Monday, June 22, 2015

About Daughters & Dads & Men Who Stand in the Gap

When the new bride steps onto the dance floor with her dad, it’s the dance that gets me every time.

The music rises sweet and slow like an alleluia anthem, encompassing the full span of emotion which has been gathered through countless sleepless nights and a myriad of toddler tirades, right  along with belly laughter and the sheer joy which accompany the demands of raising a squalling infant girl into a tearfully beautiful woman. And this song is like the last verse sang before she is handed into the arms of another man.

It makes mascara run unapologetically down my face, because dads and daughters are subjects very sacred to my heart.

One of the most re-defining moments in life happened the morning I rocked my newborn and one year old daughters in the creaky bentwood rocker, as we waited for the first responders to arrive. The accident which claimed their dad's life had already forever changed how I viewed –well– just about everything. And in those first moments, entering a lifetime of unknowns, I cried out to God about who would walk my daughters down the aisle.

Never mind, who would steady the littlest as she took her first steps, or who would help either of them learn how to count to 10 or how we would even buy the next groceries.

No, in true fashion, I skipped right past the today-of-life and rushed on ahead to the day when it would all culminate, the raising of these girls, and the handing them off whole to the next man who would hold their heart.

I just wanted to know how that could even happen without a dad.

It’s well documented that solo parenting is tough. You become the sole provider, bandage applier, lunch preparer, problem-solver, disciplinarian, house cleaner and even more importantly, the single emotional piece of stability in the childrens lives.  

The raising of these girls seemed impossible, and forever long, and over in a moment. And I can testify that when children get married there are many unplanned emotions. But the daddy-daughter dance? 

Well, it’s sorta like climbing on the world’s largest emotional roller-coaster where the thrill and the terror of life lived and loss survived finally arrive at an abrupt heart pounding culmination.

JQ deserved to have more than one daddy-daughter dance as he gave those girls away.  I wrote about him here. He stepped right past the brokenness of my heart the first time he asked me to dance. And he really did surprise me with how well he loved me right where I was and these blonde haired girls as if they were his very own. He deserves a Dad of the Year Award, but dodges the spotlight like it’s his job. 

But before our hearts were ready for that man, there were years -- our most vulnerable times -- when God brought men who were courageous enough to protect us in a million little-big ways. Certainly I don’t recall every act of grace that was shown to us, but, I can tell you it mattered how people saw us in the shattered pieces and loved us when there was nothing they would receive in return.  

We needed men to be real men in our lives. We needed protectors and providers.  Men who would have eyes to see and hearts to be advocates for us.

Is it too late to say thank you to all the men who stepped up to be a part of the whole process of growing kids up?  One thousand thank yous to all the servant-hearted men who did not take advantage of us or ignore us or think it was too messy. Thank you to all who looked past what you thought it should look like and allowed me time to move forward, even though I didn’t steward all of those opportunities well.

Thank you to the men, true friends, who cried with us. The ones who stayed up half the night putting together Barbie’s house that came with no instructions or nuts and bolts so little girls would have a Christmas when they woke up. Thank you for the furniture you moved and the bikes you assembled, and for the flat tires you fixed and the skinned knees you awkwardly kissed.

Thank you for negotiating the deal for a reliable car and for going into the spider infested crawl space to fix a broken pipe and in through the small dark space to see how much insulation was in the attic before winter.

Thank you for every hug and every kiss and every wild horsey ride on the carpet. 

It mattered.

It was important that you were part of the pain and the process and all the phases. Thank you for not wondering how tall you stood when you bent low to wipe runny noses and button coats.

Thank you for praying for us and letting us fail and being there still when we got up to try again.

You men were our safety net.

Thank you to those who didn’t tell me how wrong I was doing it and for not abandoning us in the darkest of days.

You got it. That life is a daily battle and that people just need someone to jump start a car or scoop the snow off the sidewalk.

Because love does stuff.

Love makes you walk across the street to help that person.

It makes you sign up to mentor at the school with a high ratio of single parent families.

Love makes you want to love children who need the influence that only you can give.

Love makes you do unsafe things, because to help the hurting you have to get close enough to be hurt yourself.

Thank you for being just that. 

It’s a daily battle for so many. One in three children are living in homes without their dad. Children all around us need men (and women) to be the advocates in their lives, day after day after day.

Children need someone to speak a bigger truth than they currently believe about themselves.

Thank you for helping us find purpose and structure in a time when there were no easy answers. There were so many good men, doing what may have seemed like simple acts of kindness, but each grace made up the whole through the pieces. 

Many of you men weren’t there for the daddy-daughter dance, but I can tell you, it mattered what you did leading up to that moment.

Most every time there is a wedding it reminds me of all those who God used in our lives.

God the Father is the ultimate Provider and Advocate, but He has a way of using the most unlikely people and improbable things to change the whole rhythm of someone's life.

Happy Fathers Day to you all.


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© Rhonda Quaney