dad

Memories of My Father

I hear my friends talk about their fathers. They talk about their quirks and likes. How their dad always uses a certain type of pen and when they see that pen they think of him. They reflect on stories or mentos and karaoke, homecomings and weddings, projects and just being there. My anger at my father is quenched. I don’t feel a wrath towards him. If anything I feel a pity.

The more stories I hear the more I grieve the memories that never were. When you have someone in your life who makes it more difficult, your brain never keeps the good moments. You work so hard to dump the bad, that you drain everything out. You are left with tiny fractured pieces that didn’t find their way to the recycling bin. I know nothing sentimental of my father, that I can reflect on and smile about privately.

My ultimate hope is forgiveness and restoration. My family is not perfect. We are a bunch of people fighting our demons. Many of us have slain the dragon, but for some, the war persists.

Dear Dad, 

I hope you have not given up fighting. You don’t have to do it for me. I don’t need you to. Do it for the sake of freedom. Happy Father’s Day.

Your Daughter, 

Tosin

Advertisements

Do We Really Need Dads?

I try to write solely about my experiences and myself. I conscientiously do not talk about my family in immense detail, as I know people who know my family might read this blog. Today, I am writing about my dad, because it is 2:30 in the morning, and I have spent all week denying that Father’s Day is today. Moreover, for self-preservatory reasons, I need to divulge. If you are someone who is in Atlanta who knows my family, just pray for us. And if you do feel the need to comment please do so here. Do not ask for more details and feed your gossip demon. Recognize that when someone shares with you, you are experiencing a moment where someone who trusts you is being vulnerable. Do not be the wolf to this sheep, be a fellow sheep and if you can be a shepherd.

All holidays pertaining to my father, I do not celebrate. I do not wish him a Happy Birthday or acknowledge Father’s Day. As of recent, my father and I are consciously estranged. Now, I made this decision recently. I do not call him. I do not text him. I do not email him. He has minimal to no knowledge of what I do, where I am, or who I am. The distance between Houston and Atlanta is so great that it is easy to pretend he is not there. In order for some understanding to be had, you need to understand some things.

Around age 12, I realized my father had no interest in my life. Not only did he have a massive disinterest, but also in no way did he attempt to hide it from me. The only moments where he did show interest is when, I did something he could brag about to his peers. I remember having to beg him to come to recitals and concerts. Senior year of high school, I was nominated for homecoming court (which was a MASSIVE deal). Friday night, you are supposed to walk the field with your dad. Two Sundays before, my family is eating Chili’s, and I ask my dad if he could walk me down the football field at half time during the Homecoming Game. He looks up and effortlessly says no. If it were not for my mother’s intervention, I would have walked alone. Sadly, comparatively, this is not the worst thing he has done to me.

You would think as an adult that, I would be done with all of this…nope. Even in adulthood the ramification of my interactions with my father, affect me. God has healed so much of my brokenness; there is still much more to go.

Since, I was a child; I could see myself as a mother before a wife. I knew I wanted to adopt, but I did not know if I could handle marriage. Often my saying was, “I don’t need a man”. Having a husband antagonize me seemed more of a burden and less of a blessing. God used college to do some work on my heart towards men. He is still working on it now.

So to the question of “Do We Really Need Dads?” My answer is yes, but we need ones marked with humility and love for others more than self.

  1. We need dads because girls who do not have them are stunted in their development with men.
  2. We need dads because boys who do not have them are given many incorrect views of what manhood looks like.
  3. We need dads because God gave them a role in the family to fulfill.
  4. We need dads because moms and dads are meant to be partners in this journey.
  5. We need dads because…because…well, because we do.

One day, I will choose forgiveness; I will choose reconciliation; I will choose love. However, today is not the day.

Father, forgive me. Soften my heart.

Forgiveness…Even if You Don’t Love Me Anymore

“Forgiveness is not a feeling it is a purposeful decision” June Hunt

I remember reading those words for the first time on a rainy summer day on my bed during the summer of 2012. The last two years had been an unexpected development of my faith. Never had I felt love for Christ as passionately as then. It was a love so grand that it forced me to come face-to-face with a sinful foundation in my life: hate. As my love for my Father blossomed; a hate for my father bloomed. God is amazing, but He cannot co-occupy a heart still burdened with sin. With this in mind and knowing I would be leaving home in 3 months, I decided to find a book on forgiveness.

