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FEATURE STORY

I was always a dutiful daughter, I suppose.  I had rules in the house that I had to follow regarding what I wore, where I went, and even activities I participated in.  My dad, like lots of fathers, had standards that were not understandable to me…but I tried to obey.  I remember as a teen feeling the oppression of obedience to these rules and standards and finding my way around them, even deceiving my parents, because of the frustration I felt with the rules. 

One particular memory I have is being in the dance team in high school for three years, and in the third year there was a special performance I had worked on with a small group, and it was the night before the show.  I don’t know if my dad hadn’t ever noticed our costumes before or what, but he saw what was I was wearing (a leather jacket) and pulled me from the performance.  I was embarrassed, didn’t understand, let the other girls down, and felt ashamed.

Dad parented me the way he was parented, I’m sure.  He told me of a time when he was  seven and  walked to  get the mail and encountered a snake 

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on the path.  But rather than telling his dad there was a snake, he lied and said there was no mail.  He was afraid of his father’s wrath or accusation of being a coward.  So I can’t fault my dad for doing what he thought was best.

But that dutifulness followed me into adulthood in my relationship with God.  I read my bible, kept it in a visible place, attended church, volunteered my time and served, and all the things. However, I was afraid if I didn’t do these things, God would be very disappointed in me. 

 

Dutifulness without joy is not a fun way to live, at all. 

Still to this day, there are times when I default back to that little girl that tries to avoid the displeasing look from her father as she navigates this world.  It happens when I’m tired or off guard, or just because we live in a world that crushes us on some days…

This morning I woke up feeling like a failure in all I’ve done in life.  It seems that as we age we evaluate a lot more of the past…what we’ve done, accomplished, given or succeeded at…and we feel as though we’ve come up short.  This is the way I felt.  I had said some harsh words to someone and that sent me spiraling to thinking of how I could have done better in all the jobs I’ve had, how I could have served with a purer heart when giving to others, and how I could have trusted God more instead of trying to control things myself.  I fell into unworthiness.

All of a sudden, I was a teenager again, sitting on my bed, feeling disdain from my father and seeing a shaking finger at me for the way I spend my time, my efforts, the way I treat my husband and others, the way I trust and then don’t trust…and I woke up and went into my little secret place (a comfy chair in a guest bedroom) and I cried…buckets of tears.  Because I wanted to right all my wrongs.

While I was pouring out my heart to Him in tears (much like David’s laments I’d been reading in the psalms), I recalled a verse from Micah 6:8.  You probably know it, too.  He has shown you on man what is good…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  It eased my heart and broke my failure chains, because it wasn’t anything I actually DO, but rather my heart.  It’s the same with the big commandment in the New Testament to love Him with all my heart and others as myself.  It’s not a list of how I spend my waking hours, or if I perform perfectly on every daily test of faith and strength, but it’s how I relate to my Creator and how I relate to others in the attitude and service of my heart – which then outflows in a multitude of ways. And those things have been emerging in my life, not because of my lists of duties I’ve performed, but because of HIS mercy towards me.

I can’t tell you how that washed over me like cool water on a hot summer day, being splashed on my face and waking me up from the tiring work of the daily grind.  It was refreshing and it was what I needed to hear from my Father.

Maybe your relationship with the Father is secure and intact and you don’t have this type of anxiety, but perhaps you deal with other father-related issues regarding performance, disappointment, a strong upper hand, etc.  Or maybe you had no issues with your father, but your struggle is with some other daily onslaught in the corners of your mind (do our minds even have corners?)

This Father’s Day, I hope you find the time to sit and pour out your heart with what troubles you, then sit and listen to what He’s pleased with, about you.  I loved my dad fiercely, and I know he loved me, and I know he did the best he could, and part of my response was my own insecurities.  So I no longer blame him, at all.  But because when I’m weak, I sometimes fall, I’m thankful that my Father always listens, speaks, and send me on my way with a pat on the head to go play, enjoy life, as he smiles and watches me with pride at the daughter he loves so much.

ANY THOUGHTS TO ADD?  DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OTHERS STORIES FROM THE COVER. 

Dutiful Daughter
by Marcy Lytle
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