We’re continuing our Summer Sampler series, revisiting some of our favorite posts from past years. This article was originally published in the fall of 2012. Enjoy! And please feel free to forward to a friend.
by Lynne Rienstra
I was four, a serious little girl who often fell asleep to the sound of my parents arguing, when I watched my father walk out the front door of our apartment. My heart cried out, “Why does Daddy have to go?” I figured Daddy had left because of me. I must not be good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Nice enough. And I made a silent vow that would take me over thirty years to discover and undo: “I will never let anyone reject me again.” In that moment, my life shifted onto a foundation of fear.
Journey to the Father’s Heart
A lot of us wrestle with fear. Maybe you’re a teen girl struggling to discover your identity in Christ (as opposed to in your looks, or grades, or ability to attract guys). Or perhaps you’re a college student, struggling to accept yourself even though you grew up feeling rejected by a missing-in-action father. Or maybe you’re now a mom yourself, but find yourself longing for a father’s unconditional love. Wherever you are, God is able to replace your fear and rejection through the power of the Gospel, as He did for me during my college years.
For thirty years, I’ve watched Him shepherd my heart – from languishing in spiritual orphanhood to discovering my identity as Abba’s beloved daughter. He’s proven to me that my experience with earthly fathers wasn’t anything like what I could expect from my Heavenly Father (the only perfect dad any of us gets – or needs).
Daddy’s Little Girl
A few years ago, I was in Colorado visiting my father. On the last morning of our time together, I took him out for breakfast for the first time. We were seated in a homey restaurant, slurping coffee and feasting on French toast when a woman who was not our waitress suddenly approached the table. All of five feet tall, with a cap of grey curls, she wore a name tag that read “MILLIE. The Pourer of Coffee, Busser of Tables, Singing Waitress.” She proclaimed, “I need to sing you a song.” Millie put down her coffeepot, turned her full attention to me, placed her work-worn hand tenderly under my chin, and with eyes full of love and affection, began to sing “Daddy’s Little Girl.”
Do you know the song? It’s the message my father – who walked away when I was four but whom God brought back into my life years later – never knew how to speak to me – until Millie sang these words:
You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold,
You’re daddy’s little girl to have and to hold,
A precious gem is what you are,
You’re daddy’s bright and shining star.
You’re the treasure I cherish, so sparkling and bright,
You were touched by the holy and beautiful light,
Like angels that sing, a heavenly thing,
And you’re daddy’s little girl.
Picture an aging man blubbering into his coffee cup, every line in his tender face proclaiming, “Oh, sweetheart, if I could have, I would have sung this song to you. You are the treasure I cherish. You are my little girl.” Picture his daughter, mascara running down her face, looking back at him with love and forgiveness, her heart completely set free to receive her father’s love for the first time in forty years.
But as amazing as it was to receive such a supernatural gift from my dad that morning, I know that Abba, my Heavenly Father, didn’t just set me free in a final way to receive my dad’s love. God also set me free to receive His love for me.
And if He could completely know and still completely accept me, the sad little girl who gave up part of her soul to anyone who promised not to reject her, the heart-hungry teenager who confused love with sex, the grown woman who grew into such a people-pleaser that she would bow down to anyone who gave her approval … if He could love and forgive me, He can certainly love and forgive you, sister. Jesus does, you know. Enough to become your sin and give you His righteousness, forever setting you free from fear and securing your identity as Abba’s child (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The prophet Zephaniah speaks these words of truth and comfort: “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) Listen very carefully, and even now you might Him singing, “You’re the treasure I cherish ...”
Lynne Rienstra grew up in Massachusetts, but now lives with her husband Rob in Covington, GA, where they pastor Trinity Presbyterian Church. They are enjoying the empty nest and a new season of parenting their bi-coastal children long distance. Lynne has taught thousands and mentored hundreds of teens over three decades. She speaks to women and girls about their true identity in Christ at retreats and conferences across the country.