As a father, I’ve experienced plenty of moments that every father dreads. I’ve watched my wife and newborn daughter almost die during childbirth. I’ve helplessly watched my 7-month-old son roll off of his changing table. I’ve had to let my 3-year-old daughter undergo surgery without me by her side. I’ve witnessed countless tumbles, scraped knees, cuts and bruises.
I’ve recently experienced another first: How do I help my college-aged daughter who is hurting?
I will always be Taylor’s daddy. As the Lord says in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” I will always love that precious girl. She captured my heart from the moment I saw her 19 years ago. But in the past when she was hurting, I could pick her up, hold her in my arms, and kiss her pain away.
Nowadays, it’s just not that simple. Since Taylor now lives outside my home (she is a freshman in college), how can I best help her when she experiences great pain and disappointment?
Like so many young people these days, Taylor is an avid blogger. I just read her most recent post, and it broke my heart. Here is an excerpt:
Here is the question that has been spinning around and around in my mind these past few weeks. The question that has kept me from writing papers, from drying tears, and that probably had something to do with the 20 percent I got on a Biology quiz last week. (Not even kidding.) This question is literally starting to consume my life: Am I worth it?
Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? Am I skinny enough? Am I healthy enough? Am I good enough? Am I worth people’s time, people’s love and people’s encouragement? And my answer lately has been a big fat: I DON’T KNOW.
I have always asked myself this question, and logically, the answer is, “Of course you’re worth it!” People have always told me I am, right? I mean that’s what your God says is true about you …
But when I’ve looked at what’s going on in my life currently, there have been so many more things pointing in the NO direction. I mean, when I constantly have boys, employers, professors and peers all around me leading me to believe that I just flat out don’t live up to their standards, and that I probably never will, can you blame me for starting to believe them?
As her daddy, I want to hold my little girl in my arms and weep with her. I want to tell her that everything will be OK. I want to explain how she looks through my eyes. I want to make her realize that she is worth it, that she’s pretty, smart, skinny and healthy – that she’s more than just good enough, she’s incredible!
But what does she really need from me? It seemed so simple back when she was younger and living at home. Now, to tell you the truth, I’m really not sure.
I’ll call my daughter later today and cry with her. I’ll listen to her broken heart. But I don’t think I’ll try to fix it and make her pain go away. And that’s hard for me.
I want her to feel better, no doubt. But more than anything, I want her to know the truth, and that’s not for me to say. Taylor’s heavenly Father is the real source of truth, and I want my daughter to hear His voice.
When we pray, we get to speak to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – the Truth. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13). I want Taylor to read about who she is in Christ. The Scriptures are overflowing with verse after verse about the truth of who we were created to be. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and since you are “precious” and “honored in my sight” (Isaiah 43:4). God said that Taylor was “made in his image” (Genesis 1:27), and that she is His “treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5). God’s Word says that my daughter is Christ’s “glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18). But I really believe that she needs to hear these truths from her heavenly Father for herself.
My prayer is that my daughter will feel loved not only by me, but will seek out God’s answer to her question: Am I really worth it? My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart (Psalm 73:26).
For you dads with an older daughter, I could sure use your sage advice if I should be doing something different. How do you handle these things with your daughter?