My Heavenly Daddy

“I’m ashamed of my wife! I’m ashamed of my daughters!” My dad’s drunken voice jarred my birthday-eve sleeplessness. It wasn’t the first alcohol-induced tirade I’d overheard, but it was the first that specifically included me.

I remember thinking, “I’m only 8 years old. What I have done to be ashamed of?”

Six weeks later my mom picked up my my sister and I from school in the middle of the day and we were soon on a bus from Michigan to California to “visit” my grandparents. I didn’t know I’d never live in Michigan again.

I didn’t see my dad for the next six years. We seldom heard from him. He usually remembered to send a card for Christmas and our birthdays, but that was the extent of his involvement.

By the time he came to visit when I was 14, I no longer viewed him as my “Daddy.” Sure, he was technically my father, but we had no real relationship. And he wasn’t a protector or provider or playmate or any of the things kids come to (or should be able to) expect from a dad.

Even though my mom remarried and there was a male presence in my life, he couldn’t fill the place of the Daddy I didn’t have.

I don’t remember when I first heard the verse, “He is a father to the fatherless.” (Psalm 68:5), but I knew its truth in my heart. One July evening the summer before that sadly memorable birthday, during our church’s Vacation Bible School week, I came to understand that God loved me and wanted me to be His child. I did have a sense that God was always with me from that point on. There’s a song that my kids are singing in VBS this year that puts it perfectly,
“I have a Father, He calls me His own,
He’ll never leave me, no matter where I go.”
(Based on Psalm 139.)

Because of His presence in my life, I didn’t feel abandoned when we moved from Michigan to California. Or when I struggled through the period of adjusting to being in a step-family. Or when I changed high schools three times.

I know I’m not alone in having an absent father. Sometimes, even kids who have a dad who lives in their house, has a job that provides for them, shows up for their games or performances, don’t feel like they have that real “Daddy” that their heart longs for.

And that can make Father’s Day an especially difficult time. TV commercials show dads and kids laughing and playing ball together. Or washing the car and having a heart-to-heart talk about important life issues. The racks of Father’s Day cards are filled with sentiments that feel artificial or insincere. And in the midst of it all there’s that little voice that says, “I wish…”

I was one of those kids. In some ways, I still am. But despite my own dad’s inability or unwillingness to be a good father, I am grateful I lived with the unspoken but heartfelt awareness that God fills those places.

Maybe you didn’t grow up with a real “Daddy,” either. Or maybe your heart breaks because your children don’t have the dad they deserve. My prayer is that you’ll know the comforting touch of your heavenly Daddy.

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV) – “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

5 Responses to My Heavenly Daddy
  1. Crystal Monae'
    June 18, 2011 | 8:59 am

    When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. Psalm 27:10

  2. Sharon O
    June 18, 2011 | 11:41 am

    I fully understand this writing…my own dad left when I was four,so growing up with no daddy was the norm. God has always had a hand on me in the midst of terrible days ahead as we moved and searched for stability. I have always known God was with me, not sure how but as a high schooler when I first heard “Jesus loves you” I grasped it with a thirst for love like no one can explain.
    The story is LONG and very involved. My parents remarried and now they are in their 80’s growing old together.

    • Mary
      June 18, 2011 | 1:39 pm

      What an unexpected, sweet ending to your parents’ story! I’m glad you also understood His presence in your fatherless days. I hope your Father’s Days now are happy ones!


  3. Kimberly
    June 18, 2011 | 8:44 pm

    This is such a great post for all of those who are longing for the love of a father and find tomorrow to be a difficult day. Thanks for sharing this!

    I am so thankful for our Heavenly Father’s love. My dad passed away when I was 18, so I have also found out about how He is so tenderly a Father to the fatherless. His love truly is amazing.

  4. Hannah
    March 6, 2013 | 11:16 am

    I too know what it’s like to have an absentee dad. To be honest I struggle with the truth that God is not full of wrath and unforgiveness as my own dad was. I’m 27 now and I have not been able to talk to my dad for over 5 years, which has been my choice, a very hard choice, but made with many reasons. I do love and forgive my dad, Hes not the worst the world has seen, but he did alot of wrong and has no interest in making them right. With the years of learning how to respond to my earthly dad, I know it’s awful of me, though I try real hard, it’s hard to keep remembering that God is different, He is loving, forgiving, and present, present in a good way, He’s not looking at me waiting for a moment to yell at me. I have a hard time separating these images between the earthly dad I knew and my Heavenly Dad. Im sure learning though, He is showing me His all embracing and present love, it just doesn’t come to my perception as easily as I wish, but I’m getting there. I’m sorry I went on so much, it’s been on my head lately, and I don’t have any one I know that relates with me.