Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: The Father of My Dreams
By Catrina Bradley
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When I was little, I liked to read stories about little girls. When I was a teenager, books about teenaged girls were some my favorites. The characters might have had strict and demanding fathers, but their fathers were also loving and kind. I was so jealous of those girls. I didn’t have a loving, kind father, only the strict and demanding one. The fathers in my books reprimanded and punished their daughters, but also gave hugs, or a kiss on the cheek. Those fathers had laps to sit in, and hands to hold. I only ever knew the reprimands and the punishment.
I craved a father who hugged his daughter, or gathered his little girl onto his lap for cuddles and kisses. That father didn’t exist in my home - only in my books. Those fictional fathers laughed with their children, read them stories, told their children how proud they were of their accomplishments. I struggled to do my absolute best in hopes of a word of encouragement, but I never heard one. I only heard from my father when I did something wrong. The fictional fathers listened and cared what their children had to say. My father didn’t listen to me, and he rarely spoke to me except to say, “Be quiet,” when I dared to voice my opinion. My father only ever had harsh words to say.
I took home wonderful grades. The other kids would come back to school after report card day talking about how their parents were so proud of them. I never had anything to contribute to those conversations except for, “Really?” When I got straight A’s my senior year, I hoped that would be the year I would finally hear him say, “I’m proud of you,” or at least, “Good job.” I guess straight A’s were what he expected, or he just didn’t care, because he didn’t say anything at all.
I read the Bible, too, when I was growing up. I knew that You were Jesus’ Father, and I felt kind of sorry for Him. Hearing that You were my Heavenly Father did not instill in me any comfort. Instead, it made me terrified of You. I knew from experience that fathers were to be feared. Mine struck terror in me. Knowing that You were my “Father” made me think I had to be perfect for You. After all, that was what fathers expected. People told me that You would accept me just as I am - less than perfect. I listened and I tried to believe, but decades of knowing “father” only as a harsh man who never showed any acceptance made that impossible for me to reconcile.
Abba Father, thank You for Pastor. He is the one who finally made me see You in a different light. When he began talking about fathers on that Sunday morning, I started tuning it out. I knew what fathers were like and I didn’t want another one. But his words, Father, his words. I know you were speaking to me through him. He said You were a different kind of Father than the one I know. He doesn’t even know my father, so I was amazed when he started describing him. Then he said You were different. He said that even if my earthly father didn’t hold me or let me sit in his lap or listen to me, that You would do all of that, and more. You DO hold Your children, You DO listen, and You don’t care if they aren’t perfect. He said You were the Perfect Father. You love unconditionally. And he said You could be MY Father.
I started thinking differently about You that Sunday. I truly started believing that You could love me like I am, and realizing what fearing You meant. I began to understand what Your Love was. I started think of You not only as God, Creator, Almighty, and Holy, but as Father.
Father, thank you also for giving my love for reading. It broke my heart to read about fathers, but, if I hadn’t, I would never have known how wonderful a father could be.
You are the Father I have wanted my whole life. Can I have a hug? Hold me close, Abba Father. I love You. And, Daddy? Can I sit in Your lap?
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