I sat in that chair in the movie theater while the credits rolled, and the ability to move vanished, leaving me paralyzed. The movie? Safe Haven. No, I wasn’t having another hopeless romantic moment. I was taken to a place of sudden realization and a romantic reaction was the farthest thing from my mind.
Shattered . . . that was me.
In this movie, there is a family. A dad, a mom, a daughter, and a son. If you want the whole story, just watch the movie. But there is a one specific part of the movie that took a knife straight into the broken pieces of my heart–pieces I had thought over the years had been mended back together–and shattered them back into a million more pieces. Picture a little kid who has a puzzle with 1000 pieces and overtime works a little at a time to finish it, and then some one comes along and knocks the puzzle off the table and he has to start all over again . . . that was me.
As the movie goes along the audience comes to find out that the mom passed away because of cancer when the kids were little. But she leaves her son and daughter these letters. A letter for her daughter on her wedding day. A letter for her son on his graduation day. A letter for the defining moments of their lives that she would miss, but that she wanted to somehow speak into.
Being almost 20, and living the past 11 years of my life without a father, there have been so many moments where I would have done almost anything to have my dad’s own words being spoken over my life. The night before my high-school graduation I sat in the floor of my mom’s closet looking at old pictures weeping, because the never ending desire of wanting to know “what would he say to me today” was consuming.
Anger is the raging fire that consumes the arsonist. That day I was the arsonist and I was going up in a million flames.
Why didn’t my dad write me letters?
Maybe you are like me. Maybe your dad knew that his days were numbered and yet still chose to leave behind nothing. Maybe you aren’t like me. Maybe your dad had no idea that his days were coming to end sooner than ever imagined. Maybe your dad isn’t physically gone at all, but he chooses to be. Maybe you dad is there, but he chooses everything else before choosing you.
Pick any of them, and I can assure you a daughter who has a father that is absent in any way is longing to hear something, anything.
The anger that birthed in my heart that day was a wildfire. It didn’t just take days to put out, it took months and months. My heart shifted though–a shift that was brought about by a simple thought of how many other girls were out there that were not only without a father too, but were without that same letter I dreamed of. You see, when our hearts make that shift from anger, resentment, pity, and sorrow to acceptance and compassion, our hearts soften. When our hearts soften they become open and willing to see purpose. I can’t write you that letter, but I can remind you of the letter that has already been written instead of the one that never was.
Right now you might be the mother of an 8 year old daughter who won’t read this post until she is older. Right now you might be the 15 year old girl dreading the idea of a sweet 16. Right now you might be the girl about to go off to college. Right now you might be the woman about to get married. It is in those moments that you are reminded again and again that he isn’t here.
Just know that no matter how much I can understand where you are, or relate to your circumstance, there is nothing I could ever give you that would be what you need. There is nothing I can ever say that will help. But Jesus can. He is what you need, and His words not only help they heal.
Jesus is what you need,
and His words not only help
I didn’t have those letters like the characters in the movie. But Jesus walked with me hand in hand to where I am now maybe for one purpose . . . To assure those of you who don’t have your earthly father speaking over you on a day to day basis, and those of you who are left behind like me with nothing . . . that you are going to make it. Maybe my job is to assure the mom of that little girl . . . she is going to make it.
And this is why.
Nothing your earthly father could say will ever be enough.
But everything that Jesus says is enough.
That letter you are craving, you have it. It is available to you today and everyday. His word, His promises, that is the only letter you will ever need. That is the letter that will get you through those nights when you are thinking, “What would he say to me today?”
The only way to come out of it is to go through it. The only way to go through it is to admit that you are where you are.
For those of you who are in that state of anger do NOT be ashamed. The only way to come out of it is to go through it. The only way to go through it is to admit that you are where you are. It won’t go away over night, but rest in the fact that you have a Heavenly Father that is speaking out not only something, but exactly what you need to hear today and everyday.
This is what your Father writes to you. This is your letter.
To the girl who just needs to hear her father say her name:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God…” (1 John 3:1)
He claims you as His child. He calls you His daughter.
To the girl who needs to know that she is not fatherless:
” . . . a father to the fatherless.” (Psalm 68:5)
He is your Father.
To the girl who wants her father to know how much pain she is in:
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our savior who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
He not only sees your pain, He bears it with you.
To the girl who feels like her father doesn’t listen:
“You, Lord, know the desired of the afflicted, you encourage them, and listen to their cry.” (Psalm 10:17)
He is listening.
To the girl who feels helpless and unprotected:
” . . . defending the fatherless, and the oppressed so that mere earthly mortals will never strike terror again.” (Psalm 10:18)
He defends you.
To the girl who longs to have her father hold her:
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times.” (Psalm 91:14-16)
That letter we thought was never written . . . it was written. Read it. Believe it. Cling to it. Breathe it in.
Remember, His words are greater than anything anyone could offer you.