Co-authors Stasi and John Eldredge noted in the text Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul that, “Until you forgive, you remain their prisoner.” I have been harboring ill feelings (unforgiveness) towards another human being for the past seven months. Why? You ask. Because he was one more man on the growing list of many who have discarded my heart, love, and affections. Recovering from the rejection and loss hasn’t been easy. It’s never easy to bounce back from disappointment. But it is true that time heals all wounds. What I have learned is that some wounds take longer to heal. To this day I am unable to watch one specific commercial because it reminds me too much of the last man who walked away from me. Because I turn the channel or divert my attention each and every time that commercial comes on, simply proves that I haven’t completely forgiven this man. I have backed myself into a corner and the only way I can get out is to forgive him. But the truth is, I don’t know how to get onto the path of forgiveness.
The last man’s rejection left me feeling like the fourteen-year-old version of me. Once again I was that girl searching for guidance from a father that wasn’t available—physically or emotionally. Each time a man has chosen to leave, the pain of that initial rejection from my father resurfaces, and I once again question my self worth. When my father divorced my mother he divorced himself from me too because our relationship hasn’t been the same ever since. While we have made some headway over the years, the little girl that lives inside me wants her dad(dy) to be there to shield, rescue and comfort her from the harsh realities of life.
I remember vividly the moment when I knew my father wasn’t returning—not just from the trip he’d gone on—but to his family. My family had recently returned from a three-week cross-country vacation in our motor home. My older brother had just graduated from high school, and I was fourteen years old. My father had left for Michigan (not sure if it was business or pleasure that time) and when he didn’t come back when he was expected, I knew that my nuclear family would be forever changed. One night I awoke to odd sounds downstairs. Slowly, I crept down the stairs to find my mother on the floor in the living room shredding—quite literally–my father’s hunting rifles. Without making a sound I sat there on the steps for a few moments. My mother must have been in a trance because she never noticed me, never heard me, never turned around, and never stopped hacking. As she hacked away at the guns, I knew with all certainty that their marriage was in serious trouble. When my father finally returned home a week or two later, he merely came to retrieve some personal items. Just like that I had become a statistic. I was one of those kids whose parents divorced. I was one of those kids growing up without a father in the home. Sure, he lived in the same city, just a few miles a way in fact, but from that moment forward our relationship was strained. I was a girl without her father’s guidance. I was a teenage girl who was clueless about navigating the interests of the male species.
I think I’ve spent the past twenty-something years running from the pain of being the statistic—the 50% of North American children whose parent’s divorce. Along with that, I presume that I’ve subconsciously, and to some degree, consciously feared that every man who walks into my life will do the same thing my father did—unexpectedly leave. It’s the classic case of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Psychologists define this phenomenon as the process in which an individual’s expectations about another individual eventually lead the other individual to behave in the way that confirms their expectations. This is to say that I expected every man who entered my life to also one day exit my life because they were men, just like my father, not capable and/or interested in maintaining their commitment.
I don’t want to be a closed flower or a caged bird. I don’t want to be hard and calloused. I don’t want to stop feeling. But I do want to know love, security, protection, passion, and commitment. I want the freedom to love without the fear of being rejected. I want the freedom of being quirky. I want the freedom to express myself without being misunderstood. I simply desire to be free from other’s judgments. I seek to live a life without regrets or condemnation. I admit to making my fair share of mistakes. I am far from perfect, and I’m okay with that. I want to also be okay with life’s disappointments without them decimating me emotionally and psychologically.
I’ve come to realize that I’m that little girl who’s craving for her father’s attention. I’m the same little girl who followed her father out into the garage or out into the yard. I’m that same girl—only now a woman—seeking her father’s validation and love. If my father had let me, I probably would have followed him everywhere. It didn’t matter if he was tinkering with one of his motorcycles or playing with a turkey call, I wanted to be right there stealing away some of his love, time and attention. Perhaps I’ve been doing the same thing all these years later. Though every man has been different, the desire has remained the same—maintain the commitment and give me the attention and love I didn’t get from my father.
Today I’m asking God to heal my heart once and for all. I’m asking God to give me all the love and attention that I lacked from my earthly father. I undoubtedly love my earthly father, but have come to understand that we cannot go back in time to reclaim what has been lost. I forgive him for his humanity and hope that he can do the same for me. If there is one thing I have gleaned over the years, it is that we are all doing the best we can with the information we have obtained.
As I close, there are questions that I need God, The Father, to answer. What is it that makes me special? What do you see in me? What makes me captivating? When the answers to these questions are revealed, I am confident that the constant yearning in my heart will dissipate and a peace I’ve never known will fill me to overflowing. And so I ask you dear reader, what question(s) do you need The Father to answer?