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Choose love

June 20, 2016 - Betsy Bethel
A friend posted this on her Facebook page yesterday, and it really struck a chord with me:

"I've worked with so many girls who have abandoned by their fathers, and I know the giant hole it leaves in their hearts. I'm not sure it's fair that my kids not only have their father, but grandfathers, uncles, dear friends, camp counselors, on and on, who love them, but I can only respond with praising God for this blessing.

"Men — choose to love a child, unconditionally, who isn't yours. I'm not sure you could leave a greater legacy. You will change lives."

The only thing I would add to this, and I'm sure it's implied, is to love your own children unconditionally, and then share that love with other children. I know of dads who abandon their first children only to have a second family on whom they lavish their love. I know of dads who can't love their kids so they love their jobs or their hobbies or their substances -- in general, themselves -- more. Some of these fathers who never actually "left" their families. But they are not there for them.

To all the hurting kids — young and old — who feel their fathers chose other things or other people over them, I know it is a pain that pierces you to the core. My prayer for you is that you will find someone who not only chooses you but also who also will treat you like the unique and worthy individual you are. Some will choose you only to abuse you. Being "chosen" can become all important to you. Don't let it blind you. Don't settle for less than you deserve.

That hole in your heart may never be filled completely with an earthly kind of love. When you feel left behind, not chosen, afraid and alone, I hope you won't turn to alcohol, drugs, food, self-harm (physical, emotional or sexual), or the other destructive ways we try to ease our pain. Instead, call a friend. Say a prayer. Create something. Make music. Turn it around. Don't let someone else's failures to love destroy you. Don't give him or her that kind of power over you. When you feel no one values you, believe you have value anyway. Because it's true.

If these sound like worthless platitudes to you, you probably aren't the one that was meant to read them. But maybe you can think of someone who could benefit from hearing them. Won't you speak love and acceptance into their pain today?


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