My sisters would probably say that I earned the title, “Daddy’s Girl” when I went off to the Coast Guard Academy after high school. Or perhaps it was before that, when I was the only one of the three of us with an affinity for shooting a rifle. But I didn’t start to identify myself as a “Daddy’s Girl” until I was in my thirties. Six years ago, the week leading up to Memorial Day 2011, I spent on a roof with my Daddy. Re-roofing a house is not for the faint-of-heart, those lacking in perseverance, or anyone who is overly invested in her fingernails. Somehow, as I look back, I don’t remember too much of the aches and pains. I know that, in the end, I was absolutely exhausted, had a horrific sunburn on my lower back, and was not anxious to change professions. But, what I remember most is the ultimate father-daughter bonding experience. We became a team, learning as we went, and getting the second half done twice as fast as the first. Before that week, I had helped with some cement pours, car repairs, and general home maintenance projects, but replacing a roof required a whole new level of commitment.
Now when I visit my parents, that roof is for me a monument to my relationship with Daddy. (Yes, he will always be Daddy to my sisters and me.) I know that God has blessed me unspeakably with my family. It is rightly said that you can’t choose your family. But God chose for me to have parents who would love and appreciate me, no matter what. They want to see me have a family of my own because I desire to, but they don’t love me less because I lack a husband and haven’t given them grandchildren. Meanwhile, I appreciate them even more because I don’t have those things. I need them more.
It occurred to me sometime back, that until the last century, a single woman would never have left her father’s house. In that situation, the father provided the protection and security that a husband would have otherwise. I don’t live in my father’s house anymore, but I have made a conscious decision to keep a close connection with him. I think God wants it that way, and it is certainly a blessing to me. We often hear about how marriage represents the relationship between Christ and the Church. Let’s not forgot that God also has a fatherly relationship with us. My relationship with my father has certainly helped to inform me about God’s love for me and how I am to love Him.
I may have become a “Certified Daddy’s Girl” when I re-roofed the house with him, but it isn’t because I love him more than my sisters. Nor did I put myself through long days of manual labor because I was trying to earn my father’s love or approval. Rather, the act of service was a demonstration of my love for him. God enabled me to show my love in that way. (One of my sister’s was able to show her love by caring for our elderly Grandpa so that Daddy was free to spend that week on the roof!)
This past December, my Grandpa, Daddy’s father, passed away. He was ninety-five and we knew he was ready to see his Savior face-to-face. A few days before he passed, I was driving home from work early, so that my sister and I could go to be with Daddy and help him. I found myself in tears as I drove, not because we were losing Grandpa, but because of the difficult time Daddy was having, caring for his dying father. I was overcome by how much I loved my father. Being somewhat of an analytical type, I couldn’t help but reflect and ask myself why I love him so much. The voice inside me had no doubt: it was simply because he loved me. Daddy has always loved me, even when I messed up and did stupid things. It was like a spotlight shining on God’s truth; this was how God designed it to be. This is supposed to be a relationship that helps us to understand God the Father and His love for us.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1
What is difficult to comprehend, is that this relationship is a mere shadow, a simple reflection, of the relationship with our Heavenly Father. For those who are not blessed with a good relationship with their earthly father, this is an encouragement and a hope: there is a Father who loves perfectly. For those of us blessed with Christian fathers who love us well, we must remember that this is meant to draw us to our Heavenly Father. Our response: love.