Wednesday, October 30

Things to Consider Before You Go, Round 1

When I was a sophomore in college, my dad left me.  He left my mom, but you can't walk out and disappear for months and then say you didn't really leave your children.  He left us behind, too.  Yes, I was basically an adult.  Yes, I lived almost five hours away from home.  I told myself I should be able to handle it.  I did the very best I could with some awesome resources.  I thought I was good and had worked through it enough to not let it affect me.  But that's the thing I have learned:  it leaves a scar, and no matter how much you pretend it doesn't mean anything anymore, it does.  Scars do not just go away.  It creeps up on you, and you find yourself staring hard at the scar sometimes, trying to make sense of a bag of crazy-mixed emotions that pop up out of nowhere.  I know what Paul means when he talks about a thorn in his flesh.  This is a thorn in my flesh.  Thank goodness for the grace of God.

Dads are not supposed to leave, no matter how old you are.  It isn't how it was designed.  A dad's love, while humanly and imperfect, should be constant and secure.  It should be unconditional and forever.  And when it isn't, when it is harsh and unforgiving or guilt-driven and demanding, somewhere in your brain you file away this altered definition of fatherhood.  Father takes on a new meaning.  As a believer, I know that God is my Father.  I have read and learned my entire life what that looks like.  But there is a huge discrepancy between what I know it should be like and what I know my own father to be like.  Most of the time, I can convince my brain of the truth and rejoice that my heavenly father is so much more. I really, really believe it and act on it.   But then there are the dark seasons where I question whether I am lovable, whether I am worth sticking around for, whether I perform well enough to be loved.  Why?  Why do I do this?  Mostly because my default mode is this:

amy + something more = lovable

instead of this:

amy + nothing more = lovable

It seems simple enough, really.  It makes complete sense in light of the gospel and what I know to be true about God.  But it still trips me up more frequently that I care to ever admit.  There are days where I cannot fathom people loving me for no reason at all.  And I am truly blessed to have a handful of people who love me for no reason at all.  And I doubt their love.  And I doubt God's love.  And I find myself in a state of unbelief because sometimes it is just too hard to wrap my head around unconditional love.