By Natasha Hart
I have two sons, and my oldest son’s recent high school graduation has brought on a flood of emotions. Mothers tend to want more for their children than they had, and I find myself thinking about my son’s relationship with his dad. I wanted my sons to have a bond with him because I’d always wanted a bond like that for myself.
Please don’t misunderstand; this yearning for a father-daughter relationship doesn’t take away from the father figures God so graciously provided throughout my childhood. As I rapidly approach my forties, I’m grateful for those relationships. But the consistent presence of a father has been missing in my life—or so I thought.
Every year I went through the same thing on Father’s Day. After calling those men who stepped in as father figures at various points in my life, I would still search for some kind of father-daughter connection. Ironically, I would go to one of the most disconnected places in our world today: social media.
Why do we look for love in all the wrong places? Every year I’d view the pages of strangers, family, and friends. There they are again! I’d think. The father-daughter dance pictures. Scrolling through the smiling faces and reading the comments had become my annual addiction. I’d read about father-daughter events in the local paper or find an article on a father-daughter dance in a social magazine. The men and girls showcased in these stories wore beaming smiles from ear to ear. And the father-daughter dances got more and more elaborate every year, with proud fathers in their Sunday best and daughters their moms had made into nothing short of princesses. Several pictures later I’d be bawling like Cinderella before her fairy godmother showed up!
In that moment, I realize my heart has a familiar twinge—the yearning to dance with my father. But in my story, the fairy tale never comes and the dance never happens. Why a relationship with my biological father hasn’t happened is not important. The truth of want and loss remain, regardless of the relationship dynamics. I simply want my dad to be proud I’m his daughter. I want the dance.
I am just on the verge of feeling sorry for myself when a gentle reminder sneaks into my thoughts: “I have never left you.” The Lord reminds me I have a daddy who has always been there. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).
I instantly remember reading the comics on my grandfather’s lap and the walks we took. I had a father figure who would tell me it was okay when I didn’t do so well on a test and who taught me not to talk to strangers. In one brief moment of revelation, my annual tradition of sulking in self-pity ends. My heavenly Father has reminded me of this Scripture: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5 NIV).
As Christians, we are the dwelling place of our Father in heaven. When we allow him to dwell in us, we become a holy place where he can demonstrate his fatherhood.
I had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior at an early age, but somehow I missed accepting God as my heavenly Father. I did not have to suffer in rejection or live in fear of lack like an orphan. I began to remember the words of an old hymn: “He walks with me and he talks with me.” Like the song says, he tells me I am his own. I no longer have to wish for memories and moments of my own as I observe daughters with their earthly fathers. I have a daddy-God who has never left me and has been waiting for me to acknowledge his role as my Father for years.
If you allow him, God will be a father to you as well.
One day I got up before the sun had even had a chance to rise and went to the parking lot of my church. I know what you’re thinking. What could you have possibly been doing there at three in the morning?
I wanted to be with my heavenly Father. With the doors to my vehicle open wide and my favorite gospel disc playing with the volume turned all the way up, I finally got my father-daughter dance.
Natasha Hart grew up in a small town that taught her to love people and the little things in life. Although born in Indiana, she has experienced life in various places. She is comfortable coloring outside the lines and frequently writes beyond the margins. Tasha blogs at tashartlife.com.
Photograph © Josh Willink, used with permission