I was nervous. I hadn’t seen him since I was nine, and here I was waiting for his arrival.
“What would he expect me to be? Can I be myself with him? Is this going to be awkward?” Questions zipped through my mind as I waited for my dad to come.
As a child, I was well acquainted with family tension. Since my birth, my parents had several serious marital problems. Those problems led to frequent quarrels and fights. One of the most traumatic fights I witnessed was a late-night quarrel which led to my mother sitting on the edge of the window contemplating whether to jump. As a five-year-old kid, I could barely understand the circumstances my family was in. In my confusion, the only thing I knew for certain was that my parents were struggling in their marriage and my family seemed unstable, painful, and messy.
Things got messier when my parents were in the process of filing for a divorce. I started to see my dad a lot less. My mum moved out for a period and most days I had to choose, “Do I want to live with Mummy or Daddy today?” It seemed like I always had to choose one or the other, but I couldn’t have both. What was normal for most children became a privilege for me—to be under the same roof as my mum and dad. Family gatherings were chaotic and maintaining a relationship with my dad felt like a feat. Time always seemed to run out fast whenever I got to see him for a few hours.
By age six, my parents had officially split. Their separation also meant a separation between my dad and me. We kept in contact for a year after the divorce, but soon our relationship became distant and separation became the status quo. I adapted to my ‘new’ life without my dad. My mum and I built a strong relationship with each other, but at the back of my mind, I still thought of my dad. I understood that he might not have been a great husband, but he was still my dad. And so, in the years of silence that followed, I always yearned to meet him again. The thought of not knowing where in the world my dad was or how he was doing sometimes frightened me, but since none of my other family members were reaching out to him, I went with the flow and did likewise.
IS HE A GOOD FATHER?
A few years ago, the Lord started to lead my church in the direction of knowing God as our Father. It was also a season in which I realised that I struggled with God being a good Father. We sang Good Good Father in worship a lot, and whenever we came to the bridge, “You are perfect in all of your ways to us,” I would doubt this truth. I questioned God in my heart: “If You are such a perfect Father, why is my family like this?”
WHAT WAS NORMAL FOR MOST CHILDREN BECAME A PRIVILEGE FOR ME — TO BE UNDER THE SAME ROOF AS MY MUM AND DAD.
Somehow, by God’s grace, I kept my heart tender. I allowed these questions to draw me closer to God instead of pushing me away from Him. I shared my feelings with my leaders and I wanted to know the Lord as my Father. I became very intentional in discovering God as my good Father.
The breakthrough came in a prayer house, where I responded to an invitation to know God as a Father. In my time of response, the Lord brought back significant scenes of my past as a child and helped me see that even in my mother’s womb, I was safe. Before I drew my first breath as a baby, God was already fathering me. I felt the stability and protection of my Father in heaven. The fact is that earthly fathers fail. Because of that, my parents’ marriage failed and our family was broken apart. However, our heavenly Father doesn’t fail.
Of course, the response song turned out to be Good Good Father. This time, when the bridge came, what used to be a line I sang with great apprehension and doubt could be sung with conviction!
THE FIRST HELLO
As I began to grow in relationship with my heavenly Father, He started to grow a desire in my heart for reconciliation with my earthly father. I had so many questions about when the right time would be, how he would respond, and, most importantly, what my family would think. Would my mum think I was betraying her by reaching out to my dad who had hurt her so deeply? Would my brother be upset with me? It was a huge step out of my comfort zone and it was one that I wasn’t sure I could take by my own strength.
One day after church, I had this prompting to reach out to my biological dad again. I was fearful and uncertain if reconciliation could happen, but I decided that I was going to text him in that moment. But who could have predicted what happened next? My dad beat me to it! When I took my phone out of my bag, I saw a message from him that said, “Nicole, how are you?”
The first hello after all those years was the start of a journey and not the final destination. I don’t think we could have got to this stage if God hadn’t been working to restore the relationship. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my father again and during this period, I’ve discovered that God had been working to heal my father, lead him to repentance, and empower him to live out God’s calling. I’ve witnessed God’s grace and mercy in restoring my dad, a man who made many mistakes in marriage. I see that God is not done with him and has many plans to continue reconciling my dad to Himself — my dad is God’s son and his Father is also restoring his identity as God’s child.
I QUESTIONED GOD IN MY HEART: “IF YOU ARE SUCH A PERFECT FATHER, WHY IS MY FAMILY LIKE THIS? ”
Till this day, God continues to restore my relationship with my father, bit by bit. I feel like I am rediscovering my father and myself. Most days when I return home from “dates” with my dad, I am in happy tears because I feel so loved by my Heavenly Father and my earthly father. Above all, I stand in awe of God, who knows me and how to love me. He knew the right moment to restore my belief in Him as a good Father and the right moment to bring my biological dad back into my life. He has taken me by the hand, captured my heart, and healed me. I am so assured by the fact that true reconciliation starts, progresses, and ends in our Father’s love, not by my effort, but God’s alone.