I’m finally able to begin writing about meeting my father for the first time. There are several reasons why I’ve waited this long to tell the story. The biggest (and most recent) reason for putting it off is because it didn’t work out in the end the way I had hoped. I mean, who wants to read “unhappily ever after”? I certainly don’t like writing about things that are difficult or messy. I don’t have all of the answers to this one and I am still sorting through what ultimately happened in the end- so it’s hard to write through those things. I’ve come to the conclusion though that writing about it will help me move on- and I shared so openly about it in the beginning that I feel like I left it hanging for many. Also though, I’ve been recently convicted that our expectations and the endings that we think would bring God the most glory are at times contradictory to God’s plans for our lives. So those things being said…here goes nothing.
It all began with a photo. (This is not me in the photo btw) My mom moved and brought over a gift bag full of pictures. One night I sat down and started going through them. I stumbled upon this photo and burst into tears. I had seen photos of my father but in all of them he was always looking down- not at the camera. I immediately called my mom to see if this was in fact a photo of my dad. She confirmed. I cried for 24 hours straight. I had to look him up. It was a strange feeling because I never really had a desire to find my father. Once when I was 14- but when all of my efforts proved futile, I gave up and moved on. I was 31 now and I just needed to know. Was he even still alive?
A little background info: My mom married my dad when she was 17 and she had me at 19. She was terribly ill being pregnant with me and my father was working non-stop to provide for them. She moved in with her parents because she couldn’t care for herself being so ill and he decided to become a truck driver. And that was it. He left and she raised me on her own.
I did a little bit of digging on the internet and was able to locate my father in Arkansas. My husband (Being the amazing protector that he has always been since we were 17) insisted that we run a background check. It came back clear (although you really can’t tell much about a person through background checks, except that they haven’t been convicted of anything major). I decided to contact him and mailed off a letter. Not even a week later I received a card in the mail with my father’s phone number. I hit my knees. I cried uncontrollably and just kept asking my husband, “Are you kidding me?!?!?!” He just stared at me in bewilderment. He does that often. I will always remember the first time I heard my father’s voice. I was scared to death and at the same time a strange peace filled my heart. His voice was comforting. The man that I had wondered about my entire life was on the other line. There’s no words that can really describe what that was like.
We had many conversations on the phone and sent texts daily. It’s a strange phenomenon really, finding a parent as an adult. There were emotions that came up- longings fulfilled that I didn’t even know I had or needed. Hearing your own father telling you that you are beautiful, for instance. It was life changing. Hearing about my family history explained so much. Even just seeing photos of my father- I see where I get my long skinny arms from. It was all so surreal. All so incredibly life giving. We decided to meet one another halfway between Arkansas and Texas: Oklahoma. My mom drove me, which I was thankful for. It was an amazing weekend, honestly. I was incredibly nervous the entire time- but I was thankful to have met him face to face. I brought a photo album for him, captivating my entire existence and we sat and went through it together. I shared stories from my childhood, places I had been, things that I had experienced. Meeting him was a great thing, but also incredibly hard emotionally. I could see that he was in really rough shape physically. It broke my heart. I was determined to help. How could I not? How could any human being with an ounce of decency look at a person in such a condition and not want to do something? Discussion about the possibility of him moving to Texas began.
Here’s where it gets complicated. I have always been an open book. I have zero issues loving people and letting them into my life. If you follow me on any social media, you know this. I don’t really like the idea of having “acquaintances”. If I know you, I love you and I care about you. It’s just the way I’m wired. I’m learning how to be a bit more guarded now, but it isn’t easy for me. I have always been a “what you see is what you get” kinda gal. My life ins’t compartmentalized. I don’t even begin to understand how one would go about living such a life. So I let people in. As much as they would like to be a part of my life, they are welcome to. Or so it used to be. I’m learning now that sometimes that isn’t the healthiest thing. Especially to people who need a savior. You cannot be anyone’s savior. You cannot possibly meet everyone’s (or anyone’s) expectations. You just can’t. To even try (even if you don’t realize that’s what is happening) is to bring a good thing crashing to the ground. I’m not saying you can’t help people. Helping is a good thing. Loving people is a good thing. Sharing the gospel and your only hope with other people is a good thing. Always keep in mind though while loving people, there is a reason you should never jump into the water with a drowning person. They will grab onto you with all of their might and neither of you will survive. That’s basically what happened with me and my father. I tried to love him and help him. I shared the hope of the gospel every opportunity that I could. I tried to help him start a new life in Texas where he could be cared for and get out of an awful situation. I tried to do the right thing. He tried to make me his sole source of happiness. He needed what I couldn’t possibly give. I’m not a life raft. When I tried to work through those things with him and it became more clear to my husband and I that we needed to take this thing slower. We needed to get to know him more before we committed to moving him down here into our lives. He needed to understand that I have a family and a life- and that I can’t meet his expectations. When I explained those things, the truth came spilling out. When you grip onto someone for happiness and they don’t meet your expectations, you will hate them for it.
There is much more detail to the story that I can’t share this openly. But all that to say, It didn’t work out the way that I had hoped. Though, I know the Lord has a plan. He is the one who put the desire in my heart to find my father in the first place. I was able to share the gospel with him and by God’s grace, show him forgiveness. I also have some closure to my childhood and answers to questions I’ve had all my life. For those things I am incredibly grateful.
I will share also, it is the absence of my father in my life that drove me to the gospel. All I ever wanted was the unconditional love of a father. I ran into the world hard looking for it only to come up empty handed. It’s what drew me into the gospel. The promise of unconditional love. God will never turn me away because I fail to meet his expectations. He will never turn against me or stop loving me because all of His requirements He met for me in the death of his son, Jesus. I have his acceptance and will forever be His daughter. God, in his wisdom, also gave me my (now) husband at a very young age and I see that as a beautiful gift. Dallas has been by my side loving me and protecting me since we were teenagers. He has been the one man in my life. I have learned so much from his being in my life and I absolutely adore and respect him. Watching him love our daughter well for the past nearly 10 years has also been healing for me. She has what I will never understand from a human standpoint but watching them interact has taught me so much about my relationship with my Heavenly Father. She runs to him without any fear. She knows he will always be there for her- there is no doubt in her mind that she is loved by that man. It makes me smile just thinking about it.