Those word pummeled me. Obviously, I burst into tears with this overwhelming revelation. If forgiveness was a decision, it meant I have to intentionally choose it. Feelings come passively. We choose our attitudes, which dictate our feelings. No one has to tell you to feel sad when a friend dies. No one reminds you to have joy on your wedding day. However, forgiveness is a choice. It was something over the course of reading that I chose. I chose to forgive my father. I am continually walking that out, but I continually choose to forgive him.

Most times, I don’t find it necessary to forgive someone as I don’t really think people offend me often. Even if they do, I know to some degree I have offended them as well. Yet, there are moments where I did not commit an offense. Nevertheless, I am still offended.

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17

“Bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28

With my life as it is, I have found it hard to forgive those who put me in this position. My life was interrupted in the rudest of disruptive of ways. I lost so much in a matter of hours. Bitterness, would be a justifiable carnal feeling to have and honestly, I have felt it. However, it is not Christlike. My bitterness does NOTHING, but thwart the will of God in my life. Far greater than that, I have begun to consider two scenarios. Humanity broke a utopian world that God had so intricately created. He sacrificed Himself as Jesus for our redemption. If He can forgive I can forgive, especially when I am slapped in the face with this block of truth found in Matthew 18:23-35 (NASB)

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

But, I also have referenced this scenario in my head as well.

He wakes up with a sick feeling in His stomach. He knows what the night will bring Him. He knows what is coming. He hears the men he has journeyed with for three years outside his tent. He exits and greets them. He sees Him off to the side. He knows what is coming. Boker tov Judas. Judas repeats these words to Jesus. They smile at one another, as Jesus knows in a matter of hours, Judas will betray Him. He will turn Him over to the Jewish and eventually Roman officials to endure an amount of human suffering unbearable to a mere mortal. This level of human suffering is beyond the physical and extends into the spiritual realm. And here they are walking as if nothing it going on. I love Judas. I was there when Judas was crafted. Father, forgive him; he does not know what he is doing.

The He in this except is Jesus. I imagine Jesus knowing about Judas and still choosing to love him and forgive him. It amazes me, but also reminds me that I must forgive. Honestly, it was just a job. It may have taken me by surprise, but God was not shaken or stirred by this. And if the Creator of all humanity can forgive me, and Jesus can forgive Judas I can forgive them.

“When you pray for your enemies, it redirects your heart from the offender’s faults to the offender’s need for restoration.” 

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

Why Men Will Like Me

I have struggled for a long time with being insecure and wondering if a guy would ever like me. AND if a guy would ever like me, why? I mean I cannot just have someone simply accept me for who I am. I am a lot of things, and liking me for no reason will drive me on a speedboat to insanity. Now, there were (and sometimes still are) times where I cannot fathom why guys would like me. Most were superficial reasons. I’m fat. Men like women with long hair. I am obnoxious. I talk to much. I am not domestic. I am not pretty. Sometimes, the reasons were valid. I am hostile to men. I am unnecessarily and completely distrusting of all men. I feel the need to dominate over them to remind them I am not inferior. No matter what the reason valid or invalid, I have kept men a disturbingly far distance from me. I think that time period is coming to a close though. You want to know how I know? Swing dancing.

I have taken several contra-dancing classes. Each and every time I have taken them, I get the same comment. “You dance well, but you need to let the man lead.” People don’t know how biting this comment is for me. Perhaps it is the distrust, but the idea that a man would lead me anywhere (even in dance) pissed me off, but also scared me…

My dad was a terrible leader of my family. He lured us into storms and often times was the thunder and lightning ripping fear and pain into our home. If I wasn’t being mislead, often times, I was not lead at all. Even in church as a child and a teenager, I could not look to leaders for guidance. With them I was cast under the shadow of my sister. Which is not her fault. She is awesome in several bazillion ways, but I am awesome in several bazillion other ways. No two apples on the same tree look alike. So, the fact I was often lumped into doing tasks I had no skill in (and more so no desire to do) killed me. Then there were the handful of guys I liked. It is one thing if two blind people fall into a ditch. It is another if I can see where this crapfest is going and still hop in…

So, essentially my distrust of men is both life’s fault and mine. Nevertheless, I don’t trust men at all. Well, at least I didn’t. So, onto the dance part. February 8, my friends Lori and Christeen invited me to go swing dancing at a tea shop. I love to dance. Seeing how seminary places a number of limitations of my personal recreational activities, swing dancing was going to happen. So, I went assuming two things. One, no man in here will ask a scrub (me, Tosin-scrub) to dance. Two, I am going to be terrible at swing dancing for reasons mentioned in paragraphs before this. Well, as God would have it, I was wrong on both accounts. One, the moment I sat down a man asked me to dance. I said yes. Two, I was not good at it, but I wasn’t because I wouldn’t let him lead. I was bad because I was nervous. Which is a total win. I have continued going to swing dance, faithfully every Saturday night. And with every passing week, I get better at it. Not only do I get better at it, but I feel better about myself and how I relate to men.

