it in vain, and even now, the Jews write the more generic name God, as G_d, to be extra sure not to defile His name. As a people, we tremble at the LORD, Adoni, Yehovah, Jehovah, the Creator of the universe. The Righteous Judge. And well we might.
It is important for us to recognize the authority, the majesty, the purity, and the power of God. It is critical for us to understand the eternal, unchanging, unmovable nature of God. Without that understanding, the love of God, the mercy of God, the grace of God is without force. I AM is the name that speaks deep into the heart of men and reminds them that they are finite, they are small, they need the God who made them. I AM is the name that makes us tremble in reverent fear. I AM is also the name that brings comfort in the darkness and the storms when we realize we belong to the one who was and is and is to come, the one who stills the storms.
But, from the first chapter of Genesis, we learn God made us to walk with Him. He created Adam, and talked with him, walked with him, loved him. He spent time teaching Adam, getting to know him, letting Adam get to know his Creator, his Father. After the fall, God still calls out a people and sets them aside. He calls them His children, His people. And finally, in Christ, we see the picture of what it was always meant to be, of what the I AM sent Christ to allow it to be again.
“Our Father in heaven …” ~ Matthew 6:9
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” ~ Romans 8:15
“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” ~ Galatians 4:6
He created us to be His children. He calls us to call Him Daddy. Yet, we are so often separated from Him. We don’t spend time talking to Him to get to know His heart. We don’t feel worthy of His love, so we hide from Him. We don’t feel strong enough, good enough, able enough, so we don’t seek His face, afraid of what He might think of us. We don’t believe Him when He says that He sent Jesus to show us the Father. We can’t make the shift to the idea that the great I AM loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to die on a cross so that we could know, love, and be loved by our Daddy. So we have daddy issues.
I am blessed. My earthly daddy issues stem from the fact that I have a little bit of idol worship going on with my Dad. When I left home to find my fortune, or lose it, or whatever, I stopped the process of getting to know my parents as adults. I have no doubt that’s the reason the Lord led me to a road called Good Hope ten minutes up the road from my Dad’s house. He knew the distance wouldn’t hinder getting settled back into my other relationships but the nearness would make this one easier to sort out. And I have no doubt the Lord will provide the time, space, and openings for us to know each other.
I know a lot of folks though have daddy issues that come from abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, or simply that their daddy’s weren’t in their lives. A lot of us have issues as parents, too, where we feel like we are our kids’ daddy issues. We’ve failed them. We haven’t been perfect. In the words of my Dad, we haven’t always been good fathers, or mothers.
God knows that’s true for me. At least four of my kids have daddy issues, and that’s partly my fault. I made bad decisions while I was running away from God, along with running away from home. I pray one day the Lord will provide the time, space, and openings for us to know each other and sort those things out too. I pray for those of you whose daddy issues come from hurt and pain, the Lord will provide you that time and space as well.
But, in the meantime, I know why that comment from my Dad stuck in my head. For my Daddy, and for all the daddies and mommies, we can start with simply forgiving the not always being the best parent. Because the core isn’t that our Daddies, or we as parents, aren’t perfect. Those issues don’t really stem from the lack of knowing, the unknown expectations. They don’t even come from the hurt, violence, pain, or abandonment we have suffered. They come from the simple truth: no human is the parent our hearts long for.
There is a hole in each of us that only our Abba, Father can fill. As one of my favorite MercyMe songs puts it, we were never meant to carry this burden of our daddy issues, those we hold and those we cause, beyond the cross. Lay them down at the feet of the Son who came to show you the Father tonight. Forgive, and be forgiven, and know that Our Father in heaven sees you, knows you … and loves you, and He’s calling you home.
Be blessed and be a blessing.Tags: Abba, anxiety, Christ, daddy issues, Father, Forgiveness, Jesus, parenting, parents, relationships, Son
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