Monday, July 28, 2014

My Mama's Father

"Daddy!  Daddy!  Come look!  Do you see me, Daddy?  Don't I look pretty?"

The silence said it all.  She wasn't good enough.  Or if she was, she would never know.  Her daddy didn't kneel down, smile, take her small hand and say, "Yes.  You are so pretty, the most beautiful."

So year after year, she tried performing to her best - her most vibrant liveliness, and when that didn't work, her most quiet politeness; her best grades; her tenderest heart; her most giving self; her perfect attendance at school (even after cleaning up her own vomit in the bathroom because of the stomach flu); her relentless affection for him, Daddy.  He never returned any of it, but if he had, it would have been her most tremendous treasure.  And it's a treasure she sought long after he died.

I will be blunt, but do not confuse this with disrespect.
I never loved my grandfather.  I knew that I should have, but I didn't.

The exact opposite of my always-loving, positive and warm grandmother, my mother's father was cold and distant.  I made peace with him before he died when I was 12, in a dream that I believe God wove together just for me...and a part of me hopes that my grandfather saw it, too.  Even though I don't love him, I want to love him because of how my mother and aunt and grandma loved him despite all that he withheld from them.

My mama has many times recounted stories of her father, and her heartbreak appeared right in front of me each time.  I held her crumbling heart in my hands, trying to find words to put it back together.

She talked about always wanting to please him, just seeking his LOVE...and I would later find out that he never gave her the love she deserved.  But with sincere adoration for her father, she still pictures herself a fractured young girl, waiting in dark living room silence for her daddy to drop his eyes to her and smile.

She wanted him to choose her.  But he didn't.  He was so persistent in not choosing her, that rejection outlined each of her mornings and each of her bedtimes, and it tightened around her like a noose.  But she. still. loves. him.

When I think about the word "daddy," the whole globe bubbles up with importance.  A daddy fortifies life; he reinforces the meaning of beauty in how he cherishes it in his daughter, he teaches his daughter to love herself because he loves her in every word he speaks, he creates safety and security in her very being.

I wish my mom and my tante (aunt) had this in an earthly father.  I wish I could go back in time and beg God to send a message to my grandfather about his high calling, a father to two eternally gorgeous and stunningly talented girls.

But what they have - what we all have - is greater.  Our heavenly Father loves us affectionately.  For many, this is difficult to receive because some of you have had fathers that were abusive, absent, or neglectful.  Thank God, I never endured that.  But many have.

Here's what we all need to know and remind ourselves:

Our Abba is Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5).
Every good and perfect gift is from Him (James 1:17).
He is the God of all comfort,Who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinth. 1).
He calls us altogether beautiful (Songs 4:7).

Finally, Jesus tells us that we have one true father, and He is in heaven.

As a little girl, I related with my mom, and pictured her as a little girl trying to make her daddy love her.
As a teenager, I got fiercely upset with my mom for still caring about her foolish dad, and for still longing for his obviously-absent affection.
As a woman, part of me wishes I could pick up my mom's little girl heart and mend it.
But with God's wisdom I know what Mama now knows -- she has a true Daddy Who has loved her with an everlasting Love since she was knit together in my grandmother's womb.