Anyone who knows kind of the bits and pieces of my story could rightfully assume I'd come out of all this with daddy issues, and to a certain extent, I suppose that is true. Though not in the ways you might think. And the truth is that I don't tend to notice my daddy issues until and unless they become Father issues...then I'm all over them.
The kinds of stories I can tell, they might lead you think I'd have intimacy issues. And I thought that those would be my primary concerns moving into a relationship with my heavenly Father. I will admit it took many, many years to figure out how to be loved and even longer to let Him love me. It's something we worked through, so I figured we were done. Then apart from intimacy, separate somehow from love, I come across this other thing completely and realize I still have a few lingering daddy issues that I have to deal with because now they are Father issues.
The issue of the day is trust.
It's the kind of thing I sort of knew but never considered until that unexpected moment when I had to choose and realized that sinking feeling in my heart that was scared to decide. Scared to go. Scared to say.
Last week, I had the opportunity to go on my first boat ride. My uncle Tim brought his decent-sized boat up from Alabama to take people out during our week in Tennessee and well, standing in Grandma's hallway one morning, I told him I was going out "because I've decided I'm not going to be a chicken my whole life." Which is true.
At the same time, my heart was in my throat. I grew up with two older brothers whose entire existence centered around torturing their little sister and figuring out how to make me scream. I grew up with a dad whose idea of fun was to get me to scream louder. This was a man who, when I was timid about getting into our new pool, picked me up and threw me over the side and left me to fend for myself while he stood laughing in the yard. A man who, when I changed my mind about taking a wheelbarrow ride with him, ran faster down the driveway and tilted the barrow as far to the left and right as he thought he could get away with. A man who, any time I said I was scared, did his best to make the boogeyman jump out of the bushes and increase my fear.
So I'm fairly sure uncle Tim got tired of hearing me say, "Don't scare me, now." He kept saying he wouldn't, and as much as I wanted to believe him, I couldn't. I just couldn't. I'd said those words so many times and heard the same words in response only to be duped, only to be taken, only to be scared.
Nevertheless, I stepped onto the boat and swallowed the giant lump in my throat and sat down and closed my eyes while he untied us from the dock.
In that quiet moment, I realized I had the same hesitation in me then as I do when I pray. I'd never noticed. It had never occurred to me. I'd never stopped to consider. But there it was. This hesitation. This little girl trembling that asks but doesn't buy the answer. This timidity that still thinks God is about to bring the boogeyman. This lack of trust that my Father would never really hurt me. This lack of trust that tells me He's pulling my leg somehow. This preparation in my spirit...to scream louder. Like God would be out to get me. Like God would stand there laughing at my fear, mocking my weakness.
Two seconds into the ride, I stood on that boat and laughed at my fear, mocked my weakness, and busted out some dance moves in the middle of the lake. (Ok, not the middle middle but sort of like the middle edge.) I turned to Tim and smiled and said, "Can I dance on your boat?" He had the radio on and just kind of shrugged.
The thing is this: Tim wasn't out to scare me. He wanted to show me something really cool - what being out on the water could be like. What I learned was that and so much more.
I'm thinking about all the things in my life, all the really cool things, that God has wanted to show me. I'm thinking about the things He delights in that He's wanted to share with me that I've missed out on because of this buried mistrust, this daddy issue that plain as day had become a Father issue when I wasn't looking.
It's still a big step - the dock to the boat, the fear to the trust - but I'm getting there. There are some really cool moments out there, some awesome things God still wants to show me, still wants to do in me. I just have to be willing to mock my own fears, step out in faith, trust Him, and dance.