Good, But Not Good Enough
Have you ever given God your heartaches, pride or trust issues? Well, one area I had, or so I thought.
It’s amazing how life will dictate your view of God if you’re not careful. Thankfully my mother and grandmother gave me a biblical foundation at an early age. But all the religious rules made me feel I had to perform for God to hear my prayers. So I tried being good, wanting to please God, but life had a way of reminding me that I wasn’t good enough.
Growing up, my father never went out of his way to be in my life. My parents divorced when I was only a year old. He always made promises but never showed up to any school functions, rarely sent birthday cards, and the few visits we shared, he was always busy with work or errands.
As the oldest child, I struggled to understand what I was missing. When my father remarried and had three children, they were proof to me that he had the capacity to love, but my seven years old mind thought he just couldn’t find any for me.
When I was seven or eight years old, I remember visiting my father and he told me I was “too skinny and would blow away in the wind.” That shattered my little world as it was another reminder that I was not good enough. Then in my teens I went to visit my father and his first words to greet me were “You’re too fat. You need to lose some weight.” I wished I had thicker skin.
Now fast forward twenty-something years.
The day before my 41st birthday I got a phone call. The raspy voice on the other end greets me like an old friend, “Hey, how are you babe?” I say, hello and ask “Who is this?” A little surprised, he responds “You don’t know your father’s voice?” I mumble, trying to find the words because frankly no, I didn’t know his voice. He continued, “I am in town and want to see you today.” My mouth dropped in shock, but I agree to go.
After work, I go home to tell my family of the surprised phone call I received and then fear hits me.
My mind begins racing. Why now? I don’t know him. Can I trust him? Am I strong enough? All the insecure emotions came flooding in and I began crying.
Then my phone rings (disrupting my cry fest), and my father tells me to meet him at his sister’s house.
At that moment I began having a flashback.
I was 14 years old and asked to spend the Christmas holiday with my father and his family. I was so excited; it had been over five years since I had seen them. Two days before Christmas, my father picked me up late at night and drove to his sister’s house. I hadn’t seen that side of my family in a long time and I was excited to see my aunt; my fondest memory was her dancing to the 70’s classic “Brick House” by the Commodores.
That night, my aunt greeted us with hugs and kisses and had me and my two younger sisters’ sleep in one of her sons’ room.
We were sleeping well, when late that night a guy walked in the room; he turned on the light and began rustling through drawers. I ignored the disturbance thinking he is retrieving something.
He then began jingling his keys and flicking the light switch repeatedly. I dismissed it to be the guy was angry his bed was given away, but I don’t want any confrontation so I continued to try to sleep. Then I felt the guy climb into the bed, moving close till our bodies touched. I was so scared I froze.
I laid there on my stomach as the guy ran his hands inappropriately over my shoulders and down to my butt. I kept thinking, “We’re family, what’s wrong with him?” I was convinced that if I pretended to be asleep, then he would give up and leave. I prayed that someone would save me that night.
The guy continued noise antics for a while, and then he left the room. Still frozen in place, I waited to see if my tormentor would return. Then I mustered up the nerve to wake my father across the hall. I quietly knocked and opened the door to tell my father what happened, but his glare told me that he was irritated that I woke him. In a grumbling tone, my father told me, “Get a chair from the kitchen to place under the bedroom door, if you’re so scared.” I felt that my father thought I was lying. Fearful of not knowing where the guy was; I asked my father to get me a chair. I took the chair, closed the bedroom door and placed it under the door knob. As I looked at my makeshift lock, I knew at that point I was on my own.
The next morning I woke to my little sisters’ asking to watch cartoons. We went into the den and I saw two guys sleeping on the couch. Fear hit me again. I know one of them was in the room. I asked my sisters if they were hungry and went to the kitchen to make cereal, anything to leave the room. Then one of the guys came into the kitchen, got on the phone and began bragging about how grown up I am. He said, “We were almost kissing cousins last night” and then looks my direction with a big grin. His boldness intimidated me, but now I knew my tormentor.
On the car ride to my father’s house, I told my father about the phone call, but he felt I was wrongly accusing his nephew since the night I woke him I didn’t know who the intruder was. I knew at that moment nothing would be done and that holiday would be last time I stayed with my father.
