For example, when I would get a new dress or outfit, I would put it on and run to show my dad. My heart desired to hear him say: you look beautiful or don’t you look nice … some approving words. As a little girl he did respond with approval and I do remember that. Later when I wrote my first newspaper article, I brought it home to show him. It mattered to me as a child.
Now that I have my own children, I can see how important it is. After they draw any picture or finish a craft project, they will bring it to me and say ‘Look mom, look what I made!’
And no matter what the picture looks like, I give them words of praise and tell them what a good job they’ve done. The kids will often give us their picture or art projects as presents.
I thought as you grew up and reached adulthood that the desire to have your father say ‘Well done. I’m proud of you’ would go away – after all we are no longer children.
And so here I am 44 years old and to this day, I still yearn to hear my father’s approval.
I found that as I got older, it was harder to gain my father’s approval. Looking back, I can see that I disappointed him in many of the important life decisions I made. Instead of studying medicine to become a doctor, I studied journalism; instead of marrying some well-educated professional, I married a man with an 8th grade education; instead of pursuing a high-paying career in Wash DC, I quit my job and became a missionary; instead of living in the same town as my parents, I moved away overseas.
And finally, perhaps the biggest disappointment, I left the church denomination they raised me in.
I didn’t know how deeply I had hurt my parents until last year when I went home to live with them for 6 months. In one sad encounter after another, my father told me, how disappointed he was with me and the life I had chosen for myself.
Emotionally, it crushed me. I cried and cried and I realized that deep inside I was just like a little girl wanting her father’s approval.
I don’t want you to think that my parents don’t love me because I know they do. They have been very generous with me and have shown their love to me through many different ways. It’s just that for them it’s been hard to give approval.
I left America with great sorrow in my heart and something in my spirit felt broken. I could still hear my father’s words of disapproval and they were like knives that cut through my heart.
Receiving my Heavenly Father’s Blessing
I knew that I needed healing for my broken heart and no matter how many times I said the words, “Daddy, I forgive you for saying those words; for hurting me, for not understanding my life.” The pain was still there like a fog over my life.
I asked my closest friends to pray for me and when the pain continued, I asked for help. I found it with God’s people in England at Lox Lane farm, which is a retreat center.
I went there with the broken pieces of my heart and as we worshipped God every morning, I could feel His healing oil – the Holy Spirit being poured over my pain. And there among God’s people, who I could trust and who I knew loved me, I could lay my heart open.
Two of the leaders, an older married couple, prayed over me and spoke over me breaking the words of rejection and the lies that the enemy had spoken over me. Because even though I knew it was my father who spoke these words over me, I knew it was really the voice of the enemy using him.
So this married couple prayed over me saying something like, ‘As a father and mother in God’s family, we want you to know that you are deeply loved and accepted by your Heavenly Father. We’re proud of you and God is proud of you. He thinks you’re wonderful and He is so pleased with you. We break off any lies spoken over you. You are not a failure. You are a daughter of the King of kings and Jesus bled on the cross for you. You’ve been bought with a great price.”
And as they prayed these words over me, I could once again see through the fog of my pain and see my Heavenly Father and his great love for me. I also prayed asking God to forgive for judging my parents and asking my parents for forgiveness for any resentment I may have held unto.
It was a painful process but so healing because I could finally let the pain go from the depths of my heart with the help of the Holy Spirit.
That day, the Holy Spirit powerfully reminded me and helped to see with the eyes of my heart once again that my Heavenly Father loves me just as I am. I have His unconditional approval. A great peace flooded my heart and I finally felt free to live again.
Healing Takes Time
It’s been over a year since I was at Lox Lane. The week I spent there was so crucial for me, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to go there.
I wish I could say that I’m really ok today – that I don’t desire my father’s approval, his blessing over my life. The truth is that the desire hasn’t changed. I still long for it. But the difference is that the pain that had me bound is gone.
It was awkward talking on the phone with my parents once I moved back Czech, but God is healing our relationship. For my part, I’m learning to let go of the expectations I had of them – expectations such as them coming to visit me in Czech or saying the words, ‘I’m proud of you and of what you are doing.’ It’s ok because I know I have my Heavenly Father’s love and approval.
Practicing thankfulness has helped me to have our Heavenly Father’s perspective. Recently, different memories of my childhood came to the forefront and they’ve helped me to understand my father in a better way.
I know that deep inside my father doesn’t want to hurt me — that in all likelihood he is saying the words his father spoke over him. I remember the stories he told me of his father and they were sad stories of a father who did not know how to show love.
I look over my life and I can see how my parents tried their best to give me what they didn’t have. I’m learning to love them for who they are and as they are and there is great healing in that. Today, I can honor them in my heart and bless them and be thankful for all that they did do right.
So the journey continues and I learning to be the child my Heavenly Father created me to be.
Dear friend, I pray that you would know today how much you are loved by our Heavenly Father. He thinks you’re great. Maybe like me, you desire your earthly father’s approval and love. There is hope. The father you have always been looking is waiting for you with open arms. God’s word says:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
I pray that today you would open your heart to our Heavenly Father’s great love. You will find all that you are looking for in Him.