I love hearing about people’s childhood and how they grew up, but in all honesty, I used to be somewhat envious of all those lovely memories, especially the ones with their Dad. My dad wasn’t the most affectionate man, in fact, he was harsh and distant. Even when we were young children and teens, the punishment for whatever we did was always extreme. I can’t remember him telling me he loved me (at least not initiating it) past the age of five or six. Childhood was less than a dream, at least at home. I threw myself into track, horse riding, spent as much time with friends, all the while searching for the value and validation I needed from my dad in other people, other things.
When I was 24, I met Jesus and it was then I learned about unconditional love and forgiveness. So then I felt I was adulting responsibly since I was free from my hurts, right? Wrong! Not free, but certainly it was the beginning of a healing journey that would end in freedom. So even though I frequently felt like Dad only tolerated me when we went to visit him, Mom and Sis. He barely spoke a word to me when I would call and I was always wondering what in the world I did that my own Dad couldn’t love me. I was determined to talk to Dad about Jesus. I was sure if he knew Jesus he would look at me differently, he would ask me to forgive him, he would make an effort to make right everything that had gone wrong while I was growing up. Each time I would bring it up, Dad would rebuff me on the subject. I now see God had to work on my heart to prepare me. Decades would go by before I knew the true meaning of walking in forgiveness and walking in love. Decades before those wouldn’t just be words to me, they would become truths in my life. In 2014, I began a journey of being set free, not just forgiving my dad, but also blessing him with what he needed.
My dad was diagnosed with end-stage esophageal cancer in 2016. I had seen my dad normal just ten months earlier, but when I walked into the hospital room I was shocked to see how frail and thin he was. The day we left I told Dad I loved him and would call him later in the week. I walked out of his room and the Lord said, “You need to talk to him about me.” I argued with the Lord and told him Dad would only rebuff me again, that he wouldn’t listen to me. The response I got was the same, “You need to talk to him about me.” So I turned around, went back in and asked Dad if I could talk to him about Jesus. He said YES! We talked, we prayed, and he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. I cried and cried. Then I took Dad’s hand and told him that if I ever disappointed him as a daughter I was sorry and that I loved him. As I left his room I wondered if I would see dad again before Jesus came to bring him home.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:7
Dad accepted Christ on November 7th, he would be ushered into heaven on December 10th. The last time I spoke to my dad was the day before he went into a coma. His last words to me were that he loved me and that he had to go to sleep. I would see Dad again before he went to Heaven. We flew to be with him in his final days. My husband and I spent the night in Dad’s room praying over him, blessing him, playing worship music. I sat on the floor with my head on his bed holding his hand, crying. The great pain I felt and the love for him was overwhelming. God had indeed mended my heart that had been broken in my childhood. Forgiveness and love allowed me to be a grieving daughter who had nothing but love for a father who had wounded her in so many ways. I prayed asking the Lord for mercy, to relieve him of this pain, and to bring his son home. Dad would leave us the next evening. I fell in love with my dad the last six weeks of his life. My thoughts of him are no longer the harsh father who was so distant, but a father I loved, a father I miss, a father who did love me.
Never doubting God redeems everything,