Growing up, I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents. Being lucky enough to have both sets of them living at the beach led to summers that, I can see now, were very spoiled. I was equally close to both sets.
Though I didn’t have much of a relationship with my father, I was very close to his parents. My grandmother taught me how to make the Christmas candies that I still make each year. She encouraged my love of crafting and would always—always—take me to the local craft store to buy a project that would last however long I was going to be at her house. She and I crocheted together and cross-stitched together, and she even tried (and sadly, failed) to teach me how to use a sewing machine.
My grandfather would tell me inappropriate jokes that not only went way over my head but ones that my grandmother would fuss at him for non-stop. He taught me how to fish from a pier, clean a fish, and then prep and fry it for dinner. When “spots” would run in the fall, he’d spend hours on the pier catching as many as possible so that I could eat my weight in them the next time I was there.
I loved them dearly.
As the only granddaughter, I looked forward to my wedding day with them in it. I imagined my grey-haired grandmother sitting in blue (her favorite color) on a pew behind my parents. I wondered if my grandfather would go around and tell inappropriate jokes to the crowd at the reception while I was busy being the bride.
My relationship with my father was quite different. No relationship at all, in fact, unless you consider that we did live in the same home for the first 13 years of my life. He was a difficult man. An angry man. And someone I literally prayed God would remove from my life, until the day my parent’s divorced.
So, when my wedding approached, and I asked both my stepfather (whom I was very close to) and my father to walk me down the aisle as a way to respect both of them.I didn’t see what would come next: I was completely disowned by my father's side of the family. Click To Tweet
Not one of them showed up on my wedding day. Not my grandmother in her blue dress. Not my grandfather with his list of jokes. Not my aunt, who was like a second mother to me.
It was shocking to me that you could love someone your entire life, share every moment that mattered with them, allow them to know you better than anyone—and then have them walk away as if you meant nothing.
As if they didn’t know your heart or your intentions at all.
For a couple of years, I spiraled. Unsure of who I was. Of whether or not there was anything good in me that anyone would want in their life. Of who would walk out next.
Until my daughter was born.
For the first time in my life, I began to understand what the relationship between a parent and a child could be and should be—not the one I had been given in my own life. My love for her was so overwhelming, so powerful, so unchanging that I couldn’t fathom a parent who chose to ignore, or emotionally harm, or simply not care about the child they’d brought into this world. I realized that it wasn’t me who had done something wrong, it was my father. And I began to look at my situation in a new light.
After twenty-eight years of not understanding why anyone would want another “father” in their life to hold them down, I began wondering if maybe—just maybe—God felt just a little of what I felt for my daughter, towards me.
It turns out, there was even more than that.
More than me beginning to know and understand Him was the realization that He had always—always—known and understood me.
“Deeper than knowing God is being known by God. What defines us as Christians is not most profoundly that we have come to know him but that he took note of us and made us his own.” – John Piper
Beyond His deep and abiding love for me, He had been there with me throughout my entire life. Now that I know Him better, I can recognize the moments He was with me in my past. The moments He stood by me when I thought I was alone. The moments He comforted me. The moments He leaned in to whisper something kind to a daughter who didn’t know the kindness of a father.
Though I didn’t know Him or even understand who He was, He stayed with me still. Before I ever accepted Him, He’d already had a place for me in His heart. A heart that loved me so dearly, and loves you the same, that He couldn’t fathom not doing everything possible to make sure that we would have a relationship with one another. Though I may not have noticed Him earlier, He witnessed every day, every heartache, every joy, every single moment of my life. He knew me at my best. And He knew me at my worst.
And like a loving Father does for the daughter He cherishes, He chooses a front-row seat through it all.