My Effort

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There are some things that we do that don't make as much sense as we think they do. One of those things caused me a lot of concerned and frustration for years. Since I was a little girl I wanted to have a father. I wanted a father who would invest time with me, play games, and take me on a picnic so we can eat together and so on. Someone who would love me and have some sort a relationship with me-that is want I wanted.

I did have a dad though; he was the guy who lived in the house. He was busy or otherwise occupied a lot of the time. He might not have been all bad, but things where not all that good either. He could be creepy at times and was rather unpredictable. He used to hold me over the stair case and pretend he would drop me for fun and it didn't even occur to me this is might not be normal behavior for fathers but that is another story...

Anyway, as I got older, one day he just left and I had not heard from him for a long time. But the strange thing was the biggest adjustment I had to make was how many plates to put on the table because emotionally he wasn't there anyway. After about a year when I did see him with his girlfriend and her daughter and he said I was not his daughter she was-although the girl he was referring to was not biologically his. So instead of just wanting a father who was better I decided I should just invest effort in getting another one. Getting another father? Well, if you have any sense or are "normal" you may doubt that you can, or maybe not.

To me, however, this seemed logical. Since men are fathers and fathers are men I thought any random man I saw could be my father; it was only a matter of convincing. After all, if my parent can just decide not to be my father at will and pick some random girl who wasn't even biological to be his daughter instead, why can't I convince any random man to decide be my father? And since my father wasn't involved, almost any man seemed qualified because almost anyone seemed to do a better job. In fact, when I was younger I even told my mom my cat was the best father to me, and that cat seemed kind of crazy. If I didn't beg her to keep it, it may have been put down for biting me. So I clearly didn't know better.

I went through life thinking convincing a random man to be my father was possible if I worked hard at being good enough and I had no reason to think otherwise. This, needless to say, isn't a safe endeavor. I have met enough perverts along the way but I still didn't understand why it didn't work. I thought my Rabbi could be my father and he was nice and tried to explain the difference but I didn't understand his logic because at the root of the problem I didn't really know what a father even was. And I became rather frustrated in time and even angry at God because I didn't understand why my plan wouldn't work as well as I thought it should. I told an older Jewish lady, "But it is upsetting that my effort doesn't seem to do anything, and other girls don't have to work at all and they just have a father."

She told me, "Your effort will never do anything because your effort can't contribute to this... Babies, children, grown women-no one works at having a father- fathers work at being fathers. If you can just get a hold of this your life will turn around. If you keep putting blackberries into a pie and are angry and frustrated why it won't be pumpkin and you keep asking the blackberry pie to be pumpkin and keep asking me why it won't be pumpkin it is the same kind of thing. I know it was not all your dad but he broke the egg...so to speak and your life has been a mess ever since. Every perpetrator wants to eat the egg. You filter your whole life through this and you are constantly in a reverse spin...but I love you and I hope and pray you can take this truth to your heart and be healed."

It is at this point that for the first time it occurred to me how backwards my thinking was. Having a father isn't really about my works, it was someone else's choice. It seemed very strange but it is true. As I thought of it I questioned how my confusion may have affected my relationship with God. Could we foolishly end up wasting years thinking being accepted by God is simply a matter of our own effort when God already put all the effort into loving us? "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'"Jeremiah 31:3. Since God has already put in the effort we just need to accept it.

"They say to wood, 'You are my father,' and to stone, 'You gave me birth.' They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, 'Come and save us!''" Jeremiah 2:27. This is how I was treating God. I wanted a good family and I was trying to make replacements of what I lacked to fulfill my needs and doing a rather poor job at it while all along "A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation." Psalm 68:5. Where are you placing your effort? It is possible to be putting effort into having something that is good yet still be going about it in the wrong way. Take some time to question yourself and think about what you are doing. Are you giving all of your needs to God or are you only trusting God for some things and trying to meet some of your needs yourself? It is not wrong to have people in your life but it is wrong to use them to replace God.

Picture originally found here

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