I once had a dream that I visiting my dad in Los Angeles. I was walking through a random neighborhood when I found him working in a corner store owned by an elderly asian couple. When I walked in the asian woman was yelling at him because he was putting up rotten fruit on the shelves instead of fresh ones. When his shift was over we began walking around in another random neighborhood. My dad was going in and out of buildings talking to different people that he knew while I stood outside in the doorway and waited. Along the way a little girl tagged along with us as we wandered through the neighborhood. I felt the need to protect this little girl.
My dad was walking so fast and far in front of us that it was hard for me and the little girl to keep up. As we approached the corner I looked up and saw a street sign that only had the initials S.C. on it. Since we were in Los Angeles I assumed that meant South Central and we were lost because my dad didn’t live in South Central. Suddenly it became dark and I couldn’t find my father or the little girl. I quickly got onto a roof of an abandoned house to get a better look of where they might be. There was no sign of my father but the little girl showed up in the window right below the spot where I was sitting on the roof. She waved at me to let me know she was safe. I went down to get her, grabbed her hand, and continued to walk through the neighborhood. As we were walking a bunch of gang members in white clothing appeared and started killing people left and right with guns and knives. Dead bodies were laying everywhere. The little girl ran ahead while I laid on the ground pretending to be dead. One of the gang members stood over me to check to see if I was dead and then moved on. They then ran down a dark street and disappeared. Although I was frightened too death I believed they were actually there to protect me from the dark demons that I didn’t know were about to surround me.
I got up and ran quickly to catch up with the little girl who I found standing at the entrance of a movie theater. Surprisingly Jesus was there to greet us at the door. The light from the movie screen shined so bright through the doorway that it hid his face and I couldn’t see his features. I was in awe of him. He ushered us in the theater where I saw all kinds of people sitting in different rows watching the screen in front of them. I found the little girl in one of the rows and sat next to her. My dad was in the same row as well. I wondered how or even why he was there. I decided to put my focus on the little girl. She needed my protection. The little girl smiled at me and I smiled back. Two elderly women in the next row told me that I had a beautiful smile. I thank them and continued to smile at the little girl. She was finally safe.
My dad is a good person. He just wasn’t a good dad. He was selfish and often irresponsible as a parent. Although I’ve never had any severe daddy issues because my mother sheltered me as best she could, it still took a toll on my life. Mothers are strong and nurturing and loving but there is something about a little girl having her father around. He’s the other half of the puzzle. We learn how to be a woman from our mothers but we feel protected by our dads. We feel special and beautiful. If he’s a good man we learn what a good man is supposed to be and how we are to be treated and respected by other men.
Growing up my mom was everything to me. She was both the mom and the dad. She had to be. But for me there was always something missing. There was always that void, an absence of a father figure that I always needed. I needed my father to protect me. I needed my father to tell me that although I wore glasses and braces and was picked on everyday at school, I was still beautiful in his eyes. I needed him to teach me sports. There was a void. Seeing my dad only once a year was not filling that void. As I got older I began to resent him and dealing with his broken promises made me resent him even more. So one day, around 2011, I decided I was finally done with my dad’s selfishness and didn’t talk to him for six years.
In that span of time I’d lost a lot of friendships, family members had passed away, and I went through many spiritual growing pains. Through those growing pains I realized that you only get one dad(biological or otherwise) and you only get one mom. And although they may or may not have been great parents it is our obligation by God to forgive them and take care of them when they are old. Life is too short.
The road to forgiveness is a long one. It isn’t easy. I held on tightly to that resentment and disappointment until it consumed me. I had to let it go. When I finally released that bitterness and disappointment a heavy burden lifted off my shoulder. I could breath again and stand upright. And although my dad hasn’t changed (he’s just gotten older), I decided that I would revive our relationship anyway. I was over the pain and disappointment. I survived without the full support of my father and I came out a better woman. The burden had been lifted.
Looking back at this dream that I had in 2004 I now realized two things; One, that little girl that I protected was me and two, that Jesus loves me but he also loves my dad. He also loves everyone else who has hurt me. In the end everyone who believes in him is welcome into his movie theater, flaws and all. We must learn to forgive as he did in order to be free.