When my father died almost three years ago August 23rd, I lost him to this earth. But I truly believe that I gained a father in heaven. I had this image of my Dad up there standing by The Father looking down on me. I was truly surrendered to the idea that God IS my Father. My father showed me in the best way he could, how much the Father loved me. There were many times I felt distant from him, especially since he lived three hours away. But it's in those times, I never doubted his love. It's in those times, that I realize today, it was God who was filling in the gaps. Today, with Dad walking with my spiritually, I know that God is still filling the gaps I feel from him not being here with me physically. That - is truly a gift.
I don't know how close you are to your dad. I don't know if you are a child of divorce like me, and your Dad lives far away, or it's your Dad who you live with and Mom lives far away. I don't know if your Dad was present every day, but emotionally it felt like he was absent. I don't know if your Dad was present, but he abused you - verbally, emotionally or physically. Only you know what you experienced. What I do know is that whatever we experience with our dad's - in their absence and their presence - we get to see the love of God the Father.
I remember feeling so different as a kid. My Dad lived far away. I'd go see him every other weekend. He'd come to as many recitals and games as he could. He would literally get in a car or on a train and spend three hours traveling to get me on a Friday afternoon and turn around to take me back to Washington. Then he'd do it all again on Sunday. Until I got older, I didn't realize how incredibly committed he was as a father and how lucky I was to have him do anything he could to be fully present in my life.
But no matter how much he loved me, I still felt different than others - whose Dad lived with them. It was that Unhealthy Voice in my mind telling me that I was less than because Dad wasn't around. I'd wonder why they got to have their Dad in their lives, and I didn't. But my mind was still developing and I didn't know, even though he was far away, just how huge his love was for me.
Was he the perfect Dad? No. He loved his work and sometimes I felt like it came before me and his family. But by the end of his life, I was a proud daughter that he lived so passionately for a cause. He truly did show me how to live in that sense. But I know, as a father who left, he felt bad that he left. I know that he used material things that cost money, to prove that he loved me. We both knew that by the end and it's been a journey for me realizing that my worth doesn't rest in material wealth. He also watched me struggle on the outside with my parents' divorce. In fact, it was a struggle we shared in fluctuating weight. Every time he saw me with added weight, I think he felt bad, like he had a role in that. And since he struggled with his weight too, he'd immediately want to fix it. He'd put me on a diet every time the weight packed on. But again, we had healing in that when I went to treatment and we realized that the amount of money he spent on diets for me, never would get to the source of the problem of what was going on inside me. Still today, I am grateful for that realization we had together about how it's not about the weight.
I am grateful for every single moment he spent with me on this earth. Not for one minute did I think he wasn't walking the journey with me. He's a big reason why I know in my heart today, that God is always walking with me, because Dad showed me in his great love, just how much the Father loves and I am eternally grateful for that gift.
Today, I know that my hope rests in the Lord. Today I know that when life gets rough, that God is always going to be there for me. The coolest part is that when I do turn to him in those moments, I know that my Dad is right there, looking down on me from heaven, and sometimes sitting on one side of me with his arm around me telling me, "It's going to be okay." You can't get any closer to peace than that.
I miss my Dad every single day. But I connect to him every day somehow. And sometimes, when the grief is so deep and great, I just let the feelings ride knowing that he will never leave my heart and that someday, I'll get to see him again. And I can't wait for that.
Oh, and one more thing - the really beautiful part? My Dad and stepmom gave me a brother who's got the same eyes as me and Dad. Every single time I see him, we give each other a giant bear hug. It gets me choked up even just to think about it. That's a gift I never would have expected from heaven.