This past weekend I had the privilege of going home to see my family. It was crazy time full of laughter, fun, childhood friends, and an old fashioned square dance. Even with all the fun planned the first thing I wanted to do on arriving was run into my father’s arms – and stay there! The last few weeks of ministry have been rough and challenging to say the least and nowhere on earth do I find a place which holds more physical security and peace than in the arms of my Dad.
Knowing I had a rough few weeks, Pops arrange to take me out on a date. I love daddy dates by the way! As one of 7 daughters, a date with ‘Papa’ as we endearingly call him is always special. My Dad was my first date at age 14. It was fun then – but looking back now, it was monumental in my life.
Fathers, whether they know it or not, are the first to speak value and identity into their daughters. Girls learn what is and is not the normal way to treat and be treated by men from their dads.
There is a lot of weight to the thought that girls marry and date guys like their dad. Not the same professions, looks, or personality but character traits – lazy or hard working, a leader or a follower, etc. Sadly in unhealthy abuse situations girls don’t think they are worth more than the way their dad treated them. Unless they do a lot of work to readjust their thinking – they will often marry abusers as well. I ‘ve had teens I work with break up with really amazing godly boyfriends and their only reason is that the guy was too good for them. They didn’t know how to react when they were treated like a lady.
Women seek approval, acceptance and worth from men. Since the fall, it’s almost an ingrained trait in us. If we don’t get it in a healthy way from our dads (and ultimately the Lord) we will turn to other men (and boys!) to get it or even rebel to the point of lesbianism and desiring that approval from other women.
My Dad “dated” me all through high school; he told me and showed me that I was worth something – I was loved, beautiful, accepted, and wanted. He not only emotionally affirmed me, but intellectually and spiritually challenged me as well. I didn’t have much of a desire to date in high school because I knew how a guy should treat a girl and most of the guys in high school wanted only one thing. Thanks to my Dad I knew I had something worth waiting for and had many things to offer a godly man someday.
My Dad and I don’t have a perfect relationship but four years after leaving his roof and living independently, I thank him for giving me feet to stand and wings to fly. Ten years after my “first date” I asked my dad why he “dated” me then and now. He said “as a young girl I wanted you to get your affirmation from me and not look for it else where and now – well I knew you just needed some Papa time”. Thank you Pops.
Men, if you’re reading this, please date your daughters. Work on the relationship, as we might not always want it but we need it. Show us we are worth fighting for. Don’t have daughters? Little sisters, nieces, cousins and the single mother’s daughter down the road all need you. Girls in your youth group need you. Women respond to men and vice versa – it’s way easier to display godly femininity when godly masculinity is shown to us. We absorb actions without realizing it. Men, girls need you!
Girls, I know it’s not always easy to be friends with your dad, and maybe you don’t have a dad that would ever “date” you, but your dad needs your affirmation as much as you need his. Guys are all about respect – if you blow him off he’s not going to ask to do anything with you again anytime soon. Girls, let your dad or a dad figure in your life love you. Encourage their efforts – its not easy being a dad and they don’t understand your emotions any more than you do at times.
Cut him some slack and show your dad you want to be loved by him. He’s not a mind reader – ask him. “Dad – think we could do something together (and name something specific) – it would mean a lot to me if we did…” And girls, pray for him. If you don’t have a dad or maybe you have an abusive one, he’s hurting too – pray for him and then seek someone else out to be a “dad”. I have a “second dad” closer to where I live that I can bounce stuff off of. What a blessing this man is to me!
One last thing – Dads will always fail you. I love my dad – he’s my hero, but he is no more perfect than I am. The Lord never fails though and the acceptance and identity that come through Him can never be taken away. If you haven’t had a good experience with your dad, seeing the Lord as a father is a difficult thing to do but I challenge you – good or bad Dad experience – to ask the Lord to be a Father to you – to show you what a perfect Father looks like. He is the ultimate safe place for us to be weak, to be safe, to be secure and to have peace. He never disappoints and I fall in love* with Him more every day. I encourage you to date your dad and/or your Heavenly Father.
*Check out my blog on “Falling in Love with Jesus!?!“