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Kia Stephens


January 4, 2015

Why I Made the Father Swap

January 4, 2015 | By | 44 Comments

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.

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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.  


Why I Made the Father Swap Meme

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.


  1. Wonderful post, thank you for your transparency! You are certainly not alone in this need for a ‘father swap’, and I’ve no doubt the Lord will use your vulnerability to bring healing to many wounded! Be blessed!

  2. I love the heart of this blog post! There are women all over the world who long for what you describe, but don’t know where to begin. I pray that God uses this blog and you to lead them to the love of a Father.

  3. Shohana

    I’ve struggled with this, having my abusive father present (in childhood) and then absent, leaving me with that void. I praise The Lord for making His presence known to me. Once I realized that He is my father and He is always with me and will never forsake me, that void was filled. Back in August I was able to see my dad after 10 years with a heart of love and forgiveness. Accepting his flaws and being able to pray for his lost soul, while knowing that my eternal Father is always right beside me although my earthly father isn’t. No earthly father or man in this world, Only God can fill those voids and heal the wounds! Thank you Lord my Father!

    • Shohana, what an amazing testimony. It substantiates Psalms 27:10 “When my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” He has done that for you and I am inspired by the love you now have for your father. Thank you for sharing and may your story encourage many more women.

  4. Shohana

    Thank you for sharing this! It truly is an evolving Journey! I look forward to reading more or your posts!

    • Shohana it has definitely been a journey, one that I am still on. Thank you for joining me and sharing how the blog post impact you.

  5. Beautiful message – I can so relate – I had a good father but he wasn’t one to show love or guidance. I remember longing to be close to him and be his little girl. I grew up longing for that love that I never quite received – so that drove me to my heavenly father. As a teenager I would go to my old faded green living bible to feel peace. I knew he felt my longing – and he started filling me in ways that are hard to explain. Thank you for sharing. I think it connects a lot of dots for me!

    • Melanie, thank you for sharing how this blog post impacted you. It is truly amazing to know we have a heavenly Father that is capable of filling those voids in our soul!

  6. Kathryn

    OH, does this speak to me!! How many times did I pray “Oh, God — please make me pretty, so Daddy would like me” or yearn, yearn to be “worthy” of his notice, his time, his affection?
    And how often (constantly) did I feel that SINKING of my heart, because I was so ‘obviously’ not worthy of that notice/time/affection? Learning, later on in life, that Narcissists aren’t fully capable of those things did little to heal the wounds. I am so grateful for the FATHER who Is fully capable. Thank you for offering the Father Swap. ~K~

    • Kathryn I think one of my greatest revelations was that in all my searching for someone to validate me, God our Father was there all along. Rest in knowing you are so beautiful, precious, valued and overwhelmingly loved by God. Thank you for sharing candidly.

  7. Shohana

    Kia, dealing with some hurt again after attempting to contact my dad. I call or text, and he doesn’t respond. For over a decade, I have reached out to have a relationship with him, and he doesn’t meet me halfway. I have dealt with this pain and rejection for years. I sought God to heal my pain and He has. However after today, it’s come back again. The hurt, pain, and rejection. I’ve been praying all day for the Lord to help me not to be angry with him and instead pray for my dad, to soften his heart. It hurts when you call, and he doesn’t have an interest in talking to you. I have faith God will ease my pain I’m feeling right now. Please pray for me. Your sister in Christ, Shohana

    • Shohana, I want you to know that I am praying for you and you are not alone in having experienced rejection from your father. For reasons you may never know your dad has chosen not to respond to you reaching out to him. This has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with your dad. It is not your fault and it does not say anything about your value. You are valuable and worth getting to know and love. I recognize that this is deeply painful and I want you to know I am weeping with you. Please know it is okay for you to grieve this painful loss. In your grieving know that God may seem distant but He is right there with you. He is concerned about your feelings of disappointment and rejection. He does not reject you and He loves you immensely. In your grief, I want to encourage you to continue to communicate with God. Allow his words, through the scriptures, to encourage you and renew your mind. This healing journey is such a process. It took me years to get to the place where the love of God was enough for me. His love has enabled me to interact with my dad and not expect anything in return. This is difficult but possible in Christ. This process is delicate and quite honestly I’ve had to seek counseling from others to help me. It may be that you take some more time to heal before reaching out to your father again. In the meantime know that I will continue to pray for you and your complete healing. BE ENCOURGED Shohana!

  8. Shohana

    Ps. Thank you for this blog. It’s a place I can come where I know I’m not alone in dealing with this difficult journey.

