Post by Faith Reboot’s Tanisha Henderson
My father and I started out with a close relationship. He would pick me up on the weekends and take me fun places. We would laugh. We would talk. We would bond. Then according to my childhood memory, it all ended abruptly.
No more outings. No more phone calls. And worst of all, no explanation. For the next 15 years, though my father lived 10 minutes away from me, we were millions of miles apart in heart. Sudden strangers.
I was a ten-year old pre-adolescent when we lost touch. I am not too naïve to believe that at a time when I needed my father the most, I probably pushed him away the most as well. Maybe a missed call turned into me avoiding all his calls. Perhaps one too many shrugged-shoulder answers made him feel I was giving him the cold shoulder. Whatever the reason, when the truth of feeling abandoned set in, the anger began to grow.
Feelings of being rejected followed. Being in denial fueled my drive to behave as if I had no father. When I was on the homecoming court, I didn’t ask him to be my escort. When I was put in the newspaper as a scholar, I deliberately listed my mom’s name only as my parent. My heart was hard.
Then one day, out of the blue, the Lord softened my heart and saved me. I was given a right standing with God. Praise the Lord for that! But, I still had no desire to make things right with my father. Then one day just as suddenly as the anger came, it left.
While planning my wedding, God placed a desire in me to include my father in the ceremony. In that very moment, God miraculously allowed me to forgive and forget and He sent me on a quest to reach out to my father. I was infused with a compulsive, unexplainable, dire need to reconnect with my dad. It never crossed my mind that he might reject me, rightfully so. The same week that I was asking around for his number, he called me. God had healed our hearts at the same time.
The second we met up, it was if we had never been apart. Neither of us asked “why.” We fully focused on “what now.” We hugged. We laughed. We bonded. Little did I know that 2 years after our reunion, my father’s only son would be murdered. I truly believe that God planned our rekindled relationship for such a time as that, so that I could be there for my father at a time where we both greatly needed each other.
Here are three important lessons I am glad that I learned from a father who God allowed to walk out of my life and then waltz back into it.
1. People leave. God doesn’t.
While I was hurt that my father had disappeared out of my life, his disappearance made me see God in a whole new light. Whenever I would feel lonely, I was always reminded that God was with me. That reminder served as a great contrast to what was happening between my dad and me. I was able to see my earthly father as fallible and my Heavenly Father as perfect. The heaviness that came with thinking that it was my fault that my father left, God used to confirm to me that there was nothing I could ever do that would make Him leave me. Amazingly, God used that severed relationship to point out the severity of my own brokenness. Two fathers. One limited, one all-powerful. What a good God that He would use my father’s absence to prove to me that He is always present.
2. Forgiveness can be instantaneous.
In retrospect, I wasted way too many years being vengeful. But, had I not fully swallowed the truly bitter taste of resentment, I might not have fully savored the sweetest taste of unexpectedly pardoning my dad and being unworthily pardoned by him in return. God taught me that forgiveness is not earned. I don’t need a reason to forgive. I need to live in the light of the instant forgiveness that God granted me and by sharing in His divine nature, I can now experience instant forgiveness. I wouldn’t believe it myself, if it hadn’t experienced it. Once with my heavenly Father thru Jesus, and now with my earthly father through grace.
3. It takes the power of the resurrection to turn the other cheek.
The gospel is the only perfect picture of reconciliation. God draws us to Himself out of love. It is not when we are on our best behavior, neither is it because we are looking for Him. Because God sought me as a sinner and then sent me to seek out my father, I experienced a glimpse of God’s undying love for me on display. God knew that any hindrance in me from completely loving my father would hinder me from wholeheartedly loving Him. In my own power, I couldn’t restore the relationship. Because God had reconciled me to Himself, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead then empowered me to reunite with my dad.
My father is soooo sweet. Both of them.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Growing up with only my mother was not God’s perfect will for me, yet He allowed that imperfect time in my life as part of the “all things” that He worked together for good. Praise be to God that I can look back on my past and see all that God was preparing me for in my present to help me live more wisely in my future.