There were walls . . . and the comfort of my Mama, her firm comfort, that never beat around a bush and always said things like they were, in a loving way. There were no half-truths with my Mama, no excuses for behavior, like “I’m too tired,” or “I’m too hungry.” There was grace, but honest grace. Grace without truth is just frosting with no cake, and who wants frosting all the time?
He wanted frosting. He wanted the half-truths and the no-questions-asked, and the license to go, to do what he wanted to and no one to answer to. And he was warm when things went his way and he was steel-cold when they didn’t and when he left he left hurt and he left pain and he twisted the knife so that it cut deep. And when he left . . . so many times. And we scrimped and we saved and we made sacrifices because my Mama was determined to pay the tuition to the Christian school that we attended. And then he came back and it was a little better until the next time.
Until the final blow when all hell broke loose and he didn’t scream and he didn’t storm and there was just silence, icy silence that chilled the bone and left a hollow cavity in the air of unrest. And the knife stuck, stuck and twisted deep and the pain nearly broke us, tore us limb for limb and groping for the agony of the wound. So he left . . . And we would have lost heart, tumbled deep, tumbled far, but the Lord was a light to us, a sure and certain light and the agony of the wound was hushed, not erased, but hushed and there was grace.
He was a Father to us . . . O Lord, my Rock and my Deliverer . . . a strength in times of trouble, the One who held us up and did not leave us destitute. “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, not his children begging for bread . . .” (Psalm 37:25) He was a Father to us, a Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows.
Years ago, before my heart was opened to the understanding, I felt cheated, hurt and forsaken by my father’s lack of caring, lack of involvement in our lives, lack of sacrificial love for my Mama, absence of love for his God. I felt hurt and I felt cheated and I let the wound fester inside my heart, let the grief run into tears of bitter woe. There were times like the day that I wanted him to teach me how to drive, and I knew that he didn’t want to. When I asked him he was reluctant; he wanted to watch the football game, and that was more important to him, more important than teaching his daughter how to drive, than spending time with me. And his reluctance bit into my soul and crushed my spirit. And so many times I felt cheated and crushed. And I looked at the other girls with their daddys who adored them and spent time with them and loved them . . . and felt a hollow ache that couldn’t be filled.
Until the Lord broke through to me, my Baal Perizim, my enlightening, and the lifting of my heart’s heavy load.
The love of the Father, poured into my heart, filling the empty places, flooding the dark places with the light of heaven. I knew, I felt His love and compassion. He filled the empty place and my heart sang for joy. The Lord in His wisdom had allowed me not to “have” an earthly father, so that I would cling to my heavenly One. The pain was softened. The load was lightened and I could reach out my hands to the unseen Father and feel His pleasure and joy. I could sing with all my heart:
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.