By Jackie Beauchene: I have always considered myself to be average.  Average build, average intelligence, and average skills.  But it’s hard to be average sometimes when you are screaming for attention on the inside.

My parents divorced when I was an infant, so I grew up with no father in the house.  When I visited my dad, he would buy me anything I wanted, and rent any movie I wanted to see. It sounds good, but it wasn’t. His words, his gifts, and even his hugs left me feeling unprotected. I was a symbol of a union between two people – a union that no longer existed. I had no purpose in life; no value.

I never felt like he loved me, and it’s a pain I carried around for many years.  From the time I was able, I spent my time looking for a man who would love me.  I pledged to be loyal to any man who would love me, and remember being thrilled as a child at just being hugged by my pastor. Thrilled, but also ashamed.

My shame built up as time went by, and still no boy stepped out of the shadows to take me by the hand. Through crying fits, breakdowns, and reinventions, I continued to struggle.  I experimented with promiscuity, which only left me feeling disappointed with myself.  I had settled for an empty life.

At some point, I gave my life to Jesus, but the guilt and shame still remained.  My relationship with my dad was so fractured that I had no chance of understanding a relationship with a heavenly father.  In fact, our visits had totally stopped by this time.  He would call, and frequently remind me that he was my dad, but didn’t seem to really want me around.  This killed me, because I was so torn between what was and what could be.

Eventually, a glorious thing happened.  I met a man, fell in love, and got married.  He was a Christian, and helped me sort out my relationship with Jesus.  I started to heal, and as years went by, felt more like a whole person.

Yet, at the same time, I had completely stopped talking to my father.  I was healing, but scars remained.

I was pregnant with our seventh (yes, seventh!) child when I found out he would be born with a cleft lip and palate.  Shortly after, our fifth child was hospitalized with a lung abscess.  Sitting in the hospital, 8 months pregnant, with my darling child in a hospital bed, my family scars came back.  I felt the shame, the guilt, the failure, and the defeat of the relationship with my dad.  But I also realized that, throughout it all, God had been my father all along.  He had His hand on me in every situation, and His strength held me up when I was weak.

The Father’s Day after this, I called my dad to say happy father’s day, and to let him know that I loved him. And you know what -- it is true! I can see now that my dad had his own wounds, and was never shown how to love.  I let my pain become the balm for my father’s wounded soul.

I once thought that my father would never change, but I see things differently now.  With Christ’s help, our relationship is getting a second chance.  And my dad?  He is a man with a second chance.