daughter day one

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”Luke 8:48

“Daughter.”

In a time and culture where fathers advocated for their daughters, this woman came to Jesus alone and ashamed. She was known to all as unclean, and there was no father to defend her or speak on her behalf.

Upon touching His cloak, she was healed from her ailment, from what made her unclean.

Yet, it is the word “daughter” that restores her identity and heals her soul. In a situation where no other defended her, Jesus chose to be her father. With one word, Jesus filled the lack and accepted her. She was clean. She was directly addressed. She was seen―seen by a man who would call her His child.

I have always been uncomfortable with this relationship of father and daughter. It is the identity of God that I relate to the least. While I never expected God to hurt or betray me in this role, I simply didn’t get it. I didn’t understand who I was in this relationship or who He was. I didn’t know how to be a daughter to a father, and I didn’t know how a father would normally relate to a daughter.

Several months ago, I felt that God was inviting me to discover this with Him. I felt that He wanted me to know Him fully, and this was the relationship that was most awkward for us.

So I did what any daughter who grew up with an absent father would.

I turned around and walked―no―ran the other way. I could not get away fast enough.

Because I know that exploring this would ultimately bring me back to the father I never had, the father who never wanted me.

I spent years trying to heal, forgive, and move forward from the abandonment I experienced at his hand. While in college, I had finally done it. I was at peace that he was not there, and I decided I would forgive him so as to not be eaten alive by the pain and anger I felt toward him. His sin was my sin―just manifested differently.

This was the place I refused to go. I already healed. That was it. I would revisit this no more. So I built up my walls, hardened my heart, and wondered why I felt so empty.

(Pro-tip to those who receive an invitation from the God of the universe, Maker of heaven and earth: take it.)

Last night, my mom and I somehow got on the subject of my father. My mom asked me a question about his new family, and I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. So she told me about an article she found, and I looked it up.

Within seconds, I realized this was the biggest mistake I’d made in quite some time.

What I was looking at was an interview about my father, conducted by a girl who could possibly be my half-sister.

I read about his upbringing in China, which was similar to my mother’s. I read about how he did not want his children to experience not having food or clothing like he once did. I read that he came to America in 1988 and struggled until he learned English and could open his own business.

And I was angry.

In one sentence, he managed to insult both my mother and me, as he didn’t seem to care if we had food or clothing. The factual error of 1988 tells me that no one knows about my part in his history because we were a family in America by 1987. There were no details of how he came to America because that would have to include the ugly story of how he married a woman so that he could join her family, who was beginning to emigrate from their side of the Pacific. And then sired a child with her that he did not raise.

And then at the end of his interview, he boldly proclaimed that what he was most grateful for was that he would not have known Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior had he not come to America.

I was livid.

We may have happened before this, but we still happened. There was no attempt to reconcile, despite having been in contact with one of my uncles for years. This made me furious, but my anger only served to mask the deep hurt that was coming from a wound I thought was long closed.

This was why I didn’t take that invitation. This was why I ran. I had been hurt by this man long enough, and I did not want to invite him to live rent-free in my head once more. It took too much to heal the first time.

I have written countless letters, journal entries, and at least one poem regarding what I was feeling toward him, how I was processing, what I needed to do. And a few years ago, I wrote him an eviction notice. I was free from him. Finally.

I do not regret my life without him, despite having wondered more times than I’d like to admit, “why not me?”, “what would it have been like?” I was sent into the fire early, and from there, one can burn, or one can rise. It’s no one’s choice but your own.

But in the midst of this, God blessed my father and allowed him to gift the character “phoenix” toward my name as part of His plan: before I was even born, God declared that I would be victorious.

I was afraid to come to this place because I did not want the wound to reopen. I feared returning to a place of darkness, anger, hatred. But it seems the difference this time is that the wound is shallow and uninfected, and I am pressed to address it while it is so. And it is God who will have to help me keep it this way because my natural leaning would be to pick at it.

