Archive: The Healing

How a young woman came to experience God’s love.

The first of two personal testimonies by Joan MacMillan

“Our Father,” they said in churches. I thought I’d get sick if anyone said that again. Father. That was someone who hit you or ignored you, or told you that you couldn’t be trusted out the door.

Still I attended church. Week after week I’d catch a bus or walk to a neighborhood church. My parents neither went nor took me. I wondered why I bothered. Someone there was always telling us about that God they called “Father.” And about how He loved us.

Somehow I got through those ugly teen years. Blond, 20-year-old Dave entered my life. I didn’t love him. I didn’t know what love meant. But Dave was persistent. So one night I got on my knees and asked that “Father” in heaven for guidance about the marriage. The answer was more clear in my mind than hearing spoken words. “Marry David.” So I did.

What a commitment! My new husband, a quiet Christian, told me that God was loving, and because of that we would give away 10 percent of our income to His work. I listened, amazed. We were college students. I could see that we didn’t have enough money.

“It will work, you’ll see,” said Dave.

I should have seen God’s Fatherhood then. Always, when the financial end of our tether came, so did an unexpected source of money. One time when I needed a textbook for $8.00 and didn’t have it, an Air Force retroactive check unexpectedly arrived for $8.52.

Just as I’d begin to feel God’s love, the relationship with my parents would get in the way. We all have the need for family, and I kept going back to them seeking acceptance. We spent frustrating times amid misunderstandings and arguments. Often I cried on Dave’s shoulder when we returned home from visiting my parents.

My feelings of being unloved became overwhelming, so I found a psychiatrist whose brother was a Christian minister. I checked and learned that fact before I called him. I quizzed him on the phone.

“Work with me without taking away what faith in God I have,” I implored. He chuckled and agreed. Years of weekly visits with that doctor, along with Dave’s love enabled me to get better.

I grew to love Dave very much. Then 14 years after we were married, we finally conceived the child we had wanted all those years. We had a little girl and named her Elizabeth.

Still the healing of my emotions wasn’t yet complete. I knew God loved other people. I prayed for them. I watched Dave love Elizabeth, but still I couldn’t internalize a heavenly Father’s love. The fact remained that my earthly father didn’t love me. So God couldn’t.

Isn’t it strange the way emotions negate the truth? I’m pretty bright, but those old tapes of my past ran on and choked my capacity for receiving love.

My parents fell in love with the Lord about two years ago. We watched them change. Once my mother had been unable to admit making a mistake. She called recently and gently told me how sorry she was to have caused me so much grief when I was a teenager. I listened, and chastised myself as we hung up because I still felt resentment.

More recently Dave’s school went on strike, he with them. Our money reserves dwindled. My father didn’t think teachers had the right to strike.

“Their place is in the classroom, no matter what,” he told us. We explained the major grievances, but they didn’t make sense to Dad.

This morning my father phoned.

“We don’t want to interfere while you kids are upset,” he began. “We just have a couple of questions. First, is it all right for us to take Elizabeth all day tomorrow, since we know you two need some time together? Your morn doesn’t feel well today, but by tomorrow she’ll be better, and we want to take Elizabeth to the circus.” My mind flashed back to my college graduation, which my folks hadn’t attended because my Morn did not feel well.

My attention returned to the other question my father was asking.

“Please don’t be offended,” he said. “I just know Dave’s losing money every day, and we want to know if we can give you whatever you need.”

The healing. I feel its flood. Over my father. My mother. Me. The things that happened years ago don’t matter any more. That we disagree on the strike doesn’t matter. The offer of money doesn’t even matter. What I hear clearly is that my parents love their child and want to help.

“Father.” It is a good name for God.


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