My whole life I've wanted to be a daddy's girl.
I used to pray and ask Santa for one of those big, protective daddy's that you see in the movies. You know the kind; always cleaning their shotguns, waiting for scoundrel boys to come along and request a date with their little girls. Being a tomboy, I longed for a daddy to play baseball and basketball with. A man to drink soda and burp my ABC's with.
But sometimes we just don't get the thing we want the most. My parents divorce was final just months after I was born, and I’ve often wondered if Dad would have stayed had I been a boy, instead of his seventh daughter. Regardless, he left and married for a fourth, and then fifth, and then finally a sixth time.
He rarely called, occasionally sending a present or a card. Anger and disappointment in my absent father were emotions I felt entitled to. With each unreturned phone call or broken promise, my animosity became easier to justify. So I clung to my pain and stuffed it in the father-shaped hole in my heart.
But it never healed the wound.
Over the years the pain dulled. I convinced myself that I was no longer angry, but still avoided my dad at all costs. And then God gave me a dream. As we turned my dream into a novel—Rescuing Liberty—God used my characters to show me how prevalent my inner hostility still was. It affected me, weighing me down and keeping me from receiving the blessings He had in store for me. So after I finished the book, I sent my father a copy along with an apology.
We are called to love each other as God loves us. While my novel’s main character highlighted my imperfections—imperfections that God loved me through, I came to understand the dangers of judging my father. I called it justice, but God reminded me that love isn’t about justice—it’s about grace.
My dad accepted my apology and my book, calling me within a few days to say, “Your letter was an answer to my prayers.”
He explained that a few years back he gave his heart to the Lord and had been praying that I’d forgive him. While I harbored my animosity toward him, my dad actually prayed for me! And now, we’re speaking, emailing, and slowly working our way toward an actual father/daughter relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, my father’s not my new BFF or anything, but we’re working on it. And with him, has come a whole slew of sisters and their families that I’ve never met! That never would have happened had I kept a hard and unforgiving heart. But now that it’s softened, God is blessing me with an abundance of love from and for my new-found family.
It’s amazing what God can do if you just forgive.