While, all those reasons may exist why men would not like me, let me inform myself on why they would. I am funny like on the verge of Mindy Kaling funny (’tis but another brown woman’s goal). I have put in the work to not carry the burden of having daddy issues. Does my father have issues? Yes. Do they lord over me. No. I work hard and adamantly seek out ways to make my community a better place for everyone. I am real. I am not attempting to present myself as anything better than what I currently am. I am loyal and can admit wrongdoing. I am imperfect, and most times I am okay with it. I want the best for others. I am tried and true to my personal convictions.

Most importantly to me, I love the Lord. My concern and love for His way and Him is the heartbeat and the arteries and the blood flowing through these veins. The conceptualization of someone so perfect making such a sacrifice for someone as lowly as me, both blows me away and breaks my heart. So, how else do I respond, but in a way that my life informs my world of this love and grace and honor and majesty He audaciously bestowed upon me. Tosin. Undeserving, unqualified, me. Stretching beyond my love for Christ, but knowing that the entirety of His sacrifice was funded in love for me. What?! So, if I trust in a God who knows even the parts of me I dare not place on a public domain, shouldn’t I even more so believe that there will be men who like me. Doesn’t that even seem more likely. And dare I say it, but one man, who will love me. And in loving me, his love will be a reflection of Christ. What!

Now, this is not a call for all men to like me. I don’t think they will. Truth be told, I just rub some people the wrong way…and that is fine. However, men will like me and now I know why.

Here in this Place

If you read through a couple of my blog posts (like the previous one) or have a heart-to-heart conversation with me, you will know I have had my lot of daddy issues. From hating the man to ignoring his existence to being here in this place with him, I have struggled greatly with the way that I relate to him, but all of that has taken an interesting turn recently.

September 17th, my and my dad had a conversation, where I let it all out. Many times, I have unsuccessfully attempted to do so. All ending in failure and frustration, but at the end of the conversation I said something to him that gripped both him and I. He often makes references to being the spiritual head of our family and how I should respect that. He talks about how he is without honor in his own home. Knowing God, intimately and personally, I take offense to both statements. One, because I honor him. My lifestyle brings honor to him. I am an African-American women, who has graduated from college with honors and without loans. I moved to Texas to work with people I have never met in my life and did extremely well. I was accepted into one of the top seminaries in the nation. My whole life revolves around how I can please the Lord. The one time I was drunk (and before some of y’all get ya panties in a bunch I realize bad choice), I kept screaming, “I’m so sorry, Jesus! Jesus is so ashamed of me.” So, the no honor thing just pissed me off. More than that I hated it, because that scripture (Mark 6:4) was used in a way to belittle me. And they did. I felt so little, but worse than feeling little I felt insignificant. I felt like everything God created me to be was pointless. And folks, that is a hellish place to be. But back to the conversation. I ended it with this phrase,

“If you want to have a relationship with me, you need to pursue me! Because that is exactly what God did for us. He didn’t ask me to meet him halfway or to pursue him. Because, HE is my Father and HE wanted a relationship with HIS child.”

After letting the tension settle, my dad agreed. He FREAKING agreed with me. I went into my room that night and bawled. I turned on a song called When I am Afraid by Laura Hackett and just cried. I don’t know why I was crying. The conversation ended as good as it could, but it was just one of those where I was overwhelmingly (and frighteningly) emotional. I haven’t thought much about it until today. Because, I realized something: I am worth pursuing.

I jokingly boast with friends that I am awesome, but oft-times I think of myself in relation to my deficits. I look at my left hand holding on to all the things that I assume make me lesser than some fictional other person. The biggest of them all being my body. Not simply just weight, but health issues that are out of my control. I would focus on them and just imagine, “How in the world am I going to present this to anyone? I’m so ashamed. Why would anyone even waste their time?” But in this time off I have had the time to concentrate on the abundance in my right hand. Oh my GOD (literally to God), the perspective. I don’t want to list them off, but the ways the LORD has blessed me far outweigh the pitfalls of being me. And it didn’t see that. I never noticed that and for that reason I am worth pursuing. Let me tell you why this is important.

