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Looking for Daddy: Part 3

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.

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