Tiny Spark Series: The Father

Kaela Moore is The Girl Who Blogs and she does it well. She is a spunky mom, a photographer of pretty, a writer of little chunks of happiness she calls posts. Her blog reads like an ode to good things, the sugary, joyful, and blindingly bright bits of life.
    So I marvel a bit at the tough blows such a sweet spirit can overcome, how good you Good People can stay in the face of bad. For today’s Tiny Spark, Kaela discusses her role as Daughter.
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It was a moment I’ll never forget, holding in my hands a notarized letter from my father saying he no longer wanted to see me or my younger brother. My mom and step-dad had been as gentle as possible in breaking the news, but it was a blow that could hardly be softened.
 
I was seventeen and felt completely unwanted by the most important man in my life. When my parents were together, I had worked hard to hold his attention, to make him proud of me. I was an excellent student and struggled to master all of his hobbies, to be included in his life. After they divorced, it became more and more difficult to believe that I was of any importance to him at all.
 
This letter served to confirm what I had suspected for years: I was a problem. Something was wrong with me and he didn’t want to have to deal with me any more.
 
Two weeks later, he called asking when my brother and I were going to come see him. This was his way—exerting control, testing boundaries. I was exhausted by the games and refused to visit him for several years.
 
Meanwhile, I worked harder in school, got accepted to incredible colleges, and devoted myself to church and God and music. But I was empty. I couldn’t escape the fact that everything I did, I did with the purpose of proving that he was wrong about me. No matter how far away he was, I lived as though he was watching. When I looked in the mirror I saw deep down there was still something wrong with me, something that made me easy to leave, easy to neglect.
 
Our interactions continued to warp my opinion of myself. Incident upon incident left me feeling like I deserved to be treated as though I were disposable. In my frenzy to prove that I was valuable, I didn’t realize the full effect our relationship was having on me. I felt like a fraud, trying to make others believe I was worth something when I didn’t believe it myself.
 
I spent the year after I graduated high school at a ministry/worship music internship. That year put into motion the healing that I so desperately needed. I met some amazing people (among them, my husband), and started to look to God for some answers to the insignificance I was feeling.
 
It became clear that I knew God, but I hadn’t let Him get close to me. Secretly, I believed that He was like my dad and would treat with the same disregard. I’d been trying to convince God of my worth as well. I didn’t understand that when God looks at the world, He doesn’t see groups or churches—He sees individuals, and He sees straight to our hearts.
 
He saw me. He saw my hurt. He saw the lies I believed about myself. He saw the brokenness I felt. He saw the worthlessness and desperation lurking in my heart, and He wrapped His arms around me and started proving me wrong.
 
Slowly, I realized that I’d unknowingly given my father the power to dictate how I felt about myself. Nothing I felt was true. I wasn’t worthless. My dad–like everyone–had problems, but I wasn’t one of them. Only God could decide what I was worth, and He’d shown the world what He thought of me when He sent His child. All the years I spent exhausting myself trying to become something of worth, God had been patiently showing me that I was already priceless. Nothing I could do would ever make Him love me more or less.
 
The old feelings sneak up on me sometimes, but I’m learning. It’s becoming easier to believe the truth about myself. I have to make the choice to forgive my dad every day. I now understand that he was hurting and most likely had no idea how his behavior was affecting me.
 
I’d love to tell you that we have a good relationship now, but we don’t. However, I have established healthy boundaries and it’s given me room to feel compassion for him instead of bitterness. In this process, I’m learning more and more about Who God really is and how much He loves me. I adore the people in my life, but they no longer dictate how I feel about myself. Only God can do that.
 
I am one person in a large group of women who have been hurt by their fathers. Most women have experienced far more abuse than I have. We can find peace and healing when we realize that God sees each of us, each hurt we’ve endured, each wish to feel accepted and loved, and is ready to show us the truth if we’ll let Him.
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Have you struggled to earn someone’s favor? 
Where have you found acceptance, a sense of family?
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37 thoughts on “Tiny Spark Series: The Father

  1. So many people lose the parent lottery, and then spend many, many years cleaning up the mess. Fortunately, God can become the perfect parent we always wanted.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I fear that my children will some day be faced with this very same situation and it gives me hope to know that it can be overcome. I am giving them a foundation, through myself and God to have the tools to get over through it if is does happen.

    • My mom was key in making sure we knew we were loved regardless of our father’s behavior. They will appreciate the tools and the acceptance you are giving them–it will make all the difference!

