A Dad’s persevering love

truth
Some of life’s most profound moments can happen in the most ordinary of moments. Like the time my entire life’s truth came undone in the kitchen last year.
I always believed I was unwanted.
A nuisance. The wrong gender, that my dad had wanted a boy and I was a disappointment.
Instead of the son I believed my dad longed for, he got a daughter as his only child. A fair skinned, freckled strawberry blonde daughter; he often shortened my name to Chris, only furthering this belief.
That afternoon at my kitchen table, decades of the wrong thinking came unraveled like a cozy sweater.
Warm and comfortable, but with one loose yarn, the entire thing came unraveled until I was free and understood the truth about myself.

I sat at an angle across from my dad as we sipped from our coffee. We were enjoying the slow-paced afternoon with coffee in my kitchen.

“Dad, do you remember that time that I was staying the weekend with you in Florida, when I was five or six years old, and we were both sick all weekend?”

Seemingly out of nowhere, as I stirred my coffee, a memory of this had flashed before me. “Yes, I remember that. I’m not sure if it was the flu, but you weren’t staying the weekend. It’s when you lived with me in Baton Rouge.”

I quickly shook that off, perturbed. “I never lived with you. I always lived with mom.” My parents divorced when I was very young, and I don’t have any memories of them together as a couple. My earliest memories are always with mom, and living with her.

Dad insisted. “Christi, you lived with me. You don’t remember?” Whatever, Dad. I wanted to know more about this sickly weekend and why we felt so bad. “What happened? Did we have food poisoning?” Dad persisted and asked again if I didn’t remember living with him, which I didn’t. I wish he’d stop saying that!

“Christi, I thought you knew. I thought you remembered. Or I would have told you and talked about it. I never brought it up because I didn’t want to bring up painful memories. I figured if you wanted to talk about it, you’d ask me.”

WHAT?! I sat there, stunned. “What?” I felt as if the world suddenly stopped spinning on its axis. Time had stopped for me. Again, I demanded, “What are you talking about?”

My dad, now over seventy years old, is gentle. He placed his hands on my knees and leaned in. “Christi,” He said my name, as if to stop the surreal experience that had my fragmented memories falling from the sky and bring me back to the present moment. “Christi, do you want me to tell you again what happened?”

 

He explained the early years of my life. My parents had separated when I was young as I’d remembered, but somehow I’d permanently altered other facts in my memory. I had, in fact, lived with my dad for some time.

He had custody of me and after a few years, before I was five, I moved back in with my mom and my new little sister.

I’d completely blocked this out of my memory.

I sobbed with relief as the truth washed over me. “You always wanted me.” He hugged me as I cried. We cried together as he patted my back, “Yes, you have always been my girl, I’ve always wanted you.”

“I never believed that. Now I know. You WANTED me. You FOUGHT for me. I MATTERED to you.” The tears were not from sadness, but more of a filling up that was happening in that very moment in my soul.

I pulled back and looked at my dad. “Do you realize that I’m forty-five years old, and my ENTIRE life I’ve believed the lie that you never wanted me? That you thought I was a nuisance and a mistake and you wished you’d never had me?”

We hugged and talked more. He assured me of the love that he’s always had for me, however imperfect. I felt as if I was walking on air for the next several weeks as I would sing-song to myself, “My daddy loves me. My daddy LOVES me!”

And for maybe the first time, I actually believed it.

 

As this reality has sunk in, the deeper reality of God’s love for me has permeated my soul and mind too. He is a Father, yet a perfect One. His love has persevered when I have believed Him to be mean. He has pursued me and fought for me. His love is costly.

Ordinary Miraculous Moments

No matter our relationship with our earthly dad, or lack of it, our Father God sees us, loves perfectly and powerfully. May we all let this truth sink in so we may live it out.

True Joy

joy, perseverance, steadfastness, suffering

Joy can mean happy, but not necessarily.  Maybe for the first time, I’m beginning to see that joy is not really based on circumstances.  Sure, I’ve heard that about 100 times. Happiness is a choice; Attitude is everything, so choose a good one; blah, blah, blah. It’s just been in the past couple weeks that I am really being to understand this a little. Things can be tough, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t experience joy. So does joy mean that we put on our fake smile and try to be charming in social settings so that everyone thinks we’re happy?  Or do we say, “Oh, yes, it’s been hard, but God is good.”? If you’ve seen me during a rough patch, I’ve probably given you both responses, but I’m learning that there’s a whole lot more to joy than that.

Look at what Jesus’ brother James says about it: Count it all joy, my brothers, whenever you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. This week I was really curious about this because frankly, I was irritated. What if I don’t want steadfastness? Or trials? When my kid is hurting and family members are physically suffering, or if we are going through really hard stuff, I should count it all joy? James says emphatically, “Yes”. Okay, when I thought about James’ perspective, it makes it a little easier to swallow. He was talking to the Jewish people who were believers of Jesus Christ, scattered among non-believing people, and they were being persecuted for their faith. I know some people don’t like me and relationships can be messy, but it’s quite a different perspective to understand that James penned these words to people who were really experiencing trials beyond what my suburban mind can fathom.

So James is coming at us with this outlook: You’re scattered from your home with people who don’t understand or think like you.  Some of them want to kill you because they don’t like that. But when you are being tested or in a trial, count it all joy.  That means think about it as joy, decide to find something to rejoice about. So I’m getting the idea here from James that joy doesn’t just mean that I’m a really smiley person with a great laugh, no matter how tough life is. He might be saying, Yes, you are facing persecution and loneliness and maybe death. Decide to find joy in it. Almost forgot!  Count it all joy. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops steadfastness.  I’m going to be really honest and tell you that I haven’t given much thought to developing perseverance before.  It sounds pretty good, but I wouldn’t necessarily want it as a trade-off for really hard times.

So I think the take away for me is this: I can be really mad and discouraged in trials of various kinds. I can kick and scream and question God about if He loves me, how could he not get me out of this. I can get downcast or depressed or just complain a lot. (I’ve done all of the above) But it seems a lot more beneficial to practice this upside down idea from James.  Maybe that’s what true joy is.  Deciding to choose joy in tough circumstances. Asking God to teach me through them and develop perseverance, character, and steadfastness in me through the trial.  Otherwise it would just end up being a rough time. I’d rather it be training ground for developing qualities in me that I didn’t know I needed, but boy do I need them!

True Joy: The world didn’t give it to me and the world can’t take it away.