There is this phrase, “Daddy Issues”, that is used to label a certain woman demographic which makes me cringe. Oddly enough, it also makes me feel connected to it every time I hear it. Girls with “Daddy Issues”. You’ve heard of one, dated one, friends with one, or maybe possibly you are one of those girls. Me too.
I grew up through my childhood and teenage years not knowing my birth father. He struggled with alcohol abuse throughout his life. When I was a baby my Mom chose to remove me from an abusive situation. This resulted in me never knowing him or having any memories of him growing up. I grew up wondering who he was and if he even remembered me. When I was 13, I was sexually molested by my stepfather who my Mom married when I was 5 years old. I grew up with this man, trusted him, and he violated me in the most horrendous way. Due to these “daddy issues” I had, it caused me to spiral in my teenage years. In high school, I battled an eating disorder, and when I was 18 I moved away to college as far as I could get from the abusive situation I grew up in. In college, I made the most of my new-found freedom and began partying and discovering my own love affair with alcohol. But perhaps the biggest side effect of my “daddy issues”, I began clinging to any guy that would give me any sort of attention. It’s how I coped, it’s how I dealt with the life that was handed to me because of other people’s actions on me.
"But perhaps the biggest side effect of my “daddy issues”, I began clinging to any guy that would give me any sort of attention."
Having to experience and deal with a situation that was given to you because of other people’s actions is unfortunately not something new in history. I studied a story this week in 2 Samuel 13:1-22 involving King David’s daughter Tamar. In this story, we see a family that is about to go through one of the hardest things imaginable. The Bible tells us that David’s son Amnon fell in love with his sister Tamar who is described as “beautiful” and who was also a virgin. Through the encouragement of his cousin Jonadab, Amnon comes up with a plan in order to get his sister alone so that he can have sex with her. “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, 'I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat from her hand.'” 2 Samuel 13:5 When Amnon was able to get Tamar alone through this plan, the Bible tells us that he refused the pleas of his sister Tamar begging him to stop and to let her go. He raped her.
This story is incredibly raw and so painful for anyone to read, especially if this is something that you have experienced. Even sitting here right now, it is hard to bring myself to type out the actions that were performed against Tamar. It is unimaginable, and reading the story brings back so many hurt emotions for me and I’m sure others as well as we imagine the pain that Tamar is feeling as these things are being done to her. My heart breaks for Tamar and what was done to her, not because of anything she did, but because of the awful unimaginable sin and struggle of others.
I wish Tamar’s story had a better ending. 2 Samuel 13:20 says, “Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.” Another translation describes her as bitter. For so many years I was that bitter, angry girl. I finally had to deal with all of the emotions that I had held on to for so many years after I met my husband. I felt anger, I felt shame, and I felt embarrassment. It was embarrassing to have to talk to my husband about these things that had happened to me. I was angry at my stepfather that I even had to deal with this issue that I did not cause. I was angry at my family for raising me in such a dysfunctional situation. As I began to know Christ more and grow deeper in my relationship with him, I had a choice to make. Was I going to sit in this anger and stay bitter for the rest of my life, or was I going to allow the love of Jesus Christ to overcome all of these emotions and free my mind of them once and for all? 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Jesus Christ is love and the love of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to overcome every single mistake, every single emotion, every single thing from your past that does anything but causes you freedom and joy in Jesus Christ. The cross of Jesus Christ was meant to carry every burden, every pain, every sin, every horrible emotion so that we can live in the peace that Jesus Christ came to give us. I so wish Tamar knew that peace.
"But thankfully, I serve a God that I can’t run away from. I absolutely can not run from His pursuit of me, even in the biggest pain and feelings of shame, He pursued me."
These were my issues, a past that I wanted to forget. A life that I tried so hard to run from. Emotions of shame, embarrassment, and pain that were so much easier to push all the way down, to pretend like they didn’t exist. But thankfully, I serve a God that I can’t run away from. I absolutely can not run from His pursuit of me, even in the biggest pain and feelings of shame, He pursued me. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “'Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'” Through His pursuit of us, of our pain, of our shame, of our past, He shows us that He wants to take it from us. To give us that life free of hurt, free of shame, and free of anything but joy in Him. That we don’t have to carry that emotion on ourselves anymore, that we can find amazing rest from our past and hurt emotions in Him. He can turn beauty into ashes, and he can turn a bitter woman into someone so free, so full of peace and joy in Him.
He shows us that we are worth so much more than what someone’s action against us tells us that we are worth. When we seek and pursue Him, God describes us as “more precious than rubies.” Pursue Him! Give Him your pain, your past, your emotion; He can handle it. I promise! Be willing to follow Him and allow Him to cover you in His love because the love of Jesus changes everything. Allow Him to let it change your life. Why? YOU are worth the peace and freedom that Jesus Christ died to give you.
Written by Ava Coache,
Guest Experience Volunteer and wife of Pastor Jason Coache