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.
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.
Have you struggled to earn someone’s favor?
Where have you found acceptance, a sense of family?
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Friday, January 25th