My dad has two sides: all-fun, and all-business.
He can make the smallest child feel comfortable and safe, or terrify the boy waiting to pick me up for prom. As a dad, he spoke words of life and challenge, teaching me to believe in myself and giving me the confidence I needed to be a level-headed adult. He is passionate about good hot-wings and growing beautiful flowers in his backyard. He gave me childhood memories of late-night bike rides to 7-11 for Slurpees and dinners out for Chinese buffet.
He is my protector, my biggest cheerleader, and the best song-maker-upper.
He’s MY dad, and God gave him to me for a reason.
But, when we are small, innocent little beings, we don’t understand things like bills and work and responsibility…
“I am busy working. Please go play with your brother.”
“Honey, this is work. I have to be on the computer as part of my job. We will go swimming later.”
The impatient shrug-off.
The sideways glance to acknowledge my presence, his attention always halfway fixed on the screen in front of him. Dad’s work (and often times, games) took HOURS on a computer, in the glow of the screen ’til late at night.
I hated that screen.
That constant vigil of care and fixation on the computer hurt my heart as a child.
I equated my dad “working” with my dad not “caring.” I carried this pain into high school, refusing to learn more about technology than was required by my one computer class I needed to graduate. I brought this pain into my marriage, losing my cool anytime my husband took too long to look up something online or play a video game ’til late at night. It took a lot of work to move past the years of hurt and neglect caused by that computer.
What about you? What did your dad do that injured your heart? What words did he say that shaped the way you view yourself? What didn’t he say that he should have?
Maybe your dad hurt you more than simply ignoring you. Maybe he did some deeply hurtful, shameful things that will forever be with you. Your “Before” may be broken and dark, in more ways than one. Rest assured that God can redeem that past, that hurt, that relationship. He can take your Before and change it into an After. Even if your dad isn’t a Christ-follower or won’t even speak to you. Even if he has already passed from this life. God can make your role as a daughter NEW.
You can forgive.
You can heal.
No matter the past, God can create a better future.
Your ugly Before can become a beautiful After.
Fast forward to today and you will see my dad and I are very close. When I told my him about the vision God gave me to start this blog, he was on-board immediately as-
you guessed it-
the designer and creator of my website.
It’s pretty awesome that God can take the very thing that hurt me as a child and use it to catapult my dreams in adulthood.
My dad was selfless enough to use the knowledge he gleaned from his life experience with computers to help me follow my calling. He invested HOURS upon HOURS building this site, tweaking details, and answering all my questions. He changed picture resolution, researched fonts, and probably learned more about Pinterest than he cares to admit to any man…
He has helped make my dream a real, living-and-breathing ministry.
Don’t you love God’s purpose in righting a wrong?
Don’t you LOVE that God has transformed our relationship from a Before into an After?
What once built a wall in our father-daughter bond years ago, has been transformed into something that now connects us from states away!
I can see it now, standing in the After.
You? Maybe not-so-much.
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare;
before they spring into being I announce them to you.
All I can tell you is God is in the business of renewing things.
Our life was once one way, now it is another. Before, your relationship with your dad was one way; After, another. Dads are not perfect, and neither are we. But Daughters, we can be perfected. The pain caused by your father is not without hope. Your After is on the horizon…
God can see it.
Chris Preston says
Wow! Another fantastic blog. I think one of the neatest things about you having such a great relationship with your Dad now is that he has become such an amazing grandfather to your beautiful children. I just love seeing all the pictures on FB. And what a big, loving your heart your Dad has to allow you to share this blog. God is good!
Erica Willis says
Thanks, Chris! He is pretty amazing. I hope someday I can handle my mistakes parenting as graciously as he has! Parenting is a crazy hard job and no one is perfect- it is how we redeem our mistakes that matters most!
I experienced an ignoring father. At least I felt that way. He worked long, hard hours for his job out in the field as a cable repairman. Many late nights on-call if a line was down. I know he worked hard, but wanted some sort of attention from him and longed for a closeness which never came to fruition while I lived at home. It led me on a journey seeking approval from me, something I still struggle with at times. After I had my first child, I saw something change in him – holding my baby. Loving on her, caring for her and even changing diapers. Now, three children later, he is the most amazing grandpa. Taking the girls to the farm for walks. Rides on the three wheeler around his property. Buys all the Disney DVDs and watches them with the girls. Picks them up from school for weekend visits. He is now the loving, kind, gentle soul as a grandpa that I had longed for that he would have been as a father to me as a child. I have cherished watching God mold him into a loving grandpa. I think he realizes how much he missed out on when me and my siblings were young. It has helped me heal those old wounds of neglect, watching him love on my girls.
Erica Willis says
I love this, Gretchen! Isn’t it amazing how God can heal our past, even when it isn’t directly at us? You experienced it through his role as a grandfather. It shows we are never too far for God to reach and heal.
That is so true, Erica. It’s never too late for God to do something amazing to touch our lives. Thanks be to God!
Erica Willis says
God can do ANYTHING in our lives. We just have to as Him to 🙂