To be here now, as difficult as it is, God had gone to drastic measures to barrel through all of the walls I had built up, for the sole purpose of extending His invitation to me again.

God is a God of second chances, and when your heart is as hard as your head, He will break that rock-hard heart to give you one that beats and lives, and ask you to try again.

A spiritual mentor recently told me that because I have endured this much pain, my capacity for hope is this much greater. My wounds and scars run deep enough that the foundation is set for hope and love to be poured in to fill these broken places.

Months have passed since I was invited on this adventure. I was not ready to accept it then, but I think I am now.

It feels like the first step toward something huge.

I am terrified of the idea, but I am also feeling something I didn’t feel the first time.

Hope.

The one gift my father gave me is also my greatest burden. To bestow the name “phoenix” is ironic and fitting and everything I don’t want to bear. But it is a name that is redeemed because God called me something else.

Daughter.

He saw my lack and chose to fill it. He saw my wound and chose to heal it. With one word, He claimed me as His own―His own daughter. With this word, He chased away the hurt, shame, and lies that I had chosen to believe for much of my life.

He gifted me the bearing of a phoenix to fulfill the promise He made to me with this name. I will be refined with fire in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10)

And a phoenix will always rise.

Above the ashes.

I am a daughter―His daughter. And I will learn to live what that means.

This is day one.

Good job, baby

Good job, baby! Good job! Daddy’s so proud of you! Good job!

I decided extremely last minute that I would go to City Rock Fest this last Friday. It had been several months since I’d seen Disciple live, and I didn’t know when the next opportunity would be.

This small decision healed my heart in a way that I didn’t expect to ever experience on this side of eternity.

When Kevin shared a story about teaching his daughter how to walk, a door in my heart that had been swollen shut from the ache I felt beyond it had managed to crack open. This story let me see what a father should be like, what it’s like to be loved like a daughter. As she learned to walk, she fell often and sometimes with great harm to herself. And with patience and joy, he would pick her up, place her feet on his, and show her how to use her little legs. She would still fall; he would still pick her up and teach her again, never tiring of doing so.

Then one day, she propped herself on here feet and walked, and he applauded her and rejoiced with her. “Good job, baby! Good job! Daddy’s so proud!”

This is how God teaches us to walk. He picks us up and walks with us, showing us how to do the same. This is how we learn to give up our sin and choose Him—because He had been tempted in every way but remained blameless.

In Isaiah 65, God talks of allowing Himself to be found, to be sought after, of having His arms open and ready.

And no one looked for Him. No one received Him. No one asked for His help.

But when we do seek Him, He still allows Himself to be found (Jeremiah 29:14). When we ask for His help, His arms are still open, and He is still ready. He picks us up, comforts us, puts us on His feet, and teaches us to walk all over again.

And the day we prop ourselves on our feet, the day we take one step… and another… and another…

Good job, baby! Daddy’s so proud!

The day I take my first step away from my addiction.

Good job, baby!

The day I decide that sin will not ensnare me any longer.

Good job, baby!

The day I stop shaming myself but accept His redemption.

Good job, baby!

The day I stop atoning for all He’s already atoned for.

Good job, baby!

The day I choose Him above all else.

Good job, baby! Good job.

Daddy is so proud.

This is the relationship I’ve been missing my entire life. This is what a father looks like. This is how a daughter can be a daughter to her Father.

I have lost sight of what it means to call you “Papa.” After last night, I wonder if I ever actually knew.

But I’m thankful that with you, it’s never too late.

You are my Papa.

I am well loved by You.

Good job, baby.

2/20/15 Disciple

to the man who broke my heart

You. Didn’t you know? You were supposed to be my first love. Didn’t you know? You were supposed to protect me from tears and heartache. Didn’t you know? You were supposed to model a good example for me. Didn’t you know? You were supposed to love me. Didn’t you know?

