Secret Keeper

He looked at my coworker. “Can you do me a favor? Can I borrow her for a minute?”

He took me out of the public eye and asked me to have a seat. He said we needed to talk.

He got down on one knee. I got nervous.

“I want to make a commitment to you.”

The iced lemon cookie he had brought suddenly lost its flavor. “Okay….” I chewed slowly now.

“I want to make a commitment to you that you will never spend Father’s Day alone again.”

I just stared.

“I really missed you Sunday. I wish you had come to our house. I made an extra steak hoping you would come.”

“But you had your own family…”

“No,” he interrupted. “You are my family. I never want you to have to spend Father’s Day alone again, unless you want to. I’m telling you that we want you to spend that day every year with us.”

He pulled out his iPhone. “Nothing can say it better than a song.”

“You wrote a SONG?”

“No.” He chuckles. “But I want you to listen to the words of this song, because it says it better than I can.”

I recognized the album cover. I smiled. I remember the first time I heard that song. I remember when I thought Shane & Shane was a typo. Or a clone. The song was called The One You Need. I had been sitting behind them at the concert and watched him put his arm around his daughter as they sung this song together. I remember feeling immense joy in their relationship. And sadness.

As the song started to play, I cried tears of gratefulness.

Hey, hey, sweet daughter
I’m so glad to be your father
Each day is like a gift from God
Hey, hey, sweet daughter
There’s no music like your lifetime
And your smile is like the rising sun
You know I loved you from the start
So come in close, take my hand,
While Daddy shares his heart

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you’ll need
Sometimes I’m gonna let you down
But there’s Someone that if you just believe
He’ll be your Hero like He’s always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the One you need

No matter what you walk through,
He will always love you
Just the way you are
For there’s nothing in this world
That I want for my baby girl
But to be happy ever after

The story of your life is still untold
I pray the King of all the universe
Will make your heart His home

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you’ll need
Sometimes I’m gonna let you down
But there’s Someone that if you just believe
He’ll be your Hero like He’s always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the One you need

Who will never leave
He’s been there all along
So when you’re ready
You can find True Love

I was a wet mess.

He secured my hand in his. “I’m not trying to take the place of your dad. I never will. But I want to promise you that if you’ll let me, I’ll bridge that gap for you. He may not see your worth or value, but I do. He may not want to spend time with you, but I do. And believe it or not, I need you, too. And we don’t want anything from you. We just want you to come hang out with us. My wife and I love being around you and your squirrel-huntin’ husband.”

We giggled. I cried. He just smiled.

“I don’t know why, but I felt led to do this. And I mean it. As long as I’m around, you don’t have to be alone. I’m sorry that you don’t feel loved by your dad. I’m sure he did the best he could. But I can promise you that I can love you, because I love through Jesus. I’m sorry for the rejection you have felt, but God sees you. He never looks over you and He never disowns you when you mess up. If you’ll let me, I’d love to have the privilege of being Jesus to you.”

For the first time in 27 years, I was able to truly whisper, Thank You. I had, many times before that, but had done it in faith, not seeing the reasons why but just believing that God had His reasons. I always questioned what I could have done to be good enough for my dad’s love. But I realized today that in all probability, God hardened my earthly father’s heart because He was jealous for me. And I was able to thank God for my dad.

If I had always had the love and security of a dad, I may never have pursued Jesus like I have. The days when I felt abandoned were the days that I would cling to Him most.

But behind the scenes, He had a dad in waiting for me. For 27 years, I related with Joseph and I waited, wondering what I could have or should have done differently to gain favor.

God keeps secrets, ya’ll.

He keeps the best secrets.

What Do You Do With Father’s Day When You Don’t Have a Father?

The Facebook feed pops up, and after seeing eight status updates, I hit the home button. It’s Father’s Day. I don’t want to read about how everyone’s fathers were wonderful and played with them in their tree houses and had daddy-daughter dates. I don’t have a picture of him and I together past age infant. It’s better that I stay off the internet today.

I check my emails and read one of the blogs I subscribe to. Ann Voskamp is lamenting that her son told her she was like her father. And she hates it. But whatever she is full of spills out when she gets angry.

I realize I am angry. And then I remembered that a pastor in town was preaching about anger today, and I actually considered going.

I get a message from a God-blessed father figure telling me he’s praying for me today.

Hot tears sting my face.

Pandora switches to Bless the Lord, O My Soul. Matt, I really don’t want to hear that song today. And then I hear the Spirit whisper, “Worship.”

