Growing up, I spent a lot of time at other people's houses. My mom, a single working mom was always working and generally didn't have time to watch over me. I had two childhood best friends (both sisters) and I felt like a member of their family. I would sleep over during the week, go over their house after school, and was even invited to their family vacations. On 9/11, I was one of the last children in the auditorium waiting to get picked up because my mom wasn't able to leave work. I ended up going over to their house and learned of the event later on. I looked up to my friend's parents and wished my family looked like theirs.
For the majority of my childhood, up until freshman year of high school I spent more time at friend's houses than my own. I would observe the dynamics of a family where the parents were still together, look at family photos posted on Facebook, and imagine how life would be if my parents were still married. I would imagine my friend's first father-daughter dance, looking very picturesque and then I would think of my biological father; hair disheveled, wearing socks with holes in them because he doesn't like spending money on clothes, smelling of cigarettes, and some type of gum to mask the smell of cigarettes. I grew embarrassed and ashamed at the thought. I remember at one point not even wanting to have my father at my wedding and asking my brother to walk me down the aisle.
It took me a long time to let go of this idea of perfection, especially within a family. Every family has their own version of crazy.
While my father and mother are no longer together and family photos past a certain age are scarce, I'm grateful both of my parents are believers. I'm grateful that my father prays for hours on end for me and my siblings, and that he's always encouraged me to read the bible, attend church, and use my gifts for God's glory. I'm grateful for all the times he called me in college, encouraging me to pray. At the time, I found my father extremely annoying and overbearing. Now, I just see a father who loves his daughter.
I don't want to imagine how my life would have turned out if my father didn't pray for me, or if he didn't care whether or not I know Jesus. I no longer want him to be a millionaire, surprising me with a car on my 16th birthday, or to be the type of man my husband will immediately understand and want to play golf with.
The more I come to know Christ, the more I understand and love my father. Perfection is never the goal of a parent who trusts and loves God. They're willing to throw away the title of Cool Parent for the sake of their child's soul. The goal is to raise a child who knows what Jesus has done on the cross for them, and how much they're loved by God. Divorce doesn't change their purpose.
While my parent's marriage wasn't successful, they were successful at raising children who know and love God, which was always the goal.
Thank you for coming to my defenses when Peter called me out for drooling. For teaching me to wink. For capturing my childhood on VHS. For passing down your gift of music. For teaching me to pray.