Daddy Issues

In a time and place where people are divided by a million things—Democrat or Republican, black or white, fries or tots—it’s good to remember what we share in common. As humans, we cherish secret hopes. We revolve around a unique set of values. We long deeply for love. And most of us have daddy issues. I’ve met remarkably few people whose stories depict a healthy, thriving relationship with their father over the long haul. For whatever reason, good dads are in short supply at this point. With all of the baggage surrounding our earthly fathers, it’s easy to foster misconceptions about our heavenly Father: who He is, what He’s like, how He thinks of us.

Regardless of the kind of dad you grew up with, there are some truths about God that will invite you up onto His lap to snuggle happily against His chest.

Every good daddy provides just a glimpse of what the Father is like. Maybe it’s a willingness to sit down and have a tea party or being on the front row cheering you on like crazy or planning a date for just the two of you. A quickness to laugh at your jokes or a quiet ease of not having to say anything at all to express his satisfaction. Maybe a wildflower picked just for you or a kind word when you’re having the worst day imaginable. A gentle squeeze, a thoughtful note, an eskimo kiss, that light in his eyes when he’s so proud of you he could burst. All of these are mere echoes of the great love in God’s heart toward you. Tiny reverberations hinting at the massive avalanche behind them.

This God who fashioned you exactly as you are, He rejoices over you. He dances around you, shows you off to anyone who will listen. He’s the sappy dad who’s never without a hilariously long strip of photos of you in His wallet. He lovingly chases you through the storm after you’ve balled up a fist and screamed, “I hate You!” in His face. He still rescues, still saves, still redeems, still seeks. He’s the Father whose love makes no sense; it’s embarrassing, really, how much He puts up with because He’s so smitten. But when the fact that I’m the one who puts Him through all of that sinks in, and I’m aware that He knows me down to my toes and still loves me without laughing or yawning, all I can do is fall to my knees and cry, “Holy!” Holy is He who holds me as I weep. Holy is He who provides every meal, who watches me drool in my sleep, who can’t stop smiling over my existence. Holy is this God, this Abba, Daddy.

This can all seem a bit spacey, I know. But over the last year, the Father has done a work in my own heart, renovating my views of Him, and I can’t help getting excited about it. Despite growing up in church and knowing all the right answers, my actual beliefs caused a rift between us. I thought He was only interested in what I could contribute toward His goals but was just waiting for Judgment Day when He’d tell me what I disappointment I’d been. He didn’t actually like me, I thought, He was just kind of stuck with me. But knowing that my feelings could be wrong (and were if Scripture is true), I immersed myself in counseling, books, Bible studies, music, and conversations about the fatherhood of God. These all helped me to cultivate a clearer, more accurate idea of our relationship. I can’t even begin to express what a difference it’s made for me.

I’m sorry if your dad wasn’t a good one. My heart aches for that lack in your life. Gut-wrenching reality says that abuse is typical. Neglect is in. Detachment, abandonment, abdication of responsibility: they all break the Father’s heart on your behalf. There’s an intimacy your heavenly Dad craves to share with you, and it might start with healing the gaping wounds left by your earthly dad. His longing is for you to run to Him with your funny stories, your emotional meltdowns, your big news, your night terrors, your celebrations. He has so much more in store for you than what you’ve known up to this point, and if you’ll tiptoe close, He’ll show you.

As a help for your heart to dwell on your Daddy’s goodness this Father’s Day, I’m sharing the playlist I put together over the past year. I hope you get lost in the bigness of His love for you.

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