(My dad and I: June 17th, 2012)
Be her hero, they say. Every princess needs one. Our culture centers around this idea that every little girl needs a hero daddy. The perfect dad is the one that saves his little girl from all harm, who never fails her, who protects her, who fights for her, who wards off boys, and makes her feel beautiful. He tells her she can have the world and everything in it; that she is such a magnificent being that nothing could ever compare to who and what she is. He tells her she’s worth diamonds and then some. He tells her no one could ever be good enough for his little princess. That’s the dad every girl dreams for, because they are told by our society that their dad is supposed to be their hero. The thing is, society is wrong (that’s shocking, isn’t it?).
My dad has yelled at me. He has insulted me. He has discouraged me. He has ignored me at times. He has offended me. He has put the importance of his job over the importance of me in some moments. He has placed more importance on a phone call than spending time with me. He has valued sleep over coming to see me in a drama on a Sunday morning. My dad has failed me during crucial moments in my life. He has not always been there to save me. He has not always let me go where I want and do what I want. He has been strict at times. He never let me go out with boys or be in a relationship as a teenage girl.There are times when I would go to him asking him to right a wrong done to me by a sibling, and, instead, he disciplined me. Sometimes, he was the reason I cried.
My dad is not my hero. He's never claimed to be a hero, either. He doesn't pretend to be perfect and, to be honest, makes sure I know he isn't. Sometimes, he seems more like the bad guy than the good guy. He expects so much of me it seems utterly impossible to achieve who he wants me to be. Often I am left discouraged and disappointed that I’m not everything he asks of me.
Here is what my dad understands that much of the world does not: He was never meant to be my hero. He was meant to be my dad. He was meant to lead me, to guide me, to do (to the best of his abilities) everything God asked of him. He was to train me up in the way I should go, so when I was old I would not depart from it. He was never meant to save me. He was meant to show me how to be saved. Only Jesus can save me. My dad knew that from the beginning. He never expected to be my hero. Only to be the best father he was able to be. My father didn’t save me from anything. He knew that God had a plan for me and in every moment that I cried for help or I went to him asking him to tell me what to do or how to act, he reminded me of that.
For every time he yelled at me, he apologized and showed me what it meant to humble yourself in repentance. For every insult, he reminded me of my strengths (and apologized and showed me what it meant to humble yourself). In the times that he ignored me, he spent time calming down so he wouldn’t yell at me or offend me. He spent time forgiving me because I had wronged him. Even though I hadn’t asked for forgiveness. He has failed me during crucial points in my life, but he has taught me to be strong and depend on the strength of Christ, not the strength of my dad. He hasn’t always been there to save me and has failed at times when he’s tried, but he trusted that he didn’t need to do the saving. He knew his power was in Christ, not in himself. He hasn’t always let me do what I want to or go where I want to, but he has taught me that I am not the most important being in this world; that other people always come before yourself. He has disciplined me when I wanted him to discipline my siblings because he wanted me to understand that, in order to be the best person I can be, I have to see my wrongs before I lash out at the wrongs of another. Sometimes he’s the reason I cry, but sometimes I’m the reason he cries.
My dad has taught me to be compassionate and loving. To accept all people and to reach for the best version of who I am. He has taught me to work hard and play harder. He has instilled in me a love for people so deep that it doesn’t end or wear out. He never told me that I was too good for any man, instead, he taught me how to be a better woman. He taught me how to know what a good man is. He taught me that by showing me who he is.
My dad is not my hero. He doesn’t ask to be my hero. He doesn’t expect it. He is a good man- a great man- who taught me what it means to be a great person. I respect him more than any other human on this earth. I’m not his princess. I never was. To him I am so much more than that. I am his daughter. And he, my dad.