“How do you love God, the Father, when your only experience with a father has been anything but righteous or right?”
My biological father, who should have protected me, groomed, brainwashed, and abused me. I became his child-bride, and for over a decade, I was under his control: mind, body, and soul. I still remember how he made me “marry him” in a promise covenant before God. Initially, the promise was to last until I was seventeen, however, as I found out, breaking free was not going to be easy. By seventeen, I was ready for freedom, but he would not allow it, using tactics that were anything but loving. I was forced to continue being sexually abused for four more years.
Fast forward three years. I’d had a child, married my college sweetheart, had a second child, and was living in Europe. Although I knew God and believed in Him, I didn’t really understand how to properly view Him as my heavenly father…the fatherly example I had made it hard for God to connect with me. I had walls up unaware of how to let them down, or a desire to do so.
God knew He would have to intervene for true healing to take place in my life. In a pure God move, I connected with, Herb and April Adkins, a Christian couple that I attended church with while in Europe. They were the coordinators for a women’s conference that was to take place nearby in early 2012. I needed change, was tired of being tormented by my past and felt the women’s conference would be just the thing.
On the last night of the three-day conference, at about 12:30am, while sitting at a table eating Hawaiian pizza, Herb said God had revealed that I would be one of his spiritual daughters. Though I wasn’t sure what to think of it at the time, his words resonated with me. The following day, with tears in my eyes, I told him, in front of his wife, that I received his words as truth. I was going to have a second chance at this father thing.
I was going to have a real father. Wait! What?? What does that even mean?
After returning home, I told my husband about everything that happened, including the words spoken by Herb. To my surprise, he was excited for me. I then proceeded to ask my husband questions, with all sincerity. “How does this work?” “How do you have a father?” “What does the relationship look like?” After much prayer, and with overwhelming anxiousness, I allowed God to show me, through Herb Adkins, what it was like to have a real father.
The blessed thing about all of this…there was an instant God connection. Over the next few months, Herb and I talked via phone, text, Facebook messenger, at church, and via hand written notes. He and his wife, April, invited my family to be a part of their family. They even went so far as to discuss an adult adoption (that’s a real thing) to make our family bond official. Our families grew closer and closer, to the point where newcomers in the area didn’t know that we were not blood-related. My children looked forward to seeing their Granddad and Nana April, Josh was happy to have some wisdom talks with his father-in-love, and I was ecstatic that I actually had a father, on this side of heaven.
God was showing me that He did love me, He had not forgotten me, and He would restore what the enemy took from me. He allowed me to experience the love of an earthly father, which caused me to be more open to God’s fatherly love and affection toward me.
It has now been more than five years since God placed Herb in my life, and our genuine, Godly father-daughter relationship has only grown stronger. I refer to him as Dad, not Herb, not spiritual father…affectionately, sincerely, Dad. Why? Because that’s who he is to me. In five short years, he has shown me more about Godly, fatherly love than I had previously learned in all my prior years. I have God to thank for that. Dad, along with Mama April, considers me to be one of their own, no different from their biological children, and it’s a beautiful thing.
God gave me beauty for ashes. Because I finally understood what it meant to have a real father, and what that love was to look like, I was able to open up to God, my Heavenly Father, and develop a closer, more genuine relationship with Him, the One who loves me unconditionally.
So, how do you love God the Father when your only experience with a father has been anything but righteous or right? For me, it was nearly impossible, but because God loved me so much, He extended grace and mercy and provided another, Herb, who showed me what a father’s love looked like, enabling me to truly accept and embrace my Heavenly Father’s love, and open the door to true healing, peace, and joy.