    • I’m so glad that this blog is an encouragement to you. I will be praying for you!

  9. Kia,
    I had a lovely example of God through my earthly father. It still took me a long time to say yes to Jesus being Lord of my life but from the start I knew that God loved me. But I know women who struggle with understanding a loving Father. This is an excellent post.
    Continue to write words of encouragement.
    Would you consider linking your posts to Sunday Stillness?
    Janis recently posted…Sunday Stillness – Are you working or dreaming? – An Ant LessonMy Profile

    • Janis, it is difficult to grasp the love of a heavenly father when you lacked the love of an earthly dad, but it is possible. This is a truth I am learning everyday, and one that I hope the women in your circle will embrace. Thanks for visiting and I would love to link up with Sunday Stillness. Be blessed! – Kia

  10. Hey Kia! This is interesting—it’s what I’ve done for years, but never had a name for it. 🙂 God impressed on my heart years ago that HE would be my Daddy, and I’ve looked to Him for those feelings that I need that can only come from a dad. My dad was around when I was little, but then disappeared for 8 years and entered my life again when I was 15. He didn’t really want to be my dad, but rather, my friend, but that’s not what I needed so we never jived much. He died when I was 30, and I hate to say this, but it was a relief that I didn’t have to worry about the relationship I didn’t have with him anymore. I do have a stepdad who is very loving, but because he came into our lives just before my teen years, and because he was only 21 when that happened, we didn’t make the daddy/daughter connection well enough for me to actually rely on him as a Daddy. I’ve felt fatherless for most of my life, but I know that I have the very best Father there is–God! This knowledge has really brought healing to my life. Thanks for writing this post and reminding me of the fantastic history I have with God in this way. 🙂
    Kristi Stone recently posted…Garden Bed CompostingMy Profile

    • Kristi, I thank you for sharing your very difficult truth with me. I ache for the pain and loss you experienced as a result of your relationship, or lack their of with your dad. I pray that God would give you tangible reminders of His presence and love if you should ever feel a tinge of sadness. Even the most perfect fathers do not compare to God He truly is the best dad we could have. Thanks for joining the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  11. Powerful post, found you through the Living Proverbs 31 link-up and I’m so glad I did. The absent father wounds are a challenge to overcome, its good to see I’m not alone in the journey. Thank you for encouraging me this morning. 🙂
    Anastasia recently posted…Psalm 119 Study: Praise God.My Profile

    • Anastasia, no you are not alone. I have had so many women to read out to me sharing their own personal struggle with the subject of father. There are many women working through their own stories just as you and I are. I am so glad you joined the conversation today. Know that I am praying for you. Be blessed! – Kia

  12. What a great post, especially this quote, “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.” I believe that is true for any loss or gaping hole we have in our lives…many blessings to you!
    beth willis miller recently posted…right now…interceding for usMy Profile

    • You are right Beth and I wish there was a succinct take-two-pills-and-call-me-in-the-morning-answer, but there is not. The great news is He responds with overwhelming love. Glad you joined the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  13. I love this message! And I think it also applies to anyone who has/had a lacking relationship with their mother, or a damaging relationship with a friend…or just any relationship period. We often expect (hope) that our earthly relationships will fill us up. That they will make us feel whole. The truth is, only God can do that. We often make a mess of things by scrambling to fill that void with easy fixes, but at the end of the day, we’ll still have voids even IF our relationships with people are all great. Because we were designed to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. And if we aren’t living with that at the forefront, then there will be things lacking, and there will be gaps and voids.

    • Ashley, you articulated this point so well. I wish I could say I learned this the easy way but I did not. I have literally been a leech trying to get my needs met from others. Thank goodness for the truth you so succinctly articulated in your word. Only God can fill us. Thanks for joining the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  14. Beautiful! Whether you have a father or not, the love our our Father God is so much more than any human can provide.
    Kathryn Shirey recently posted…The Truth About Stepping Forward in FaithMy Profile

    • Kathryn, well said, “The love of our Father is so much more than any human.” Glad you joined the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  15. Kia – You tell your story with such a blend of raw honesty and hope-filled encouragement. And it resonates with all of us at some level – learning how to completely trust God. Thank you for sharing your story. It truly blessed me. And I appreciate the honesty here: “This path is a raw, emotional, messy, imperfect and an ever-evolving roller coaster that I would rather be on than not. ”
    Karen Brown recently posted…Bigger and BetterMy Profile

