I was given a gift. I did not seek it. I did not deserve it. I had no idea its worth until it’s initial presence was gone, and I reflected with wisdom.
I reflect on this gift this week.
I have two small boys that do not know real want. They have warm beds, warm hugs, abundant clothing, a variety of nutritious food (whether they choose to eat it or not), educational resources, invested adults, and hearts and words pointing them toward Jesus. They experience security in ways that many children in our country and world do not. They need it, but they did not seek it. They did not choose it–it was chosen for them. They have NO idea the gift they have that is an ache in the heart and bellies and souls of children across the world.
Last night, I looked at my four-year-old, Luke. He crawled up in my husband’s lap and snuggled with no fear; he knew that he is welcome. I think of that sweet confidence I had of crawling in my Daddy’s lap at two, four, ten, sixteen, and, yes, even thirty. At the age of thirty, I experienced that love, affection and deep care from my Daddy for the last time. However, the deposits were everlasting.
Oh, how I miss his affection, but his investment built a foundation in my heart, in my mind and in my confidence. I never feared to approach him. I never wondered if he cared for me. I never had to guess that he enjoyed me being around. You know what makes my heart burst? I know he shared that care and investment to pour into boys and girls that did not have present fathers as he was a minister of the gospel at our church. That investment reverberates into the lives of moms and dads investing in their own children and so on.
His simple presence in my life and the lives of others made a distinct difference. It brought peace, laughter, encouragement, and fun. Was he perfect? No way. Was he loving and present and hilarious and goofy? Yes. Did he know how to connect with me always? No way. There were awkward conversations and missteps in our relationship. I reflect on some mechanical conversations at a Mexican restaurant when I was 22. Did he make me cry? Um….yes. All he had to do was show disappointment or lose his temper. In fact, I often exasperated him when he tried to discipline me, and I immediately cried.
In all my 42 years, I have witnessed many father-daughter relationships as a school counselor, a minister, and a human. I have seen how the absence of a father, whether physically or emotionally, sculpts the confidence of a child (male or female). There is a space in all of us that a healthy male figure needs to fill–that is the design we are made for. Sometimes it is our earthly Daddy and sometimes it is another male caring figure and sometimes it is painfully absent. It points to our need for our Creator and his imprint–both masculine and feminine. When that relationship is absent, it is very evident as a thread of need throughout one’s life.
As I look at the reality of relationships in this world, I realize the humbling gift I was given in the presence of my Daddy and my Heavenly Father. There is a thread of confidence within me that I can trace to the stability and the love and the investment of my Daddy. As I reflect on his death 12 years ago tomorrow, I miss him terribly. However, I am so thankful for the years I had with him. I am thankful for his legacy which is shown in the ripples of investment he made in others. I do not take the gift of his life lightly. I can only pray that my investment in others point to my Heavenly Father like he did. And, I encourage those Daddies young in the game–it is not too late to ask the Lord to give you guidance, to give you a heart for your children, to give you the heart to turn from a heart of self-preservation to one of love and authenticity and hard work. You are important and a vital part of your children’s lives and the lives of people around you.