I did not get to dance with my dad at my wedding.
But this is not a sad story.
In many ways, sin stole my dance from me.
My dad was a heroin addict, infected with Hepatitis C from a dirty needle, and died of three forms of cancer when I was 18. Though he died sober, clean, and in love with Jesus, the repercussions of the sin in his own life, and the ripple effect of his choices eventually took their toll. I deeply mourned the loss of my father, the reality of a fatherless life, and the future thought of a wedding without a father-daughter dance.
But this is not sad story.
One of my dad’s prayers during the last days of his life was that I would never be fatherless. It would seem his prayers were left unanswered, that one afternoon in March I ran into his room to find him lifeless and cold. It seemed as if my hope—my dance, had been lost forever.
Certainly, I lost hope for too long of time. I tried to find solace in alcohol, men, status, and image.
People told me it was normal—that I was a victim of a fatherless generation.
Eventually I grew tired of the girl in my mirror half-living. I started to seek the Father—the ultimate Father, desperate for a life far better than this. Slowly but surely, I found a Hope, a Love, and a Security I had never known. I stopped how I was living. I called out to Him. Indeed, He came to my rescue. I latched onto Him with every piece of me. I chose to change my life around.
I told you—this is not a sad story.
For the next few years of my life, dozens of men, pastors, and mentors came alongside of me in the absolute most pivotal seasons, and became like fathers to me. I met them on different sides of the country, in different situations, and for different reasons. Many great men, along with their wives & children, accepted me into their families as their own, believed in me, advocated for me, challenged me, and gave me a second chance at a childhood, a second chance to be seen through a father’s eyes.
What is crazy is that none of these men were raised with perfect examples of Godly fathers in their own lives—so how did this come about? How did they become such great men? At one point in their lives, they too sought the ultimate Father. At one point, they made a decision to be different than the examples they were given. At one point, they were such great men, that when a fatherless, homeless poet came across them, she felt the love of the ultimate Father undoubtedly bursting straight through them, and chose them to fill the gaps the Enemy had stolen. Because God was so strongly inside of them, they became like His hands and feet, His mouthpiece, His reflection, protecting, loving, and encouraging this fatherless girl.
We too can make the choice they made. We can be what no one ever was to us. We can change patterns around. We can seek the Father, love people like Him, and be the examples the world needs to see of redeeming, forgiving, never-quitting love.
Years later, I married an incredible man.
At our wedding, four fathers danced with me—Sean, Mark, Chris, & Yeshua—all men who at different points played major roles in my life. As they each spun me around the dance floor, it was like God’s own hands and feet were sweeping me away. As the music played, it was if God’s own voice were singing, “You are not alone.” I had never seen redemption clearer. My dad’s prayers were answered. I was not fatherless. I had sought the Father. And though I had wandered for quite some time, I eventually found my way back to the dance floor.
For many of us, sin has stolen our dance.
Our mother left us. Our boyfriend cheated on us. Our purity was stolen from us. Our dad was an alcoholic. Our best friend was a liar. We’ve been told we’re not good enough. We’ve been told we’re not pretty enough. We’ve been told we’re not strong enough.
Satan has been lying to us, stealing from us, and trying to destroy us from the ground up. He likes that we think we are a fatherless generation. He likes that we think there is no hope in the world. He likes that we think that we are products of the sin in our lives, the victims of the sins of our families, the outcomes of the sin in our world.
And yet, God says the opposite.
In words God breathed, King David writes,
“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
This is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.”
If we let Him in, God will redeem what Satan has snatched from us. He will be the Father we don’t have. He will be the Best Friend we lost. He will provide for us a home, a family, a freedom, and an ultimate, eternal, exuberant joy. He will out-do what the world has done. He will bring healing to our brokenness. He will give us unwavering victory.
So no, this is not a sad story. But what kind of story is it then? How does it end?
It ends with the choices we make. Are we going to be better than the examples that came before us? Are we going to wholeheartedly seek the ultimate Father, strive to look like Him, love others like Him, and choose to be the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, the brothers, the teachers, and the mentors we never had? Are we going to choose to reclaim what sin has stolen? Are we going to start a new ripple effect of love, kindness, and compassion for the generations to follow us? Who will we choose to be?
After I danced with these four amazing dads, I danced with my awesome brother-in-law, Adonis, and then ended my dance with my little brother, Elijah. Elijah was 12 when we lost our father. He was the first one to grab on to me and hold me when I fell to my knees, finding out about our daddy, and he was the last one spinning me on the dance floor that beautiful wedding day. Elijah is now a leader in our family’s ministry, works in retail, and is a basketball coach to inner-city boys. The love of God is strongly alive in him. When I asked him why he’s so passionate about coaching, he answered me, “None of those boys will grow up and say they didn’t have a man in their life cheering them on. I will be there. Coach Elijah will be there.”
We can choose to turn this cycle around.
I refuse to be called “a fatherless generation.” My Father is here. My Father is available. My Father restores broken lives.
Through my Father, I reclaim the dance that sin had stolen.
My Father—His song plays on. We can choose to dance again.