The colors were wine red, white, and black. I had just finished my dance
performance and rushed to change into my bridesmaid dress. As I tried to make
use of the church’s small bathroom stall, my mind flashed back to a year ago. I
was enjoying worship in church and reached for my bible. I touched my dad’s
inscribed name on the front and couldn’t hold back the tears. I rushed to the
bathroom and just let it out. As strong as I tried to be for everyone all this time, I
stole a few moments just to miss my dad. I wiped my tears and emerged from
the stall to come face to face with the pastor’s wife. Embarrassed, I wiped any
remnants of sadness and smiled. “You miss your dad, don’t you?” she asked.
Here come the tears again, I thought. And oh God here comes that church hug.
She squeezed me tight before pulling away to look me in my eyes and said
something I never thought I’d hear from anyone else’s mouth.
“Jennifer, I had a dream your mother got married again. The man was tall and
light-skinned...” I immediately pictured a faceless man my mom would love! Oh,
she deserved to be happy. “Ok mom, I see you!” I thought to myself. “Jennifer I
believe that man is your dad.” Poof! Vision gone. “Really??” I said. There’s no
way my mom knows about this dream. I could see her raiding the bathroom now
just to shut down the idea of them getting back together again. “Yes, really!” she
said. “I believe there’s hope, Jennifer. There’s hope when there’s forgiveness. I
just wanted to share that with you.” She hugged me again. Little did she know,
that spark of faith that had completely died began to flicker.
A loud knock on the bathroom door woke me out of my daydream. “Jennifer,
hurry up! It’s time!” I gathered my things and rushed upstairs. The doors to the
sanctuary slowly opened, and we marched down the aisle as rehearsed. There
he was. The man of my mother’s dreams. They had started dating about a year
ago, but it seemed sudden from the first time I saw them hold hands in the car. I
smiled through my braces as I walked, praying I wouldn’t fall on my face.
Suddenly, I could see him clearly. My dad at the altar, smiling back at me. A
whole new man from the man on the couch. Fresh haircut, sharp tux, bright
eyes, a wholesome smile... and an even sweeter spirit. I thought I would cry
during the ceremony, but I couldn’t help but beam as my mom met my dad at
the altar. It was beautiful. More than magical... this was a miracle.
"Reality set in that this man would be back in our home. But this time, my guard would be up. Nothing would ever take me by surprise again."
After the wedding, my siblings and I entered the house, my uncle and other
family waiting there. We all laughed and shared memories of the day. I asked my
older sister when my parents would be back. She said “Girl, they’re on their
honeymoon having a good time. Who knows!” Then it hit me. I walked into my
mother’s room, where she and my siblings and I used to crowd together with our
popcorn, watching Sunday night shows. Would that have to change? I’ve had
my mom to myself and now I have to share her? My normal was changing again.
I could feel the anxiety. The confusion. Reality set in that this man would be back
in our home. But this time, my guard would be up. Nothing would ever take me
by surprise again.
The transition wasn’t easy. I had to relinquish control. I didn’t trust him just yet, but I also didn’t have a choice. He’d proven himself time and time again to be consistent, but it took much longer for me to believe my dad was back for good.
Now, 19 years later, he’s been back for better than good! We’ve rebuilt our relationship and trust. He’s loved and adored my mother, and she’s fallen in love with her life again. He's survived two major organ transplants. They’re living their God-ordained purpose together, running a successful counseling service that aids others through addiction, marital
problems, and lifestyle changes. I mean... who could ask for better? They have
an amazing story. And I wanted that for myself.
Now, as I embrace singleness again, I can clearly see how much I was looking for him
in a lot of my past relationships. Looking for my daddy. For my hero, my security.
Even as I’m writing this, I see it plain as day- the lasting effects of losing my dad,
even though he’s very much active in my life today. It’s crystal clear- I’ve been
attracted to the hurting. I’ve stayed longer than I should in failing relationships
(romantic or not) because I’ve refused to give up on people. I also had a hard
time believing my parent’s story of reconciliation can’t be mine, so I placed my
value in redeeming the past. Wanting those who discarded me to finally see me
because love conquers all, right? Setting boundaries was a challenge and
speaking up was unheard of. And loving myself... what is that?
Well, I think I have an idea of what that is. It’s writing and sharing your story,
even if the journey is ongoing. It’s knowing and owning who you, even if it means
loving while letting go. It’s doing the work, seeking therapy, and affirming
yourself daily. And for me, it’s also telling that little girl, “Jennifer, guess what?
Daddy’s really home. He’s back, he’s safe. He’s imperfect, but he’s still the best.
You don’t have to look for him anymore.” It’s giving the hug she desperately
needs, and letting her go run and play without fear. And putting on my favorite
pumps to walk into another phase of womanhood. Because thank God, I’ve
found my daddy. Now, it’s time to find me.