I don’t remember living with my father; my parents divorced when I was a toddler. My dad wasn’t an absentee father, but there were no “Wednesdays and every other weekend” arrangements that are commonplace today. Mom had sole custody and my dad visited on sporadic occasions.
With a working, single mom at the helm, I grew up with too much liberty and too little leadership.
While I reveled in the freedom of a near parent-less existence, that same freedom fostered the notion that I could manage life on my own.
Feeling like an adult, I left my childhood home at the age of 15.
I had no idea I was operating with a little girl’s heart whose first love left nothing but scars of rejection, fear of abandonment and a gaping hole that longed to be filled.
Unknowingly, I hunted after people, possessions, and positions to quiet my soul. But the hole in my heart prevailed over any successes I captured.
It wasn’t long before I found myself divorced with two children, and on a therapist’s couch, did I learn that life as a daddyless daughter had been writing an indelible story on my heart.
Forging behaviors and habits that would be hard to erase. And forever shaping the motivation behind my actions.
Let me share what I learned on that couch. (These behaviors can also exist in women with physically present, but emotionally absent fathers.)
Fallout of the Fatherless:
• Rejected from day one, we fear abandonment. We may guard our hearts tightly, not allowing ourselves to be too emotionally invested in our relationships.
• We can mistake longing for love so we try harder and give more than we get in return. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, we subconsciously set ourselves up for the disappointment we are certain will come our way.
• We look for love in all the wrong places. Often seeking emotionally unavailable or older men.
• We’re uncomfortable relying on others because we navigated life and love on our own from a young age.
• We are generally people-pleasers. We can even compromise our moral code in order to be accepted and loved by others.
This was me! I had many, if not all of these symptoms. But, I masked my imperfections and continued to seek love only to be hurt by it.
Fortunately, as a young adult, I was able to spend some quality time with my father. But, just when I was getting to know him and make up for lost time, he would be snatched from my heart once again.
My father died very young … We never had the opportunity to finish “catching up”.
I didn’t get to walk down the aisle with my arm locked in his, trusting him to support my shaking legs. And my children will never know his calm demeanor and amazing wit.
With his death, I was taken back to that place of rejection, abandonment, and longing.
The pitfalls of being a daddyless daughter plagued me even when I became a Christ-follower.
My fierce independence and guarded heart made it difficult to trust God. To let Him in. To believe He truly loved me.
But one day, He stepped into my little girl heart in a very big way.
During a particularly sad evening missing my daddy, I snuggled up in my cozy chair, with my cozy covers, to spend time with God. I was burdened with the reality that although my head knew my father loved me, my heart never felt loved. Worse … any opportunity to change that had vanished.
And so I questioned God. Questioned whether He truly loved me. And if I could I trust His love would not fail me.
My eyes flooded as I poured out my wounded heart into God’s open hands.
I told Him about the empty space in my heart. I pleaded with Him to please show me that He loved me. That I was important to Him. That I could trust Him with my heart. “God, do you love me?” I cried out.
With my good cry out of the way, I picked up my Bible and settled in. My eyes landed on this passage…
“What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
I let my heart linger there a while. The words gripping me. Holding me in a new place of assurance I had never known. The floodgates opened once more. Joy and renewal washed over me. That gaping hole was filled.
The hurting little girl inside allowed God to pick her up and be held in her Father’s arms for the very first time.
Since that April night ten years ago, I’ve never again questioned God’s love for me. Oh, I’ve questioned why He puts me where He does and why He asks me to do the things He does, but I’ve never felt unloved. Even as a single woman.
God loves us more.
More than any earthly father. More than our spouse, children and friends.
You can count on that truth. And that truth can dust away any lingering rejection or abandonment you may have parked on a shelf in the hollows of your heart.
He has not forgotten you no matter where you are on your journey! Pray that verse over yourself and believe it.
He even cares about the sparrows, but you are so much more than that to Him.
Father’s Day is one of the most painful days for us daddyless daughters. Won’t you let Him end that for you this year? Ask God to clear this up for you once and for all. He will be faithful to do so. He wants to hold your heart safely in His hands.
If you have experience as a daddyless daughter, please share your journey with us in the comment section. We grow when we share.
A Truth: “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7
A Song: Good Good Father, by Chris Tomlin (Click to listen)
A Read: Daddy, Do You Love Me by Ariel Allison & Shelby Rawson
A Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me more. I want to be overwhelmed by your love. Remind me daily, that the proof of your love is the price that you paid. Let the tears I cry as I long for my earthly father be replaced with assurance of your love. Hold me, Father, forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.