Didn’t you know?

Instead… Instead, you chose to fill your own selfish wants and desires. Instead, you caused my tears and heartache. Instead, you became a model of everything I don’t want in a man.

Instead, you gave my heart its very first scar when I was just a child.

Are you happy right now? Are you happy with your new wife and the kids she’s given you? Did you fulfill your duty to them? Were you your daughter(s)’s first love, your son(s)’s first hero, your wife’s one and only? Are you happy? With your 4-5 bedroom house in suburbia? Looks like you didn’t move too far from where we used to live when we were a family.

Family. Were we really a family? You were you. Mom was mom. I was both of you. We were three people—no, two and a quarter, I guess—occupying one very small space. I really didn’t know anything about you. What you liked. What you did for work. What meal you enjoyed coming home to. Your favorite color. Your favorite book. Your favorite food.

But I remember this.

Everyday, when you came home, you would knock on the door, and I would rejoice that my daddy was finally home, and I’d run to the door to unlock it for you and run into your arms like I hadn’t seen you for years. Ironic.

But I can’t remember this.

Were you happy to see me, too? Did you open your arms to me? Did you enjoy coming home to us? To me?

Who do you think you are, that you can abandon a woman you pledged your life to and the child who is flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone, and never look back? You’re as much a stranger to me today as you were before you left. But the damage you’ve done is much more intimate. You are a parasite, a wolf. Plain and simple.

But you know… I can thank you for two things.

I thank you for the physical life you’ve contributed to me.

And I thank you for being the lesson of forgiveness I needed to learn.

You didn’t love me. You weren’t the knight who rescued the princess—there was no knight, and I was no princess. You didn’t think I was enough. You didn’t think I mattered. You didn’t think I was your responsibility. You didn’t think of me as your child, or of you as my father.

But I hate to break it to both of us… it is true. I’m as much your DNA as you are mine.

And that’s all we will ever be to each other.

I wonder what you’d think if we ever met again. Would you recognize me? Growing up, everyone told me I looked like you—and it must’ve torn Mom apart to hear it so much. Would you care to know me? Would you see me as more than an insect?

No.

No, I don’t suppose you would. I don’t think you even can. You had the chance to prove me wrong once several years ago. And you didn’t prove me wrong.

Instead, you broke my heart all over again.

It is a daily struggle to forgive you. Some days, I want to hate you forever. Some days, I want to punch you in the throat. Some days, I want to scream at you at the top of my lungs.

But who am I to judge you? Your sin is replicated in me. I have lied. I have cheated. I have broken the heart of my Love. I have left Him for other things. I have severed our relationship.

Like father, like daughter.

What a legacy, huh?

The first time I was able to see this… such a weight was lifted from my heart. I couldn’t judge you. I couldn’t condemn you. Your sin was my sin. I needed to repent as much as you do.

Because of a father, I learned to grow up before I should’ve. I learned the world was ugly. I learned that I was expendable.

But because of a Father, I learned—am learning—how to be a daughter, a child, an heir. I learned that He has overcome this world. I learned that I am covered in His fingerprints and am loved beyond measure.

He gave me you for a father for a reason. He had faith enough in me to believe I’d turn out all right — better than all right. He is strong enough to carry me through you. And you and I… we get to team up and bring Him glory in my life and through it. Don’t you feel special?

I’m not a messed up little girl with a father complex. I’m not a broken kid, desperate for any and all male attention. Oh, how close I could have been to either, but take a look at who I am. I am a woman firm in her Savior. I am a woman confident in who she is. I am a woman satisfied in the love of one Man. I am a woman strong enough to be weak. I am a woman who’s turned out pretty darn good.

And I am finally an heir. And Someone finally came to save me and defend me.

Bless you and your family. Bless your life here. May you enjoy all the seeds you have sown and reaped. Bless your children, that they may have the father I never did, and your wife, that she may have the husband my mother never did. Bless you.

