when daddy’s love is not enough

Dad and I at Hungry for Hope 2011, following our speech

she is thin, and this, no surprise at an eating disorders conference. we are crowded into a castle in colorado, red rocks scaling blue skies through tall glass windows and dad and i are on stage, and beside us, a therapist. i’m wearing a green dress and black leggings. dad’s in his sunday clothes, the ones he preaches in, and todd sits beside an easel on which is scribbled diagrams describing it all.

i’ve talked about being nine years old and about wanting to please dad and him only wanting to please the church and how this made me starve myself. i’ve talked about nearly dying at 13 and the nurses telling me i was a miracle and i’ve talked about now: how i’m still healing and still learning that humans are only flesh.

and she raises her hand, and her voice wavers and she wasn’t expecting that. she asks how it felt when i finally felt seen and heard and cherished by my earthly father. how it felt when he began trying, when he opened his office door and noticed the little girl sobbing for his approval.

it’s too quiet as i try to find the words. i don’t want to hurt the gentle man beside me, but i want to say it true, and so i say this: “it wasn’t as fulfilling as i thought it would be.”

for all of the healing there are some needs which no earthly person can fill. some cracks which no clay will fix, for i’m emotional and artistic and he’s pragmatic and that is okay, because then i tell her about the hug.

the one i received from Jesus the night before, during worship: guitar-strum, djembe-beat and palms raised in a room full of singing sinners.

eyes closed, his beard had scratched my cheek, the cheek of a little girl in a pink dress, and he was hugging me, Jesus, and telling me over and over how precious i was, then looking at my hands, at my feet, at me, saying, “how beautiful you are…”

and then, the next song, and i closed my eyes again hoping to see Jesus once more but not wanting to disturb him for fear of rejection, and he was God, and who was i to want him to hold me forever, and so in my mind, i peered out at him from behind a bush, this little girl in a pink dress, and there he was: looking for me.

God, trying to find me. God, wanting to hold me. God, wanting to be with me. and this, for a girl who never felt her father wanted to be with her, this mended all of those cracks, the ones that mud couldn’t fill…

and now, i turn to the gentle man beside me and see him for all of his loveliness and accept his broken way of giving because isn’t this all any of us has? shattered offerings?

*for videos and discussion questions on healing, please visit here.

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14 thoughts on “when daddy’s love is not enough

  1. Yes, Emily, indeed. It is all any of us has. There is one being and one only who will never disappoint, and you’ve spoken of him here. And he’s not earthly. We can learn from him but we will never be him. We can come close but we’ll never quite get there. The sooner we realize what you have about our earthly travelers, the more quickly healing will happen, I think.

  2. WOW that was powerful. Isn’t it crazy — we know God loves us, is always there for us and wants the best for us — but to truly wake up find out that he is looking for us and is on our team. Oh to be able to turn that corner and see or feel God looking for us how wonderous. I have yet to turn that corner completely, but long for it and fear it all the same. Thank you for sharing your words.

    • hi dear tam,
      i received your email today, and will be connecting with you that way, friend. i pray for strength for you today as you seek his face. may you know how incredibly special you are. e.

  3. thank you, ember – my dear sister with her real emotion and random revelations 🙂

    I love you. thanks for sharing this sobering-yet-strengthening truth, em.

  4. we don’t know each other and this post isn’t recent, but i found it and it touched me. i found it randomly and it spoke to the many children i still have inside me, many (and not one) because of the brokenness of my former life, though i have found a real Life wrapped up in our Jesus. so the children are mostly at peace, but still perk up their ears when something catches their interest. this did. healing is still a journey, and we’ve come far, but not far enough that this didn’t make them long for something. and smile because you’ve found it, and so will i.

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