I wrote this flying from my home to Ohio to attend a conference addressing Christian women and their brokenness…specifically sexual brokenness. Most of our stories include the pain of a broken home. Too many of us grew up with fathers that did not father us, but left us with deep, aching wounds. I had no idea the pain of a father who leaves you broken would come up. As I listened to the story, I thought of these words, written less than 24 hours earlier. So now I share them, because it is time. Time to speak aloud the forgiveness that is growing in my heart toward my own father.
There are moments I forget the nightmares. I look at the pictures. I see your face. I remember that once upon a time your face was one I longed to see. I don’t remember the day this photograph was taken. I was too young. A baby. A baby girl with a momma who loved her and, I’m told, a daddy who adored her. I don’t remember that little girl, but I can see her in my daughter’s eyes. The way she loves her momma and the way she loves her daddy. And I can’t remember when I loved you.
They say you love me. But the truth is…you didn’t love me enough.
You didn’t love me enough to love my momma. To cherish, to protect, to help her heal from the nightmares her own father left her.
You didn’t love me enough to work, to provide for my basic needs, to be sure I went to sleep without a hungry belly.
You didn’t love me enough to keep me free from the powers of darkness. You sold my soul so you could play a piano.
You didn’t love me enough to protect me from the boy next door. You invited evil into our home again and again and you let me go next door, exposing me to that evil, ripping to shreds the beauty of your baby girl. And when you discovered the evil, you were not my champion.You became my abuser. You blamed me and you beat me and you left me wounded and hating you.
You didn’t love me enough to tell me that I was cherished and precious and worth more than my little body. You let your own demons take over and you took from me what you did not own.
I didn’t know you didn’t love me. I thought I didn’t love you enough. I didn’t honor, respect or obey you enough. That I could never replace my brothers hidden from you long before I arrived. I didn’t know that you were not a father until I met him.
He taught me that a man loves his wife with his actions. That when evil arrives a husband does not invite it into his home but defends and protects. And although he and I made a mess of our relationship in the beginning, I NEVER fell asleep at night terrified he would beat or rape me. HE loved me enough to keep me safe.
He showed me what a father is by the way he loves our children. A father provides. Protects. Encourages.Teaches. He doesn’t hurt his daughters. He respects their autonomy and defends their dignity. He encourages their dreams and teaches them truth. He never provokes them to wrath but envelops them with love. He shows his daughters how a man should love his wife by loving their momma and loving her well.
My daughters are loved by their father. And as I watch how he loves them, the ache in my heart screams loud. And the truth whispers, “You did not love me enough.”
I never worry that he will hurt them. That they will have to hide when he walks into the room. That they will coil from the loving touch on their back. That they will walk away from a snuggle with their daddy feeling confused and dirty. I do not worry because I know he is a father. And I know, now, that fathers do not molest their daughters.
I cry at the thought of the day you take your last breath. Alone in the prison you chose. I want to feel sorrow and I feel only peace. I realize, as I write this, you are already dead. You died the day you crossed the boundary and you became my abuser.
I forgive you. For not being my provider. For not protecting me. For not cherishing me. For the way you touched me and made me feel dirty. For the years I carried all that shame and guilt that was yours. For causing me to hate you. Most of all, I forgive you for not being a father.
Never again will I need you to be those things. Never again do I need, nor desire, your love. I am loved by my Abba. And I am loved by my Jesus. And I am loved by the one who loves me, the one who has my body, my heart and my soul. I have all I need.