But it’s really too bad you never got to know me. Your loss, really.

I’ll be praying for you as much as I can for the rest of my life. Some days (like today) will be more difficult than others. But I have forgiven you, do forgive you, and will forgive you.

Have a good life, dad. As best as you can without me, anyway.

Identity Crisis

I am a girl that one man thought was not worth his time, money, or life. He told me I was unwanted when he left me to fend for myself. He told me I was unworthy of being called his. He taught me that in order to get what you want, you have to lie, cheat, steal. If it means marrying someone, having a kid with her, and abandoning them both and scarring their lives beyond recognition, you do it. But he also taught me another thing. Never meant to, I’m sure. He taught me what it means to love an enemy, to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it in the least.

But get this.

I am a girl that one Man thought was worth His life to save. He told me I was broken but not doomed, scarred but not disfigured. He told me I’m not unloved, that I can see Him because I am very loved. He told me that He can fill the void the first man left and so much more if I allow Him to. He told me there is healing for my heart because He is the ultimate Healer; there is love for my life because He is the ultimate Lover; there is salvation for my soul because He is the ultimate Savior.

He told me I can be His daughter if I accept Him as my Father. But I don’t understand what it means. How do I be a daughter to a father? How do I risk another father coming into my life and my heart when the first one shattered them both?

Two men. Two messages. Two very different definitions of who I am.

So who am I going to believe? They can’t both be right. And they can’t ever be reconciled.

Am I worthless, or am I worth the life of God? Am I unwanted, or am I pursued to the ends of the earth? Am I broken, or have my scars been turned to jewels?

The latter all sound too good to be true, but the former sound so hopeless, so destructive, so irredeemably dark.

So why are they so much easier to believe?

Yet the latter is actually what’s true. There is so much hope in those words, so why are they so difficult to accept?

My Father loves me. He loves me. Yet my father didn’t think it was worth his while to raise me. With such a father, how can I not crave the love of a divine romance? How can I not crave the embrace of hands once nailed to a tree for my sake? How can I not fall in love?

Have I been seduced by the Gospel of grace and ruined for all others? Yes. I have tasted ultimate love and what I never had can never compare. I have been called daughter and can no longer be an orphan.

There is a Man who told me I was worth His life. So I think it’s only fair that I give Him mine.

Ashes

So this was my first assignment in my creative writing class. It was a personal narrative assignment, specifically about a difficult time. I played on a theme and talked about two. You might recognize parts of the second half of the narrative cuz I had to supplement the assignment with some old blogger posts since I couldn’t quite summon the same emotions anymore. Funny thing about healing, eh? XP

Some parts were pretty hasty, partly cuz I couldn’t quite figure out what else to describe and how else to describe it and didn’t want to conjure things that weren’t real at the time or otherwise. Not the strongest work, but hey, that’s why I don’t have a degree yet, right? 😛 Judge me if I’m still doing this after the MFA. ^^

Thanks, Cam & Levi and everyone who helped proof and look over it. 🙂 And thanks for all you guys who’ve walked with me in some way or another whether through these times or another (or another or another or another :P) and for bringing some light into my life (especially when it’s so overcast all the time up here). 🙂

I’ll take literary criticism if you wanna leave some (please don’t rip my heart out and stomp on it, though :P). Encouragement is good, too (primarily on the writing, but encouragement on life is nice, too). ^^ Both are needed for an (hopefully) up and coming (hopefully ^^) writer. And give praise where it’s due (::cough:: to Jesus ::cough cough::)!

But please, no comments about how much these times sucked or that you couldn’t do it if you were in my shoes (I wouldn’t have volunteered if I had the choice) or how “strong” I must be to get through them. I’m not strong. It’s clear from the text that I’m not. God could’ve given this life I’ve been living to anyone. Really, he could’ve split my story up into a dozen or more lives, and it’d have been traumatic for each one. But somehow he found enough faith in me to put the stories all into mine. So who’s really the strong one here?