I am the WORST at liking guys. I pick out guys based on my deficits. I say I don’t have a type, but I do. My (previous) type are nice guys with terrible decision-making skills. Typically, he is a well liked guy in a group of people, but he makes really really stupid decisions. More than that, I have always pursued these “nice-ish guys”. But I am not a tyrannosaurus looking for a partner so I don’t miss Noah’s Ark. I am a woman and I am awesome. I ain’t no Halle Berry, but let me tell you something Halle Berry ain’t no Tosin Akande. GOD has brought me to a place in our relationship where I am understanding myself a whole lot better, because I am understanding HIM a whole lot better. I am worth being pursued. I am worth being pursued because if God pursued me, then a man (the right man) can too.

I can’t believe that took 23 years to figure out.

So, if you are wondering about me and my dad. He is actually pursuing a relationship with me, but pray for me y’all. My heart very easily falls back into the bull it did before. I have forgiven my father. Forgiveness is a purposeful decision, but reconciliation is a whole new battlefield. Can I ask the readers of this blog to leave a prayer for me in the comment section or a message on Facebook that my heart would just soften towards my dad and I would just give him a chance. The way God is constantly giving me chances knowing I am a screwball.

Lord Jesus, here I am in this place. It is such a funny process walking with You. I always ask You to take me deeper than I could ever wander and You do. By the way, I meant physical location wise. However, this is much better than I had in mind. I never seem to know my destinations, but I get there and then everything just makes sense. I don’t ever think I said this before, but thank You for pursuing me. Thank You for thinking me worth the journey from perfection and holiness to sin and folly. Thank You for always loving me even when I never noticed and even when I didn’t love You back. You are so good to me. Thank You for this amazing journey. The past six years walking with You have been epic. Thank you for this month of reflection and recharge. Whether You send me to Mozambique or Sevilla or to Iran or Venezuela or to remain in Houston or return to Atlanta, thank You. My trust is in You alone, and as long as You are in my heart then I am home. I love you and Amen

Father Who Art on Earth

No matter where you lie on the feminism spectrum, from a bra burner to Mrs. Cleaver, there is something in women that gnaws for the affection of their father. I attended a wedding on Friday. It was beautiful. Many moments in the evening took my breath away, but only one made me shed a tear. It was when the bride danced with her father.

I forgive my father for what he has done to me and my family. I forgive him because God did that for me. I don’t even hold him accountable to me for what he did. I have (forcefully) surrendered it all to God. What do I do with these desires for a father though? I have never danced with my dad before. I don’t rest my head on his shoulder. I don’t – and never had – someone to teach me how I deserve to be treated, loved, heard. Forgiveness doesn’t wash those feelings away. Is part of forgiving my dad accepting that I have lost a father?

I know I should go to God for everything, but how does God give me those memories. Perhaps, I will never have them physically. Maybe all those moments are spiritual moments I have with God. In prayer, when I am without words, I tilt my head back and look up to heaven. Other times, I will have a worship song playing and will dance. I am dancing with my Father.

So much of the way I am is because of my father. I don’t date at all. I could say that I think a man is handsome, but I will never ever approach him. I dread getting my heart broken. I want to avoid that experience as many times as possible. Also, growing up with an unfit father, I have dealt with a warped and hateful attitude towards men. I wanted to use them. I want them to know a woman’s pain. Sometime’s I wanted them to use me. I let them use me sometimes. I felt so poorly about myself in relation to men, that I would settle simply for a guy to acknowledge me. Sadly, even if it was an insult to my body, my morals, my beliefs, or my intelligence. I hate them sometimes for no reason. I question them unrelentingly and attempt to make them feel as small as I have felt.

My father has made me feel so insignificant sometimes. I am a trophy in my personal triumphs; I am a whipping post for all his failures. I have not reconciled with him. I have forgiven him. He does not see the error in his ways. What makes it more difficult is that he is a proclaimed Christian. How can two Christians see two different Christs? How can this man know the Bible and not love his family like Christ loved the church? Is it terrible, that I want to stop at forgiveness? I don’t want to reconcile to him, because I don’t really love him anymore. I don’t love him as his daughter. I strive to love him with Christ’s love, but most days I am indifferent. I already know the answer to the last question. Christ’s blood allowed for our forgiveness, but his Resurrection is the way for my reconciliation back to God. If such great lengths could occur for reconciliation, what else can I do, but reconcile with my father…these are the moments when being a Christian is difficult. Let me write on something less emotionally grueling.