    • I mean that quote with every ounce of my being. There is no turning back. I have chosen to love my dad and embrace my heavenly father no matter what! Karen thank you for you kind words and I’m am so glad you joined the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  16. This post mirrors my life! Thank you for your real story of trusting God as Father! He is such a great daddy! Stopping by from Reflect. i’d love for you to share you story on the link up.
    Jann Cobb recently posted…Joy Thief and Link upMy Profile

    • Jann, I’m really glad you could relate. I would be honored if you shared this post on your link-up. I can’t say enough about how incredible God has been in my life. Thanks for joining the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  17. Great encouragement, Kia – to lean into the only One who can truly fill the voids in our life with hope and promise that is everlasting. Thanks for sharing a slice of your story. #testimonytuesday

    • Tiffany I am glad got something from this post. Discovering the truth that God is the one who can truly fill the voids in my life has been life changing. I absolutely love sharing this portion of my life with you. So glad you visited today. Be blessed! – Kia

  18. What a great message! Through your words I can hear that God our Father is healing your heart! God Bless you and your ministry!
    Lisa Morris recently posted…Zealously Pursuing Good Deeds {Study in Titus 3}My Profile

    • Thanks Lisa, truly God has done an incredible healing work in my heart. My life has been changed. Thanks for joining the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  19. I find this post absolutely heartbreaking. While I rejoice in your love for Jesus Christ, that relationship is not the same as a relationship with your father…as it would not be the same as a relationship with your mother. Father’s are so marginalized in these times, it’s heartbreaking. We have a difficult time with the mother of my step-sons as she does everything in her power to limit the time the boys are allowed to spend with their dad or any member of his family. They rarely get to see their grandparents or their cousins and yet they spend time almost every day with her family. She teaches them that their father and his family are not as important in their lives as she is. It is my firm belief that Jesus himself would call this type of behavior sin of the worst kind. To be sure, I am not saying that this is true in your instance. Of course, there are absent or bad fathers just as there are absent or bad mothers….and I am sorry that your father wasn’t there for you and happy that you have found what you needed in Jesus Christ. However, Christ can never take the place of a real father in a child’s life and vice versa.

    • Dear Reader,

      I could not agree with you more regarding the role a father plays in the life of his child. It is absolutely vital and necessary. It is truly unfortunate what your husband has endured from the mother of his sons. I also agree that we need to affirm the men in our lives who are trying to be better fathers. Unfortunately not all men and women grow up with this type of father. In fact according to the National Fatherhood Initiative 24 million children grow up without a biological father in the home. This does not include homes where the father is present but abusive, alcoholic, or emotionally present but physically absent. For individuals with this type of a relationship or lack there of with a father it can be extraordinarily painful. My blog is for those individuals who have been going through life with a father ache. In God’s word over and over again He affirms His role in the lives of believers as a father. Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Psalms 68:5 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 27:10 “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”There are so many more scriptures in the Bible where God is referred to as our Father. Even if we had a perfect earthly Father it does not compare to knowing God as our heavenly father. I believe that for men and women who did not experience the love and affirmation of their biological dad God is able to heal the voids that formed as a result. I am a living witness to that truth. To say that a relationship Christ can never take the place of a real father in a child’s life is to leave a whole generation of men and women hopeless and hurting. I am of the belief that God does more For men and women that take the place of an absentee earthly dad. A relationship with God as our Father is much better than that because where as our earthly fathers are imperfect God is perfect in every way, thereby making Him the perfect Father.

  20. Thanks so much for writing about this topic, Kia! It’s something I’ve wrestled with my whole life. Day to day, it’s not usually something I dwell on but like you said, sometimes it just comes up. I’ve cried through just about every father’s day sermon I’v ever heard, even as an adult. I’m so thankful for the infinite love of my heavenly Father! God bless you!
    Alyssa Thys recently posted…Pax Turns 6 Months Old!My Profile

    • Alyssa, the beauty in your tears is that you are allowing yourself to feel. So many women shut themselves off from their painful emotions. I am so thankful that God can take our tears of sorrow and turn them into tears of joy. Be encouraged Alyssa and know that I am praying for you. – Kia

  21. Thank you so very much for allowing God to use you to bless others through this post. I feel this same way. God is the only Father I have ever needed and I am so thankful for His presence in my life. Visiting you from Titus 2sday link up.

    • My pleasure Mandy. You are so blessed to know the great love of our Father. I hope this truth will be known by every woman. Thanks for joining the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  22. Such a heartfelt message and remembering my father through this post.
    Michelle recently posted…Party at My Place Linkup 27My Profile

    • Thanks Michelle. This post is the heart behind this blog and it is intended for women with all types of father daughter relationships. I’m glad it impacted you. Thanks for joining the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

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