She shared her life story in front of a small audience. Drama after drama, heartache after heartache, relationship after relationship. At the age of 17, she went through an abortion. It was not a simple procedure because she was already advanced in her pregnancy.
At one point, she related a story about her final week in Discipleship Training School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) – an intensive five-month programme focused on Christian discipleship. She had just sat through a guest speaker’s teaching, and it was time for prayer. He started to pray for a classmate seated near her, but each word he uttered felt like it was meant for her. Soon, steeped in tears, she began to release all her years of pain in front of her classmates in the room.
The speaker sat her down in the middle of the room, placed a towel on his shoulder and laid her head on it for her to cry into. He began to speak into her life, words that affirm the Father’s love for her – gentle and loving words.
In other people’s eyes, she was always the strong one, the warrior, but that day, she was vulnerable, like a small and fearful child.
At this point, I started to cry. While my teenage years were not half as dramatic or traumatic as hers, the underlying thread was the same. I remembered growing up wondering why my dad had never expressd his love to me. My primary love language is words of encouragement, and as a young girl, I longed to hear him speak just one kind, affirming word to me, and it never quite came. That longing soon turned into anger when teenagehood arrived.
I spent those years looking for love in the wrong places, and now as a grown, married woman, I finally understand the reason. It was because I was unable to find an anchor in my father’s love.
I am not blaming my dad for the mistakes I’ve made. He’s not caused me harm or hurt in any intentional way. He showed love as best as he knew how, and faithfully provided for the family and served us with his hands and strength. Today, I know that he loves me and my mum, and I know he is proud of his grandkids. Even though he still doesn’t express his love verbally, I can see it in the small ways – how he laughs with the kids, and buys little gifts for them.
On hindsight, I can see his love for me in the small ways too…
A daughter sees her worth through her father’s eyes.
As I listened to Jennifer share her story in her steady, calm voice, I found it hard to imagine that she had to go through all those years of guilt, hurt, and shame. I could no longer see that fearful child in her. All I saw was a lady rescued by the grace and love of the Father.
I bought her book, Walking out of Secret Shame, and am almost halfway through it. Here is a short excerpt:
I’ve always wanted my Dad to be proud of me. He was a high achiever himself, intelligent and astute. I guess he wanted me to be like him. As the firstborn, my parents had high expectations of me and I managed to do pretty well in school. But words of affirmation and encouragement were seldom heard and I wondered if I was still missing the mark.
While I was growing up, my life was filled with classes of every sort – piano, ballet, art and swimming. I excelled in all of them as well as in my studies. I was extroverted and had a strong personality. As a result, I was often picked for various roles in school plays, or was made the class monitor or school prefect…I was innately driven by a need for recognition and applause and worked hard to see the proud looks on my parents’ faces, although those were few and far between.
When Dad left, all that seemed to fall apart. I lost my motivation to excel. I became angry, resentful and stressed by the expectations of both my Mum and myself. I hated that I was not doing as well as I had done when I was younger. Yet I did not know how to manage my growing anxiety and fear when demands were placed on me. It was as though my Dad’s leaving caused me to lose the motivation to excel…
This story could have been mine, or perhaps someone you know. As I’ve been touched by her story, I would like to give away two signed copies of her book to you. If you know someone who will be blessed by the book, feel free to leave a comment here saying you would like a copy, or you can also email me at mamawearpapashirt (AT) gmail.com.