I rarely drink at all. After some time it becomes easy to avoid a drink, but I remember contemplating getting wasted once. It was after my father kicked me out of the house. I wanted to feel nothing. I didn’t want joy or sorrow. I just wanted to feel void. I wanted to feel empty and purge all the emotions I had. My dad didn’t deserve my tears. I don’t drink though. I knew if I did it once, I would like it. I would like not feeling like myself for a while. I would like not having to remember my father and his failures. I wouldn’t have to remember my blood father hated me enough to kick me out.  However, what I forget in those moments can haunt me double as I fall into sobriety. Being emotionally prone, I set stipulations on when I drink. I need to be emotionally stable. I don’t need to feel pressured. I only drink with one or two other people with me. I have set up these guardrails, because any other way would lead to destruction.

I still have a long way to go with my dad, but thank you Jesus I am so much further than where I was.

Celebrating Good Men

Sometimes, the one ends up representing the many. That’s what happened to me. For a long time one man has represented all men for me. I made an idol of loathing men. I hate their power. I hate that God asks me to submit to them. They are so untrustworthy. They manipulate people. Men, they want me to stifle my voice. They want me to feel like I am nothing; so they can feel like something. They did that to me. However, it was not men, it was man, a man, my dad.

However, this post is not about him. It is not about the multitude (like five tops) of guys that have made me feel so small. This is an apology and a celebration of the men who have put up with my craziness over the past several years.

Tonight, I dedicate this post to the men who have prayed for me. Who have actively just lifted me up to Jesus. For the men who don’t simply see me as a woman, but as a sister, their sister in Christ. Thank you men so much. I don’t know what in the world the Lord has as your reward, but I hope and pray it is something grand. There is something so endearing about knowing that someone is praying for you. I think it is because men and women cannot be anything, but genuine and vulnerable before the Lord. Thanks for mentioning me when you were at your most vulnerable. Thanks for mentioning to God. He heard, and He answered.

Thank you to the men who put up with my hurtful words and didn’t return them back to me. I have said some terrible things to you men. I probably still will (God’s working on that with me). I am never angry with you. Sincerely, I am never mad. I am my father’s daughter. I like to believe if I can take away your value I can ascribe it to myself. Please know that the venom I spew makes me so sick as well. You men are never ever the words I say. Please continue accepting my apologies and be patient with me. At sometime, I will get it.

Thank you to the guys that have been AMAZING LEADERS. Literally, a ton of my appreciation goes to this group of men. I remember conversing with God and stating, “God, how am I supposed to submit to a man? I don’t trust them and they all lead poorly” Literally, days later God sent a male leader that I respected so much. Without even knowing, he taught me how godly men lead. While, I never developed feelings for this man, I will be looking for the same leadership qualities in my husband. So, many times as an adolescent male leaders placed me in roles where women previously were, not at all thinking of my actual skill set or spiritual gifts. Seeing a guy assess that and then act on it was amazing.

Thank you to the sensitive guys, who have shared private moments with me. Who have opened themselves up to me. I know most people don’t accept it, but I do. It is beautiful and amazing. I live for those moments.

Thank you to the guys who smile at me or tell me I’m pretty. I like to believe I am, but it is nice to have someone else think that sometimes.

Thank you finally to my man. I do not think I have met you, yet. Please, know I am already thankful for you. I have prayed for you, and hold you in the closest place in my heart. I neither think of you as a perfect god or a fault-filled devil. You are human. You know life is harsh. You have made mistakes, but we all have. Christ forgave you. So how can I hold anything against you? So much of who I am right now is in preparation to one day be married. I am not learning a lot of housework skills (that will be split fairly). However, I want to be emotionally ready for you. I am dealing with my dad bags. While, I would love to meander around the dating world, I know it is not the best thing for me to do. Thank you for putting up with the first 10 years of crazy and tons of years more. Thank you for being an amazing leader to our big beautiful diverse family. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for telling me I’m pretty, when appropriate (let’s be real here, some days I look awful). Thank you for having intimate moments with me, filled with secrets and jokes and whispers and tears and laughter. Thank you for loving me like Christ loves the church. I look forward to meeting you soon.

Thanks men, keep up the good work. Because there are tons of women just like me and worse who need some men to be GOOD MEN!