Shifting Your Focus From the Bad to the Good
Abraham Lincoln said, “Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.” And while it is often easier to see the bad in people, my goal is to encourage each of us in every relationship – but especially with our fathers – to look for the silver lining, the rainbow. . . the little victories with big impact.
How We Win the War
We win the war by winning little victories. If we add up all the little victories in our lives, we may see that, in our own special way, they have made big impacts and we ultimately have won.
I know my father. I know his name, his address, and his telephone number, though I am very hesitant to use it. It wasn’t until I began attending a Bible college, surrounded by young white evangelical friends and classmates that I realized that most of my peers knew their father’s favorite food, favorite color or favorite sports team. And I did not. I realized at that point that my norm was not the norm. I grew up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, went to predominantly African-American schools, and a church with a predominantly African-American congregation where single-parent households were not rare at all. My freshman year of college my thinking began to shift. The way I saw my parents’ relationship, and especially the role my father played, took a turn.
Lamenting My Father’s Absence
I spent much of that year and the next lamenting my father’s absence. He struggled with multiple cancers for years and his recovery was intense and required several extended hospital stays. And while that was the excuse he gave for many years, it no longer satisfied me.
I grieved the realization that dads were supposed to be present and accounted for and mine was not. I grieved the realization that dads were supposed to answer the phone and give advice and mine did not. I grieved the realization that dads were supposed to pack up their daughters’ belongings and bring them to college and mine did not. Years later, I continued grieving. Dads were supposed to proudly sit in the front row at their daughters’ initial sermon and mine did not. They were supposed to give boy advice. They were supposed to help with new apartments. And mine did not.
Impactful Validations From My Father
But, there were some things he did do. I’ll never forget the day of my Senior Prom in May
of 2011. I had spent the entire day, like most girls, getting my hair, nails, and makeup done. Months before I had picked out the perfect dress, a burgundy ball gown much like the dress my oldest sister Kristen wore to her prom. This dress was accompanied by the perfect silver shoes and gorgeous accessories I borrowed from my English teacher. I was ready to be the ‘Belle of the ball.’ I was dressed and just about ready for my date to arrive. The truck I heard didn’t belong to my date. To my surprise, my dad came to see me off to prom. I didn’t even know that he knew what day it was. We stood outside, we took pictures, He told me I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. I felt special. I felt beautiful. I had never heard those words from him. And even though Daddy missed a lot of important days, he was with me on that day! And I will always have these beautiful pictures we took. And that memory we made.
The Little Victories
While I offer no excuses or justification for my dad’s absence, I do realize that I have something that many others do not have. I have his name. At least I know who he is. At least I have been afforded the opportunity to build strong relationships with his sisters and cousins, creating a support system that reaches across the United States. And while I often long for more of a closeness with him, the little victories are that I know him at all, he came around sometimes, and he loves me in his own special way.
Special thanks to Ricki Blakeney for “Little Victories, Big Impact.” Ricki is an or ordained minister and Say That, Girl! guest blogger who enjoys reading, sewing, singing and spending time with loved ones.
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