Appreciate the thoughtfulness, but let’s give credit where it’s due, yeah? ^_^

~*~*~*~*~*~

I am a phoenix.

Sitting in the bathroom, tears sketching lines from her eyes down her cheeks, she looked in the mirror at the exhausted and unfamiliar face.

“What have I become?”

Living in a nightmare, surviving one day just to get to the next, she wondered when it would be over. Was she strong enough to put another foot in front and another and another? Her thoughts fell into the abyss of potential and plunged ever deeper.

It can end now.

Eyes shot open, the tears continuing their solemn brushstrokes along the canvas of her face. It can end now, the consideration echoed in the pathways of her mind.

The thought echoed down passageways she had never traveled before. “It can end now.”

“But then… what about mom?”

Can she truly forsake her and leave her alone in the nightmare?

If you end it now, you lose. They win. Don’t do it.

New voice. Logical. Hopeful.

No, she could never do such a thing. To be this selfish? To seek release when the one dearest to her needs her the most? This is something she could never bring herself to do. Instead, she would rise above revenge, her problems, and her abusers. With that in mind, she exited the bathroom.

When her uncle had moved in a few months ago, it was a difficult transition from a house of two to a house of five when he brought his son and nephew with him. It had gotten progressively worse as time went on. Arguments, neglect, emotional abuse – these things made an appearance more and more consistently, to the point where she and her mother avoided returning to the house they lived in for eleven years until late evening hours. Still, she never expected to find herself in her bathroom contemplating suicide.

Her uncle had probably been the closest to a father she had ever gotten, though his living on the other side of the world majority of the year hid many of his shortcomings and the dark part of his personality. Yet her mother had always described him to be an upstanding, responsible man, who sacrificed much to care for his siblings when they were growing up. His was the model to strive after.

And one fated encounter brought her to the road towards freedom. The road shook and the pedestal he was placed upon crashed to the ground, and it was shattered in the blink of an eye.

One morning, her uncle and his family waited in the living room for her and her mother as she left for school. With a video camera. An ambush. He advanced upon her, and fearing for her safety, her mother pulled him away. He grabbed them both, threw them down, and pretended to be assaulted to pose for his camera.

And all of this… over a phone bill.

A sudden strike against her cheek, even she wasn’t sure it would ever come to that. The endless war was ending soon. A restraining order was placed, and a fragile, temporary peace descended upon the two females.

Amongst the chaos and confusion, she was growing up too quickly. An outstretched arm reached toward her in peace and offered her the ability to be a teenager. Out of love and grace, a friend’s family brought them to a church, filled with believers who spoke her mother’s tongue, lessening the burden that fell on her shoulders.

In the courtroom, what she least expected to see was mercy, especially coming from the wounded. After hearing that this man could ultimately lose his visa and be sent back overseas, her mother chose to drop the charges because the crimson in their veins runs thick with the same blood.

A picture of the Gospel.

Unbeknownst to her, her steps had been guided down the path to her freedom from the moment she chose to listen to that second voice.

Don’t do it.

Thinking of it now, she realized just how much she would have lost had she listened to the first. Instead, she was led down freedom’s path, a road not frequently traveled – though well paved and well tended – by a mysterious voice, powerful enough to calm the crashing emotions on the shore of her heart, yet gentle like the sun drifting to sleep beneath the horizon.

He called to her again. Many times. Interspersed between the whispers of the velvet night, His voice could be heard echoing in the depths of her soul. And as she followed the path her uncle had opened for her, she found Him: the Man who commands the voice, seated in humble majesty, a lazy smile crawling across his simple face.

“You’re finally here.”

She dropped to the earth, knees caressed by the gentle brush of the grass, and folded into herself, tears cascading down her face, heart pounding erratically against the steel bars of the cage erected around it, begging desperately for release.

