It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I realized the significant role fathers play in the psychological and emotional development of their children, especially daughters. The lack of having a positive father figure in my childhood had a detrimental impact on me, especially throughout my teenage and adult years. I have what you call “daddy issues,” and it took me a long time to overcome them.
In fact, it is still a work in progress. My father left my mother when I was 10 when she was pregnant with my brother. I went from being daddy’s little girl to being a lost, devastated and confused child. My father was also a womanizer. He was never faithful to my mother, and I recall at a very young age finding his stash of pornographic magazines. As I result, I grew up with distorted thinking regarding men, sex, and what a woman’s worth is dependent on.
Living With a Daddy Hole
I’ve heard it said that a woman will be attracted to men who are like their father and will keep seeking a man to replace the father she didn’t have. I found this to be true in my life.
For years I kept looking for love in the wrong places, and I became promiscuous. Seeking to fill this void inside, this longing to be loved, accepted and cherished, I kept finding the same type men. Those who were womanizers, abusive, unwilling to commit, and/or emotionally unavailable, like my father, was. I dressed provocatively, putting much emphasis on my body and looks because that’s what I thought would attract and keep a man; I based my self-worth on how sexy I would look. Pursuing the ever elusive romantic love that I thought would fill the emptiness and longing inside of me, I became a love addict. After I found the Lord, I started to change, but I still had struggles in this area. I felt that I needed to have a man in my life to make me complete. It took me a while to totally submit myself to the Lord, in my singleness and loneliness, and to accept the fact that I didn’t need a man to complete me.
Because of my past, I have struggled with shame and regret, and many times felt unworthy of Jesus’ complete and utter love for me and His forgiveness of my sins.
Jesus Meets Us
Some of my favorite scriptures in the bible are the ones where Jesus interacts with women, especially women of ill repute. He was compassionate and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Jesus was kind and engaged in conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, offering her the fountain of everlasting life. To the sinful woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil in Luke 7, He offered compassion, forgiveness, and salvation. Whenever the enemy throws fiery darts at me, telling me I am not worthy, or whispering reminders my past, I close my eyes, and picture my loving and compassionate Jesus, talking to me just like He did to these women in scripture, and I am greatly comforted. I know He hears my cries, and He has forgiven me.
Whenever the enemy throws fiery darts at me – telling me I am not worthy, or whispering reminders my past, I close my eyes, and picture my loving and compassionate Jesus, talking to me just like He did to these women in scripture, and I am greatly comforted. I know He hears my cries, and He has forgiven me.
Seeing the Father as He Is
Because my earthly father was not emotionally available, I have also struggled with recognizing and embracing that my Heavenly Father is always accessible – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And that He hears me and accepts me. It can be hard for those who have had a less than an ideal father figure to separate the definition of a father based on our schemas we developed as children, e.g. harsh, unloving, immoral, from the actual attributes of our heavenly Father: righteous, loving, gracious. As a result, it can be difficult to come before Him, because we hold a distorted view of who He is, thinking that He won’t or can’t love us, forgive us, and accept us, or that He is just waiting to pour out His anger and wrath on us. These are thoughts that I have had to overcome, and it is still a work in progress. But by His grace, they are becoming few and far between.
The more that I read His word, the more I want to know about Him. And the more I know about Him, the closer I draw to Him. As I continue to grow in my walk with the Lord, I am finding that He is a good, good Father. He has filled the emptiness that I had inside of me for so many years. I am no longer trying to please my earthly father, or seek his approval. I no longer feel that I need to dress or look a certain way to be valued. Jesus has filled my heart completely and made me into a new creation. I am no longer bound by shame and regret; I have been set free by the love and grace of my Savior. Seeing myself as my Heavenly Father sees me: a precious daughter who is forgiven and accepted. Jesus is the only Father figure I need.
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About the Author
Gabrielle graduated from California State University with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Counseling. She is a follower of Jesus, wife, and mother of three adult children and two step-children. She loves animals, reading, watching old classic movies, spending time in nature, and admiring the beautiful handiwork of our awesome Creator. Visit her blog at Pearl and Nuggets. You can connect with her on Facebook and Google+.