Daddy Baggage

Writing about my father isn’t new. Talking about a fatherless life and the negative and positive impacts it’s had on my life, also isn’t new. But after a day of scrolling through various social media accounts, reading stories attached to dorky photos of dads and their daughters, my heart is feeling both a little raw and a little introspective. 

Father’s Day holds mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I greatly appreciate it because fathers, good father’s, should be celebrated. I think their role isn’t always recognized with the importance it should be. But on the other hand, it’s a hard day for me. It brings my “daddy baggage” front and center. It’s a reminder of a relationship that I’ve will never experience. A reminder that even if I have the most amazing mother in the world, there’s still a part of me that feels like something is missing.

If you had asked me what I wanted when I was growing up, I probably would have told you I wanted a father. It was my birthday wish and early attempts at matchmaking my mom to the potential single dad’s from my elementary school. Attempts that always failed because my mother was never in need of anyone and the men I “picked”….well, to seven year old me, they seemed wonderful, but in reality, not so much.

Still, I remember wishing for a dad for years. It was never motivated by jealously or because I was lacking from love or attention (my mom was somehow two parents in one and did it in such an effortless way, that still amazes me to this day). But watching little girls and their fathers always made me feel like I was missing out on something. Something that I longed for from my own father. Or at least, a father-like figure. Because even as a little girl, I recongized that my father was someone that would never be like those other dads. He was never going to be a good father, let alone a good man. 

So I created an “ideal daddy” in my head.

My fantasy father was many things. He’d want me, first of all. And he would be a good man; not an alcoholic that was prone to selfishness and violent behavior. I would know my worth because he found me worthy. He would be my greatest playmate and partner in adventure. And when I grew older, he would carry my burdens and comfort me when boys broke my heart, even as he reassured me of my beauty and value. He would be caring and kind. Funny and serious. And he would always give the best hugs.

In a perfect world, I could have had this. If my father wasn’t the man that he was, a version of this could have existed in my life. But life isn’t perfect and things that have the power to cause pain, happen.  

But eventually, the hurt becomes less sharp. And the longing becomes more of a dull ache.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped using my birthday wishes for a father. I stopped thinking that the only thing that could make my life “complete” was a father. And to my mother’s (probably) eternal gratitude, I stopped trying to pair her with my friend’s dad’s. I began to feel more at peace with the reality of my life. I accepted it, and I embraced it. The pain was still there, but it was manageable now.

I think I should say, there’s no permanent fix to growing up fatherless. There’s nothing that can ever really fill the space where a father should fit. As wonderful as my mother is, as much as she gave of herself and was all those things listed above and more, she still isn’t a father. And for as much as God has been, and continues to be, my Heavenly Father, he still isn’t able to physically wrap me in his arms in a hug that I still, many times, desperately crave.

But God has brought so much healing in my life for this. I have examples of wonderful fathers in my life, who have brought me joy in knowing that good father’s can, and do exist. He’s given me a sense of purpose in my fatherlessness; a desire to cherish and love those who feel like they’re lacking in worth or value. And He continues to be a patient, loving Father  to me, despite my many mistakes and shortcomings.

But like I said above, this day always brings along a sense of bittersweetness. And for a few moments, that dull ache becomes just a bit more biting. And that small girl in me who spent years wishing for a father, flares up a little, making that longing a little more fierce than it was yesterday. 

My baggage is still there. I’m still the girl who is sometimes labeled with “daddy issues”. And my longing never fully goes away. But God is good and uses my brokenness for good things. He surrounds me with love from himself and others. And every year, I feel like he heals more and more of those tender, raw parts of me. And I rejoice in what he is doing.

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Hello My Name is Inadequate

I have a nasty habit of comparing myself to others. I wish I didn’t but sometimes it can’t be helped. Okay, more like all the time. But in my defense, it’s hard to resist the lure of comparison, especially when social media is so easily accessible. For instance, Instagram is one of my favorite apps and I could spend hours on it looking through photos, getting ideas and mainly obsessing over the beauty of the PNW. Usually it’s my way of unwinding after a long day but lately, I’ve found that I’ve begun comparing myself to the seemingly endless photos I see of perfect women on Instagram. More specifically, the perfect Christian women of instagram.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones with the fashionable hipster outfits and perfect bodies. The ones who can take a selfie and caption it with a bible verse and NOT come off ironically. The ones who always seem to find those special walls with amazing murals to pose in front of (okay real talk: where are these, how do I find them, please help me out here). They’re perfect.

And looking at them kind of makes me want to scream. Not at them but at myself.

Here I am, at almost 25, living in a place that I don’t love, working at a job that while I’m grateful for, sort of makes me lie down on my floor and scream from the stress of it. I’m basically doing the exact opposite of everything I thought I would be doing in my twenties.

I don’t have a killer squad of women that I can strategically pose with against a brick wall and gush about their beautiful hearts for Christ. I don’t have that smile that’s always the perfect mix of spontaneous and posed in every photo. I don’t have what these women have. And if these are the women who are representing the image of Christianity, does that mean I’m doing everything wrong?

If I let myself, I could spend hours questioning how they do it. How are their poses always so good? How do they have all these friends? And most importantly, how are their relationships with God always so strong? They make it look effortless and I’m not sure how.

Because dear ones, I am a mess.

I mean, my hair is literally ALWAYS a mess. My eyeliner is never even. I wear leggings 5 days out 7 and I’m as awkward as they come. I’m in a constant struggle between choosing joy or letting cynicism overtake me. My relationship with God can seem like an uphill battle at points. Every day is a fight for contentment. And most days, it’s a fight I lose.

Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not at all a slight towards these women. It’s not really about them at all. This is all about me and my insecurities.

Because there is no such thing as a “perfect Christian woman”. There’s an image of it and then there’s the reality. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect. Not even the girls I’m talking about are. We’re all a mess, though some of us are better hiding our mess than others.

All I know is that if I continue to spend my life comparing it to others, I’ll never be able to remove myself from a feeling of inadequacy.

And I don’t want to waste my life on comparisons.

I’m not really sure how to let go of comparing myself to others. Do I spend less time on soctal media and instagram?  Do I look deep inside myself to find my own sense of worth and confidence?

Maybe. I think those are all good starts.

But I think the only way I’ll ever truly let go of comparison is if I find contentment in the life I currently have.

And like I said above, that is not easy.

I tell myself daily to be present where I am. But in the back of mind, the longing for a different life never fully leaves. While it’s not a bad thing for me to hold onto dreams to I hope to accomplish, the hold I have on them is so tight that it gets in the way of finding joy in my everyday.

Contentment is a fight. A daily one. And if it can’t be found, at least not at the moment, in the life I have, it needs to be found in God.

My contentment needs to be found in Christ. My feelings of inaquacy need to be laid down at His feet. And once they are, I know that’s the only way I can let go of comparison and find rest in Him.