  4. I envy you your compassion towards your father. Some of us daughters have never been able to set foot on the path of compassion when it comes to that singular male role model. Kudos to you for finding it in your heart!

    • I hope you are able to move towards compassion and forgiveness, Miranda. Bitterness is a prison that keeps us from enjoying the life we have. It never affects the person who wronged us. It cramps our mind and strangles our heart until we are defined by it.

      • I’ve tried to battle it by being a better mother to my boys than my father was to me. I don’t harbor any more anger toward my dad. I haven’t spoken to him or seen him in just over 20 years because our relationship was so toxic that was the only way I was going to survive it. I don’t hang onto it and it only bothers me when I feel that little bit of envy pop up, missing what I never really had to begin with. The little girl in me cries sometimes because I wanted a daddy, but the woman in me knows he just wasn’t capable of loving me like that……. You are so strong. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • My heart aches for you, Miranda. I know that little girl who misses her daddy all too well. I’m glad you had the strength to create distance in that toxic relationship, but I’m so sorry you didn’t have the attentive dad that every girl needs. I agree that these things help us to be better moms. You are stronger than I think you know.

  5. This is beautiful, Kaela. While my heart is sad that your relationship with your father has been damaging, I find tremendous inspiration from your ability to allow God to fill that void and help you forgive. You’re absolutely right that forgiveness is not about the wrong-doer. It’s about allowing yourself to accept, let go, and move forward. I commend your strength and faith! Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I’m fortunate in that my parents have always been loving and supportive (and are celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary this year). Posts like this remind me of how rare that is, and how lucky I am.

  7. I’m glad to hear you found the love of both God and your husband. It’s a hackneyed old phrase, but all things – especially learning to value yourself – are possible with His love.

  8. Thank you for this beautiful, heart-felt post. I’ve spent many hours of therapy working on the problems I have with my dad. Some days I’m great, my boundaries are strong, and I believe in myself regardless of how he feels. Other days, not so much. I loved the way you said you need to forgive your father every day. It is an ongoing procedure. May you be blessed as you continue to search for peace.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  9. Finding forgiveness and learning to let go is much harder than staying down and bitter, isn’t it? I’m glad you were able to see that you weren’t the problem at all and love yourself the way you are. A very moving and inspiring post!

    • It definitely is, Lillian! The freedom that comes with forgiveness is always worth the effort of releasing the bitterness. Thank you for reading and sharing encouraging words!

  10. how devastating. I can’t imagine holding a letter like that in my hand from my father. My father and I were never close. But I never questioned his love to be anything other than unconditional. Heart breaking. Truly.

    • Heartbreak can make us stronger, more compassionate people–that’s what I hang onto. I’m so glad you were always sure of your father’s love. That is an incredible blessing!

  11. Bravo. The steps you’ve taken can break what is probably a generations-old family cycle. Not that that doesn’t make it hard. Or lonely. Or devastating. Because I have my own familial issues with control, and I still struggle to break free of it, I know your pain. The only thing we can control is how we respond, and it sounds like you are to be admired for your strength in the face of such difficulty.

    • “The only thing we can control is how we respond…” YES! We cannot try to control–or take responsibility for–other people’s behavior. I feel for you and hope that you continue to break free from the cycle. I think it’s something we make the choice to do every single day. Blessings to you!

  12. Your story broke my heart. I admire your courage to tell your painful story and your strength to forgive him every day. I couldn’t imagine actually getting a letter that said that.

    My biological father didn’t see us much after my parents divorced when I was 3. I blamed myself because when I was five, I was too scared to spend the weekend at his house and he never visited us again. When he came to sign the papers for my dad to adopt us, he stepped right over me as I played jacks in the entryway. He didn’t acknowledge me at all. It hurt, but that was the moment I quit blaming myself for his absence. For that, I am thankful.

    • That is heart breaking. I don’t understand how some people can let go of their children. I am so thankful that you no longer blame yourself for his absence. We cannot venture to understand why people make the decisions they do. It is my hope that time has been good in healing your hurt. Thank you for sharing your story! We are not alone in what we have experience.

  13. One of the most freeing moments in my life was when I stood up to my dad. I was terrified, but I was more sick of it than terrified.

    It took me many years after that before I learned to have compassion even for him, but I did. Life was better for it. Life is better for it. I am grateful to read this post and understand just how much better life is. Thank you.

    • I’m so thankful you DID stand up to him and eventually found compassion. It can be easy to convince ourselves that “this is just the way things are.” Thank you so much for chiming in!

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