My father passed away several weeks ago. There are a lot of lessons to learn when you watch your daddy die.
I’ve learned, deep in my soul, where words can’t reach and only experience can teach, that death is the enemy. Yet I’ve also learned to be utterly grateful that Jesus has overcome death. One day, I will be with my father in the mystery that is heaven, and I’ll hold his perfect body, and we will wonder what tears are.
But there is one more lesson I’ve had to learn in a new way as I watched my daddy die. I’ve learned to come face-to-face with the fact that I am a daughter.
I may be a wife, I may be a writer, I may work in ministry, people may rely on me for wisdom and help. But none of this changes the fact that I am also a daughter. At the core of my being, I carry the blessings and wounds of being my father’s daughter.
That’s true for most of us. Whatever it has meant to you to be a daughter is recorded at the roots of your soul. Somewhere in your head, you still think of yourself in these terms: cherished, loved, encouraged, acknowledged, accepted, protected, worthy, wanted, or abandoned, rejected, put down, criticized, judged, neglected.
Whatever your father thought of you is how a part of you still thinks of yourself. Daughter.
There is a story in the Gospels about a woman who has been sick for 12 years. She has suffered from a bleeding disease, and no physician can help her. She is broken and devastatingly alone.
There are two more things we know about her. We know that Jesus heals her and her body stops bleeding the moment her hand touches His dust-stained robe.
And perhaps, more importantly, we also know that Jesus calls her “daughter.” In fact, she is the only person in all of the New Testament whom Jesus calls daughter.
When you read her story carefully, it seems that in addition to bleeding outwardly, this woman’s heart is bleeding inwardly from a different kind of wound.
A father wound.
A father’s rejection or absence, his neglect, abandonment or scorn. We don’t know how she has been hurt any more than we know the modern diagnosis for her physical bleeding.
We just know that in a culture where fathers show up to advocate for their daughters, she comes to Jesus alone, in secrecy and shame. There is no father to appeal on her behalf.
And Jesus, looking at her, perceives the lack. Recognizes the wound. And He chooses to heal it.
“Daughter,” He calls her. And with that one word, He claims her as His own. It is as if Jesus is saying, “You have Me to father you now. You have me to take care of you, love you, cherish you. Everything good in a father that you missed, you will have in Me. I will be your father.”
With that one proclamation, all the lies, shame and hurt attached to her experiences as a daughter are healed. Jesus has the power to restore the daughter inside us, to make us whole where our fathers, despite their best or worst efforts, failed us.
After my father passed away, we found a picture of me as a little girl in his favorite briefcase. He used to carry that battered old thing on every trip with him. Through the years, there I was, forever captured in the photo as a 5-year-old, forever close to Daddy’s heart.
In real life, my father couldn’t always be there for me. I knew from the day I was born that he loved me. But he was a busy man, and he didn’t always have time to spend with me. When I came to the United States, we were separated from each other for years. I was fatherless, even though I was loved.
All these separations left their mark. A throbbing bruise that can’t be banished with human strength.
What I have found, though, is that Jesus can overcome these wounds. Daughter, He calls me, and I know we will never be separated. He is never too busy for me. I will never be abandoned. One day, I will be with my earthly daddy in heaven. Until that day, I will have the perfect love of my heavenly Father to make me whole, make me daughter.
Dear Jesus, thank You that You have called me daughter. Thank You that You desire to teach me what it means to be cherished and protected. Please restore my heart today, and help me to trust You to be the Father I need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 3:1a, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (NLT)
In Land of Silence, a novel based on the woman with the issue of blood, Tessa Afshar tells the story of how God can heal a daughter’s heart.
Stop by Tessa’s website to watch as she talks more fully about how Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood, while reaching out to us with the same tender healing.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Can you identify the specific ways that your relationship with your father may have wounded you? Ask Jesus to heal each wound.
© 2016 by Tessa Afshar. All rights reserved. Originally posted on Proverbs31.org.
Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the FamilyFiction-sponsored Readers Choice Awards in 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. Her second book, Harvest of Rubies, was nominated for the 2013 ECPA Christian Book Award in the fiction category and chosen by World magazine as one of four notable books of the year. Her novel Harvest of Gold won the 2014 Christy Award for historical fiction. In the Field of Grace, based on the biblical story of Ruth, was nominated for the Grace Award.
Tessa was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University, where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. Tessa has spent the last seventeen years in full-time Christian work in New England and the last fourteen years on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. Visit her online at www.tessaafshar.com.