Why I Made the Father Swap
Swapping your father sounds bad, but have you ever wanted to – secretly? Maybe not a permanent swap, but a momentary one for times when your daddy wounded you. Maybe you just wanted to switch out one of his undesirable characteristics – thus making him more tender, attentive, or present. If your answer is yes, you are not alone; I have been guilty of thinking life would be better if my father was different.
These thoughts were stored in a mental silo until they were unexpectedly forced to the forefront by seven simple words. “I made that bookshelf with my dad.” a friend said as I sat in her college dorm room. Minutes later the words “with my dad” continued to bounce off the walls of my brain signaling I was not okay with the absence of my father.
As I left her room, my eyelids bulged like dam walls holding back a great flood. My concept of father had been limited to a few court-ordered visitations, gifts left on the front porch of my grandparent’s house, and Heathcliff Huxtable. But I craved what she had – a relationship.
That freshmen year experience sent me on a more than decade long quest to heal my daddy wounds. I read self-help books, got counseling, watched podcast and broadcast trying to mend my broken heart. They were helpful – but the pain (and the coping mechanisms) lingered for years.
Then one day I read, “When my father . . .forsake(s) me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalms 27: 10 (KJV) It was like God said I am concerned about this issue in your life. I felt encouraged – for a few days. But, eventually, my momentary faith plummeted into a bottomless pit of doubt.
How could God – who I can not see, audibly hear, or touch – father me?
Can He call me when I’m down?
Can He send me flowers?
Can He take me on a daddy daughter date?
How can He heal the gaping wound in my soul?
I was afraid trusting God would leave me disappointed – again. The lie I believed was God would be just like my father had been growing up, absent.
But after years of searching for something to soothe my ache I concluded there was no substance or substitute capable of filling the void of a fatherless daughter. No man, accomplishment, act, position, or self-help book was powerful enough to heal that void. I had no viable alternatives so I decided to try God – one more time – and make what I call, the father swap.
I abandoned every uncommunicated and unrealistic expectation I had created for my dad. Instead of looking to him to meet my childhood and adult needs I learned to communicate them to God in prayer. “I am hurting. I feel afraid. I am angry. I need affirmation. ”
And then I waited for His response.
The waiting place has always been the pinnacle of my struggle. It is here that I am tempted to reach for the easy access stand-ins to bring relief. But I needed more than a makeshift daddy substitute; I needed God.
As I leaned in His direction via Bible reading, prayer, tears, counseling, messages and even more tears, God leaned back with amazing experiences, unexplainable peace and I realized a life changing truth.
This path is a raw, emotional, messy, imperfect and an ever-evolving roller coaster that I would rather be on than not. The Father Swap is not a 12 step program. There is no timetable or definitive end point; it is more of a life-long road trip.
Which brings me to my point; I want you to get in the car and join me! Whether your dad is deceased, absent, divorced, unavailable, incarcerated, or you don’t know who he is; you are a candidate for the father swap.
This blog is a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each post has been intentionally designed with you (and me) in mind. Every week I will tackle issues specific to challenges faced by fatherless daughters. If that is you, know that there is hope. Despite the type of biological dad you have, together, we can learn to embrace the love of our heavenly father.