The phone rang on a Sunday morning as I was nursing my middle son before we all got ready for church.
The voice on the other side seemed hesitant. As her words began to flow, I recognized the twist and curl of that comforting drawl; it sounded familiar and felt like home. “Hey, Kennesha, this is Lucille [my mama’s BFF]. I am calling you ‘cause you’ll never guess who called me today.”
“My dad.” In my head it was a question, but it came out of my mouth as more of a statement. Something my heart already knew as it forced my lips to speak the truth.
“He wants you to call him but understands if you need time.”
I’d played this scenario over and over again in my head since I was a kid. I’d imagined it a million different ways—except for this particular way. I was elated and angry at the same time. How presumptuous to think that I’d even want to talk to him or call him. How did he know who to get in touch with? And how in the world did he find the number to call? I had so many thoughts, so many questions.
I hung up the phone in shock and with a lump in my throat. I’d just had the conversation. Suddenly I was only one phone call away from hearing the voice I’d created in my head and the stories I’d long dreamt of hearing.
My mom had always been as open as she could about her relationship with my dad. I knew his name, where he was from, and where they’d lived when my mother was dating him and ultimately became pregnant with me. She did her best to answer her curious then-12-year-old daughter. She was open, honest, and kind, but there were still so many unanswered questions.
Years later in my senior year of college, I used some of that information as I prepared to get married. It was every girl’s dream, right? To have her father walk her down the aisle? Well, it was definitely mine. So, I put out ads in a local Oklahoma City newspaper (he’s from a small town just outside of OC and still lives there); I even had a private investigator offer to help, but we found nothing.
My uncle ended up walking me down the aisle. As much as I love him and as special as that moment was, I’d be lying if I said that part of me wasn’t sad to not have my dad by my side as I entered that new season of life.
I resolved that it wasn’t meant to be, and I made a vow to God that I would endeavor to know Him as my everything—my all. I’d seek Him to fulfill the cry of my heart, to understand what it was to have the nurturing, loving hand of a father—regardless of whether I ever had the opportunity to meet my birth father or not.
It took a few days, but I finally mustered up the courage to call my dad. I wish I could say that I remember every detail of that first conversation. I don’t.
What I do remember is the shock and disbelief I experienced as 32-year-old me sat and listened to this strangely familiar man tell me the story of his life as it intersected with my mother’s. I remember him sharing a very important detail that my mother, for whatever reason, had left out: he never knew I existed. Turns out my mother left him before he knew she was pregnant. She had her reasons. They were valid at the time. I can’t really say I blame her.
The conversation was surreal. I still don’t remember if I cried… I’m sure I did. I would never let him know that though.
Sometimes emotions are hard. The things we think we should feel are overshadowed by the feelings that have been marinating—waiting their turn to ‘speak the truth’. Sometimes those truths are louder than we’d like. That seemed the case for me on that day. Instead of falling to pieces over the call, I just listened to every word he said—every childhood memory, story, and moment I’d never heard. The manifestation of a promise long forgotten.
Since that day, my dad has been devoted to showing me that despite his previous absence his love and affection for me were undeterred and unconditional. There hasn’t been a day in the past eight years that he hasn’t texted or called. Not one.
I recall how I vowed to God, some 11 years prior to that moment, that I chose Him. I made a pact that, come what may, I would dedicate my life and my heart to knowing Him and allowing Him to bring me to a place of peace as it pertained to my father’s absence (not chosen by him) in my life.
When I consider this, I don’t see a coincidence. I see the beautiful parallel between the love of my “earthly father” and the love of my Creator, my Heavenly Father. I see my relentless pursuit of both on full display and feel gratitude for it all. To this day, my relationship with my father is one of the most tangible ways God has shown that He loves me and that He doesn’t break promises.
Is there something you’ve given up on but want to find hope for again?
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