I once had a dream that I was visiting my dad in Los Angeles. He was working at a corner store for some reason and I was on my way to pick him up so we could walk home right after his shift. When I walked into the store an elderly asian woman, who I assumed was the owner of the store, was yelling at my dad in one of the aisles. I moved in closer to see what was going on and I saw that he was placing rotten produce on the shelves. I didn’t understand why he was putting bad produce on the shelves but my dad seemed fine with what he was doing.

When his shift was over we began our long walk home. Along the way my dad would stop by different houses to visit his friends. I could never go inside with him as he kept telling me to wait outside because he wasn’t going to be long. As we continued our walk home a little girl suddenly appeared behind me and grabbed my hand as we continued through the neighborhood. I felt the need to protect this little girl and so I held onto her hand to make sure she didn’t fall behind.

As the sun went down my dad started to walk faster and further away from us. We could hardly keep up with him and eventually lost sight of him altogether. As we approached an intersection it suddenly became night and my dad and the little girl was nowhere to be found.  I turned down every street looking to see if they were somewhere in the distance but no one was on the street and I was alone. I found an abandoned home nearby and went inside to make my way towards the roof for a better view of the neighborhood. There was still no sign of my father but the little girl showed up again. I found her in the window below looking up at me. 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. 

Suddenly a group of people dressed in white clothing appeared and so did a group of people dressed in black. Those that were dressed in white began shooting and stabbing the people in black. Dead bodies were laying everywhere. The little girl ran ahead while I laid on the ground pretending to be dead. One of the white 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. 

I got up and ran quickly to catch up with the little girl who I found standing at the entrance of a movie theater. When I approached the entrance to the theater I saw Jesus greeting people at the door. The light from the movie screen inside shined so brightly through the doorway that it hid his face. I was in awe of him. He ushered us in the theater to find a seat. Walking down the aisle I saw my dad sitting down enjoying the show as if he didn’t leave us behind in the dark just moments ago. I wondered how or even why he was there. I decided to leave it alone and put my focus on the little girl who I found in the front rows ahead of him. She was sitting next to a group of elderly women who smiled at the both of us when I sat down. With a loving smile they said that we were beautiful. We smiled at each other and turned to the screen.  We were finally safe. 

My dad is a good person. He just wasn’t a good dad. He was selfish and often an irresponsible parent. 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 then he sets the archetype of how we are supposed to be treated and respected by other men.  

Growing up I needed my father to protect me. I needed my father to be there to tell me I was still beautiful even when kids made fun of me in school. I needed him to threaten my boyfriends. I needed his assurance that I could conquer the world. My dad, however, couldn’t be what I wanted him to be. 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 a lot family members on my mom’s side had passed away, my fraternal grandparents passed away, and I went through many spiritual growing pains in those six years. Through those growing pains I realized that life is too short to hold anger in your heart. It was affecting my life I had to let it go. 

I have since renewed my relationship with my dad. One of the things God asks us to do is take care of our parents when they are old. If Jesus can forgive then so can I. The road to forgiveness is a long one but it is worth it in order to preserve your mental health and allow yourself to grow from pain.