I cave to His prompting and give into the tears and let my anger flow down over my face. No matter how many times I am reminded that I wasn’t abused or beaten or drunk-handled, my soul doesn’t rest. It’s what I didn’t have that bothers me most of all. It’s the dates we didn’t have, the sweet words that weren’t said, and the acceptance that wasn’t a given like other children have.

But in those moments, I hear him say that He was in control. That He hardened his heart so that I would have to run to Him. And I don’t know whether I think that’s sweet or not. He said that He was my defender, the shield of my heart, and my hiding place. I learned early to go to Him for my approval. And I say, “Thank you.” He says that He has a plan for my life. And I say, “Thank you.” But I remember all the waveless-passings and all the hugs that weren’t initiated and all the cards that were ridiculed and I question God’s goodness in that.

But the Spirit says, “Come to your Heavenly Daddy.” And I realize I’ve been running from Him today. And I say, “I’m sorry, Daddy.” The play list changes to Shane & Shane, and He reminds me that my happiness is found in less of me and more of Him. The answer is to love Him and to be loved by Him ALONE. When I am not satisfied by His presence, then I have too much of myself in me. I can only boast in Him. How often does He want me to converse with Him and I neglect Him? I feel His pain, and I am remorseful.

The more I worship, the more it’s alright. Another Father’s Day will pass and I may be fatherless but not Father-less. God is a father to the father-less, and today I am celebrating Him. Celebrating His sovereign plan to put me where I am today and celebrating who He created me to be, part of which I haven’t even discovered yet. And in the face of regret and pain and wish-it-were-different’s, I choose to see the blessings and choose to forget the past and look only forward.

And I remember the Hallerin radio show on Friday. What do you do with father’s day when you hate your father? Or don’t like your father? Or don’t have a father? The overwhelming response is this: cling to your Father and forgive and ask Jesus to help you forget. And show them what grace is all about. Because true Christian victory isn’t doing the easy thing like shunning but rather doing the hard thing like loving.

Bring it on, Jesus. For both of us.

Fearing Fear

Sometimes, I’m asked to do awkward things that make me uncomfortable. For instance, the Lord had us move into a house on the same road as a person I loved once upon a time. That’s awkward. Sometimes I go to weddings where I know there will be someone there I don’t want to see. In those times, I almost always have my man go with me. I know he will protect me and make me feel loved & treasured.

I had a similar thought tonight when I read the verse, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.” The picture of Jesus asking to take my arm and walking me through a dark room. I began to think of all the things that I fear. I knew what those things are because I asked myself what things I was dreading or concerned about at the present. A text I got from someone that seemed to blame me for something I wasn‘t responsible for… and how I wanted to validate my reasons and give excuses and how I didn’t want to be MISUNDERSTOOD. So much of my life has been wrapped around the fear of not being allowed to explain myself because my reasons were not important. Because how I thought was wrong. Because I didn’t have enough spirituality to think about a matter objectively. And then my mind went to an event I’m hosting where I knew I would feel inadequate. I was treated very abrasively in the past, and I felt unprepared for the criticism and it send me sprawling over my own self with condemnation. I realized that I fear being PUSHED INTO SELF-REJECTION by the opinions of others. I wish I didn’t let them both me. But they always have. I fear FAILURE and NOT BEING ACCEPTED. I fear NOT LOOKING PERFECT. Among other things, I ultimately fear FEAR. I fear being cornered into a position in which I do not feel comfortable. I fear having to fondle immaturity in order to be accepted. I fear being fake. I fear being a hypocrite. I fear having to act like I don’t feel. I fear NOT BEING MYSELF.

I FEAR NOT BEING ENOUGH.

But this is where Jesus whispers, “You are enough.“ This is where Jesus offers me His arm and asks me to dance. This is where He asks me to lean on Him when I don’t have strength. This is where His peace transcends understanding. I talk to Him while I smile at others. I think on His goodness when I don’t feel like showing any. I look for the smile on His face when I get frowns from others. And even when I give myself a frown.

No one person on this earth has the power to top Jesus’ thoughts about me. And if their opinions have that much sway on me, then it’s my own fault for letting them. My attitude toward fear resigned when put up next to my free will to choose. And I chose faith.

“Don’t try to change what everybody thinks about you. Let your life be the testimony.” -James McDonald

Even when other people are trying to change others’ opinions of them, I’m not allowed. I keep my mouth shut and don’t lobby for attention and don’t create drama so that others will notice me. I don’t cave to the expectations of others because it’s not what I do that matters… it’s who I am. Even if no one decides that I am worthy of the world, Jesus says I am. And He came to my world to make sure I knew that.

And that is pretty much the best thing I’ve heard. Ever.