The following is my story, and my thoughts - they are mine to tell. It is a story of hope. Please be careful with how you use this story. It is my own journey - please don’t expect others who are also on this journey to be the same.
In the same way that this is my own journey and response, others with a similar story to tell will have a different journey and a different response - one that is between them and God alone. By all means, share this blog with them in the hope of encouraging them. But please do so sensitively, taking care of what can be raw and real hurt, allowing God to take them on their own journey of healing.
It's Father's Day.
Fathers day, for me, is always tinged with many thoughts and emotions. I’ve had three earthly dads…. I only knew one of them, and that wasn’t the most easy of relationships!
Often I look at dads with their daughters and I feel a twinge of regret that I never had that relationship, and a sadness that I will never know it. I also have the sadness that as someone who is childless, I will never be able to make sure my own daughter doesn’t miss out on a father daughter relationship.
My first dad - my birth dad, doesn’t know me - he doesn’t want to know me either. I was born as a result of child abuse that happened in a little church in Essex. He has a family that doesn’t know I exist. He is named on my original birth certificate, and that’s it.
My second dad was a short term foster dad.
Having been born in a mother and baby unit in the south (My birth mum was sent there to have me and told to have me adopted) I was sent to a couple to be privately fostered before being adopted. This was due to having a difficult birth etc, and I needed extra TLC before being sent for adoption. I had to be removed from this household in a hurry - I don’t know all the horrible details, just snatches. I have a sense that God is telling me I don’t need or want to know and to leave it with him. With this, I am quite content.
Then there was my adoptive dad. As I have said, this wasn’t the easiest of relationships, and many of the details why don’t need to be written here. He was never a responsive dad, he didn’t talk to me….. He was just there. So, I could never ask him ‘Why?’ And yet, on the day he died, God was gracious. Again, we didn’t say much. But in a nano second and one look, a thousand and one words were said. The only words spoken out loud were mine: “God knows and understands dad - He will tell you my thoughts, and He will speak to me what you couldn’t say”. Many years ago, someone had given me what some call “a word”. Now I’m not really into that sort of thing, but this has stuck with me. It was given by a person who didn’t know me or my situation. They told me that what had happened to me to me was wrong, that those responsible would never be able to ask forgiveness, but the holy Spirit was asking instead. As a result of that ‘word’ over 15 years prior to dad’s death, my journey of forgiveness had already begun.
So with all of this - how do I view God? How can I see Him as Father when I’ve never known a true father/child relationship?
Well, again, God has been gracious. I have never doubted God’s ‘Father relationship’ with me. I’ve seen what Fathers should be and been enveloped into families by good friends. I’m told this is rare - so I am doubly grateful!
Many Christians say to forgive and forget, and if I haven't forgotten, then I haven't forgiven. In love, I would like to say..... that is total rubbish! I have forgiven, but why the need to forget? If the hurt causes you to build a wall around you, or affects your view of Father God, then there is a reason to deal with the grief of what happened and the loss of what should have been. But to forget would be to deny who I have been shaped to be. To forget means I cannot go to a friend who is struggling with similar issues and say “I’ve been there”.
To forget would also mean the following:
With my birth father: I don’t want to forget how God has redeemed such an awful situation. I’m not denying the pain of my birth mum here, but in that baby - me, conceived in such horrific circumstances, has come grace and beauty, a person with meaning in the world - a child of God.
With the circumstances surrounding my foster father, I can see healing power. I don’t see the need to blame - and blame could be laid at the feet of many on this! I see again, a powerful story of redemption. I know of a Godly matron in that mother and baby care home who nursed me back to health and undoubtedly prayed for me. This comes across in the letters written by her in my adoption notes. I would love to be able to thank her and show her how God answered her prayers! This, I don't want to forget. (Even though I was only a baby, I used to get overwhelming flash backs to the emotions of that time - these I am happy to forget!)
With my adoptive dad…. I am content. That’s it - at peace, and content. Mum often tells me he was proud of me but didn’t know how to say it. Despite other circumstances that she is aware of, she maintains that he loved me - and he probably did. Two days before he died he declared to a friend that he “understood what Jesus did and believed it”. In that small phrase comes hope. Hope of forgiveness for him. Hope of a relationship that is all it should be when we meet again in Heaven.
As I’ve said - this is my story, unique to me. I hope it helps others, but I don’t expect their journey to be the same. I am thankful for my Father God being all my earthly fathers could not be. I am thankful for his comfort through some very difficult times, and I am especially thankful that I came out of it relatively sane! (Apparently quite unusual!)
May you know the love of Father God today. May He bring you comfort if father’s day only brings hurt. And may you find peace in the journey back to hope.
NB: I feel the need to add a child protection note here - to forget can be dangerous too, especially if it forces you to come into contact with someone who could continue to abuse you. As Christians, we believe in forgiveness and redemption, but when in comes to abuse - we need to be ‘real’ and sensitive too. To tell a survivor of abuse to forgive and forget is abuse in it’s own right. It’s better to get advice from experts in this field and save heaping even more guilt on the heads of those who have suffered enough already.