Finding Fatherly Love Amidst Heartache
BY: PEYTON JADE GOTTSCHALK
When I first thought of what it means to experience heartbreak, my mind was clouded with memories of crying in my room alone for weeks on end after a breakup in my early teen years. I would binge watch a show and refuse to eat anything but bags of popcorn as a sort of “fast” to mend my brokenness. I would sit and try to comfort myself. I would shut people out and cope on my own, feeling like the world was ending because some boy told me I wasn’t worthy of his forever. Again.
I thought about the on-again-off-again relationship I told myself I deserved for nearly six years..
There were little “band-aids” I would plaster on over my hurt and Tumblr quotes I’d scribble all over my belongings to remind me everyone goes through these things — that heartbreak is normal and breakups are painful.
While these situations marked me, shaped me and made me question where God fit in amongst all the hurt, a different source of heartache stands in the forefront of my mind.
This heartache comes from feeling fatherless.
When I was a little girl, my dad had a wife who hurt me deeply with piercing words of my worthlessness for years. Even though I only spent a few months with her each year as I was growing up, she had one of the greatest impacts on my heart and self-image as a child. She hurt my heart deeply. She convinced me I was lacking value — that I would never be as good as her daughter, that I was a liar and a waste of space. Each day my dad would leave for work in the summer, I felt abandoned. I felt left behind. All I could see was my dad leaving to escape to his work, while I was left at home to be verbally put down for hours on end by the woman he chose as his wife — the woman I felt forced to call “stepmom.”
I blamed my parents divorce on my existence and I assumed it was best for my dad that he only had to see me in the summer or Christmas. From the time I was a toddler to the time they separated when I was in the third grade, I knew I had an earthly father but I didn’t feel like I had a protector. I felt anything but chosen. I felt the ache of an orphaned child in this area.
I looked to the people around me for the attention I felt I was lacking. I let other people put me down. I felt I deserved to be bullied by girls at school. I truly believed there was no way my voids could be filled and I was the furthest from being important to my dad.
Then God stepped in. HE adopted me.
My heart was forever changed and the lies of being fatherless were all conquered by the truth when I was around the age of 15. I remember a specific instance, in the winter of sophomore year of high school, when I was weeping on the floor of my bathroom. I had just come to know the Lord for who He was and not who I had made myself believe He was all my life. He swept me up into His arms, or at least it felt like it. He whispered to me, “ Peyton, you are not alone. I am with you. I was with you in the darkest moments of your childhood. I stood by you in all those moments you felt no one was there to protect you. You just chose to quiet my voice. BUT now you have allowed yourself to hear me and I will never be quieted in your life again. I will always be with you.”
That’s all it took for me. I finally felt the Father’s love, the kind of love I always longed for but never knew I had access to. I felt known. I heard His declaration of adoption over me and I allowed myself to become His daughter, a daughter of the Prince of Peace.
While aches are still so real and my heart needs much healing in a lot of areas, I now deal with heartache with an all-knowing, supernatural, present father on my side. Heartache is so much easier to endure when I know the Lord is carrying this weight with me — that I am not alone.
I struggle in the valleys of life with a Father who carries me. I reach mountaintops with a Father who holds my hand and celebrates with me. There is nothing more freeing than learning how valued I am by the Lord, that I am His daughter and I will never buy the lies that I was unworthy of being an earthly daughter. I am worthy because He says I am.
Peyton is a freelance journalist who strides through every day with a little coffee and a lot of Jesus. If she’s not scribbling away in a journal at a corner café she is probably watercolor painting, baking pastries or exploring new hobbies.