To The Teenage Girl With The MIA Dad

 

Last night I saw you in your element, you were on fire and doing what you love. You killed it. Everyone clapped, but our row clapped the loudest. I’m sure there were other proud people, whose chest swelled with pride, but somehow ours felt the fullest. Maybe it was a little bit of pride. Maybe it was a mixture of awe remembering the younger version of you and thinking, “Just look at you. When did you become a woman?”

I watched your people flock around you in support and happiness and not one time did I think about what you were missing. Not once. I thought about all you had, and that you were a young woman surrounded.

This world labels girls like us saying we are a statistic and will turn out certain ways because of divorce, abuse, the fatherless gap, and every other label that says, “Fragile and handle with care because she didn’t come from the white picket fence neighborhood.” Maybe we didn’t get a pink pony for our birthday and we had to shop at Wal-Mart when it wasn’t cool. We know the value of hard work because we’ve watched our mothers and that’s way better than a pony ride.

Statistics say respecting those in authority over us is hard, almost impossible. And, that we are the most untrusting of men, even man haters, but it’s not true. So don’t listen to numbers on paper telling you that you will be marred and three paces behind those with happy, perfect families. We both have happy families; they just look a little different. If you really want to know the truth, every family is a tiny bit dysfunctional. True story.

Broken families only break once, everything after that is just maintenance. You gather some pieces here and some there, and you find your story in the mess of it all. You become stronger, maybe it’s because you have to be. Maybe it’s because you run to God and tell him everything and His love and grace covers the bruised places on our hearts when others walk out.

Mad girls say, “You can’t trust a man.” But, don’t listen to them. There are still good men out there, I know this because I saw two of them standing next to you looking like a mixture of proud papa and part bodyguard.

This world says you will have “Daddy issues.” Well, okay, maybe. But, I’m not buying it. Because what if you just have issues with your daddy and later you work through all of that because that’s what God-fearing, smart girls do. You’re kind of an overachiever so I’m not worried. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, God does and most of the time he asks for us to take an active role in the healing process. A prayer journal, an ugly letter that you never send, a counseling session where you hide the truth for a little while until you’re brave enough to take small steps that look a lot like moving on.

You will have problems, not patterns like what you’ve seen in the one who is MIA, the kind of patterns that just spiral downward and never stop.

Years ago I heard someone say this young woman I knew would always be limited by the divorce of her parents. I said nothing, but shouted inside for girls like you and me. What if we are not limited at all, but more equipped? More sensitive and able to see through words and plastic smiles to see pain and feel brave enough to do something about it. We are well equipped for this messy world filled with messy people. Of course, having a whole family was God’s intention but it takes two people to make that decision.

You are not limited at all by what happened, sweetie, you are being launched by it and it’s up to you to decide where your feet will land.

About your fear of marriage…as in having a bad one or that crazy idea we entertained about becoming a nun and then later decided we could never give up lipstick and push up bras.

Can I keep it real? Everyone has to work at marriage, everyone. Even if you are married to the male version of a unicorn who hangs on every word you say – even that gets annoying. Not that I would know, I’m still waiting for that and hoping by the time it happens my man can still hear my soft voice. Having a short season of unhappily ever after is normal for everyone. But, you work through it and you have a happy, peaceful home and marriage…not a death sentence like some make it out to be.

Statistics say you will chase after bad boys and marry the younger version of your Dad. What? Not you, girl. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you act mean to boys like that. Check that off your list of things to worry about. You love Jesus and I’m pretty sure you will listen to him the minute your heart turns towards a man wondering if he could be “the one.” You’ll overanalyze your feelings, asking all sorts of questions. Ask them, you’re allowed.

You will not be behind.

You will not be less than.

You are not destined to be anything that this world, or statistics say. I’ve watched the power of God blow statistics clear out of the water as people shake their heads at me. Like, where did you come from? Is this just one of those success stories? Nope. I was just one tiny girl who always felt big on the inside, especially when I was in the presence of God. I still feel it, you know, big on the inside. Not unbreakable, just the beautiful blend of softness and strength and a healthy dose of crazy every now and then.

You wonder when it will stop hurting, it won’t. You might always be disappointed in the one who went MIA. It does get easier, then harder, then easier. It depends on the date really. You are going to hate Father’s Day. You’ll probably even hate Mother’s Day a little too, mainly because you barely have twenty bucks in the bank so all you can afford is a lame card and you wish you could give her the world and make sure she never cries again. But, the only gift she really wants is to see you kill it in life.

Later you might feel sick inside at calls that were never made and visits you refused to have, maybe you won’t…but I do.

You might always be the girl who wants to fix people. To everyone around you you’re the strong one. Be strong and soft; mix them both together to figure out who you are in Christ.

When I look at you I don’t see what you might be missing, I think of what he is missing.

He’s missing…

That funny thing you just said that made everyone laugh.

The way your blue eyes seem magnetic when you are doing something you really love.

And the way everyone scatters when you get really mad, but then comes back slowly to your side just to see what’s going to come out of your mouth next.

The way you talk and communicate with your hands and facial expression…and say so much even when you say nothing.

Even your silence is worth listening to.

I pray Genesis 50:20 over you, over the lives you will change, entertain, and love. I pray it over your future when memories from the past surface and you have to figure out what to do with it.

Just in case you are wondering, I really don’t think I would have much at all to say if it wasn’t for the ginormous crapstorm I’ve been through. Brokenness has built the very best things inside of me and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for all of it, one day you will be too.

So much love to you,

JR

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Gen 50:20)