A daughter sees her worth through her father’s eyes

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.

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  1. Angie says

    Growing up, I have never had the privilege to experience my father’s love (whether in word or deed)…He was abusive towards my mum, a bummer and always heavily in debt…the only father role model I had was when I knew of the Abba Father…till this day, I attribute my tumultuous childhood and damaged self-worth to this quotient of the absent dad…in a way your conclusion of “a daughter sees her worth through her dad’s eyes” ring so true…I’m heartened that my hubby is doing such an excellent job at connecting with our daughter and giving her all the love I never once had or imagine an earthly father can give…I’ll love to read the book someday…I’m sure Jennifer would have precious insights to encourage and inspire…
    Angie recently posted..October Playbook: Scat-Sing!My Profile

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hi Angie, thanks for sharing your heart. I empathise with you…but I can also see how knowing the love of your Father in heaven has healed you of those hurts. You no longer need to seek the approval of anyone else but Him…

  2. says

    I totally agree with that sentence. I’m the firstborn too and blessed with very loving parents. In my youth, everything I did, I sought for my father’s approval. I looked up to him alot and wanted to be just like him. Even now when I make big decisions, I consult him. I love my mother tremendously but it’s my father’s “I’m proud of you” face that make my day. Maybe because dads are less vocal, that’s why their words are more precious? 🙂
    Adora recently posted..The One Where I Cry at the Hair SalonMy Profile

  3. says

    Very true! My dad’s silent smile of approval is very important even today. I force him to read my scientific reports (not blog tho, he doesn’t know) and wait to see him smile. And it means a lot to know he’s proud of me.
    So it’s equally important that the hubby plays an anchoring role in the kid’s development and as a role model of strength and love.
    Nerdymum recently posted..Grateful for Health and TimeMy Profile

  4. says

    Sigh. That story really resonates with so many out there. There is really something deep and powerful in the affirming love of a father, especially in words. My husband and I are currently attending this parenting course at our church, and we recently finished a session on The Father’s Mandate, and one of the important mandates is giving words of love. Even if not verbally, the fathers were encourage to perhaps write a little letter or note, maybe to leave it in the child’s lunchbox or schoolbag. Such words or letters are so precious. I remember my father when he sent me off to study overseas, he didn’t say much, but later on I found a small piece of paper he had written on and left it in my room. It was really a very simple note reminding me to take care of myself and to do my best at uni. But I treasure it so much and keep it with me always. So I definitely agree how important and precious a father’s words are.
    Serenely recently posted..Distraction object regretMy Profile

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      That’s such a sweet story and love letter! Oh I wish all dads would take a leaf out of your dad’s book too! :p A simple word of love can truly work wonders for a little girl’s heart…Thank you for sharing, Serene!

  5. says

    when you mentioned ‘dad’ and how important is his role, I keep thinking of my late dad too! He has put an impact on me during my years of growing, and till today, he stills do even he is now back to GOD’s embrace. I would love to read this book, and of course if it’s a win from the giveway, it will be good.

    I have concern on my girl who born without a father, and guess then me will have to play the role of that and let her understand the situation well.

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      I’m glad to hear you have fond memories of your dad that lasts even till today. My prayer and hope is that you will find a good male figure who can leave a positive influence on your little girl’s life – the same way your dad did. Thanks for sharing here…

  6. ppp says

    oh i missed my dad, he left for another world (hopefully in heaven) more than 10 years ago but i still miss him dearly…

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