I thought I had given this to God.
But this fear said otherwise. Overwhelmed, I tell my daughter, “I can’t do this! The cousin who violated me may be there. What will I say? What will he do?” I verbally battled between fear and trusting God. I am sure I looked like mad woman to my family.
Then I heard God’s small voice remind me, “You’re not that timid, helpless little girl anymore.”
In appearance I look a lot like my father, but I made sure I didn’t live or parent like him. Not using drugs or alcohol. Going to church; and being an active parent and committed in marriage to one man. But it was all from the wrong place, pride.
I wanted my father to see how well I turned out without him, but like every little girl I longed to connect with my father and that day I got the nerve to go meet with him.
I was very much afraid and prayed on the car ride to my aunt’s house, but I knew God was with me.
When I entered the house my father was eating and watching football; he barely acknowledged my presence with a hello. A little confused, I went to the kitchen to talk with my aunt, waiting for my dad to join us. The game ended and someone asked my father for a ride. He quickly agreed and asked me to tag along; I could feel fear beckoning me. As he drove, he asked to meet my family. Briefly hesitant, I followed by giving him directions to my house. We visited for hours as my father shared stories of his life. With each story the mystery man I longed to know became clear but it wasn’t pretty.
As night approached, I tell my father, “It’s getting late. I need to get my car.” On the ride back to my aunt’s house, my father begins telling me how he never wanted his kids to have the dysfunctional life he had growing up. He was molested, raped, given drugs and made a sex slave.
He went on to say, “Out of my three daughters, you were the one I fought to keep from.” Confused I ask, “What are you talking about?” My father told me, “You know my past. Well, I had to pray to keep from touching you.” Pray? I asked my father if he believed in Jesus and he answered, Oh yes! I may not look like it, but I know Him! And it’s by His grace that I didn’t touch you.”
Shocked and struggling to process what I just heard, I looked at my father’s downward tilted head in shame and said, “I forgive you,” and gave him a hug.
I got into my car and drove home trying to make sense of it all. Why did he feel the need to tell me this after 41 years? I was so hurt that he had those thoughts about me.
At home, I told my family the very words my father spoke moments ago. I watched as each member of my family looked at me in disbelief, and they too began having negative thoughts about him.
I announced that my birthday celebration was off.
I walked to my bedroom crying and thinking about my childhood. I so longed for my father to be in my life and for years I felt abandoned and rejected, like I was his “step-child.”
I had a pity party with God that night, asking a lot of “why” questions. I yelled out my frustrations to God, “Was it not enough that I was molested and raped growing up? My father could have been one too? God where were you.”
Then God answered me in love, “I was with you and cried over you. Now don’t you see I protected you?”
The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see that my father may have never prayed to stop using drugs, stop using alcohol or to not have sex with who knows what.
But with you Yoki, he prayed.
That powerful statement humbled me. My father had numerous addictions and those addictions ruined two marriages, and strained every relationship he ever had. My father was no role model; you won’t find a greatest dad mug on his shelf, but I knew I needed to meet him where he was in life.
Some may think I’m optimistic, but I came to realize that My Heavenly Father would rather me be hurt by my father’s absence than to be scarred like him. God had heard my prayers, cried with me over my hurts and loved me when I felt unwanted and unlovable. On the cross Jesus said I was good enough and His love is all I need.
If I could talk with my 12 year old self I would tell her; don’t give up on life, it will get better. Don’t be so afraid, they only have the power you give them. And always remember you are stronger than you think and the pains of life don’t define you. Be courageous, trust God and love people.Love is all around us, but people can only give what they have inside. Click To Tweet
We are taught that love looks a certain way, and we only look for the form we identify with. Love is all around us, but people can only give what they have inside. So you can’t ask them to give what they have not received. I learned that day that there are many forms of love in this world and on my 41st birthday my father shared his.
If you have ever felt rejected, abandoned, or alone; I pray the Lord Jesus Christ heal your broken heart and open your eyes to see you’re loved. You are no accident and you are good enough. You are here with a purpose and are accepted by the only One that matters, Jesus. Amen.