He continued to call to her; she continued to cry. She knew that to follow Him would cost her everything. The face of her mother flashed across her mind. How would she tell her? Then the face of her late grandmother, humbly knelt in front of the family’s idols bent over and praying the sutras off the page. What would it mean to be eternally separated from her?

“It’s your choice.”

Again, an extended hand. She placed hers in the flat palm of the warm hand, calloused by labor, scarred by nails, and she found freedom in His embrace. She belonged to Him, thanks in part to her uncle.

Her uncle: the man who bestowed the second character of her name, meaning “the appearance or bearing of.”

The first burning of her nest, the first rebirth: complete.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I don’t want you.

This was the voice she heard as she read over a letter from an attorney in San Francisco. On the page was a short, quick, professional letter asking for her to contact this sender: an abduction lawyer.

I don’t want you.

The words on the page raged and swirled, the words pulled deeper and deeper into a black hole, where emotions went to die.

A year previous, during her last year of high school, their financial struggles brought them to the end of their rope. Her mother reached out and applied for welfare and was put into a training program and eventually found a job in which to support them with. During the time however, much information was collected, and it was revealed that no financial support came from her father, and he was to be informed and sought after.

No word – not for a whole year. Then again, it had been much longer since he’d left.

Upon visiting home for winter vacation after her first college semester, she received this letter in the mail. It hit her harder than she wanted to admit, especially to her mother, and weighed heavier upon her than she could bear to carry. No contact from him, still, just a letter from a stranger. She wasn’t even worth his time.

Her parents did not have the “fairytale romance” – or any kind of romance. They were barely friends. Their future together, decided economically by their families, and her father and mother were married. And his life continued to be shrouded in darkness – his life, his heart, his lover. His heart had left long before he ever had. It may not have been there at all.

On the day she received this greeting, she took her first step into the spiral of depression, anger. What about her made her so detestable in his eyes? Was she not flesh of his flesh, no matter what happened between he and her mother?

Struggling to banish him from her thoughts, she focused her energy into her studies, choosing to ignore the loneliness and bitter heartache that had already taken root deep within her soul. This pattern continued for years, and had it been her choice, would likely extend to today.

But He had bigger plans for her, and what marvelously creative plans they were.

From the outermost recesses of her mind and heart, a still small voice called out to her yet again. Thoughts, which she fought desperately to suppress with the weight of a thousand mountains, rushed through the cracks and flowed like lava, searing and transforming her rock-hard heart.

She needed healing – more so than she would admit in a million years.

And He wanted to heal her. Wholly. Make her an entire person. He wanted to mend her heart so that she could love from all of it and not just the parts that feel comfortable, the few unscarred parts she allowed others to see. This was the gift He wished to give her: a heart that is flesh and tender, a heart that is whole.

All around her, others speak of trivial requests from their fathers. They talk of ways their fathers have loved them, and the ways they wished their fathers would have loved them.
How much would she give to be in those shoes? The shoes that belonged to the fathered, the shoes that belonged to those who can say their fathers loved them even if it were just for a minute, the shoes that belonged to those who can talk hockey and culture and faith with their fathers.

How much would she give?

To be able to picture as a little girl a knight in shining armor with the face of her daddy coming to save her from distress. To be able to ride on her dad’s shoulders as they walked around, enjoying the kiss of the sun’s rays and the embrace of the autumn wind together. To be encouraged every time she fell down from learning to ride her bike as a kid. To have little trivial disagreements about the boys she liked.

But these things she could never have. In the years under her belt, the one gift she wished to have received from him was that he wouldn’t have given up, he wouldn’t have left.

But he did.

He left.

And he never looked back.

Still.

Though she may not be able to express love to a father she barely knew, she could be thankful for the physical life he’s given her that, in truth, came from the creativity of a Father who would never leave her heart lonely.

In the end, it is for His glory. He calls her His – in every sense of the word. She belongs to Him. She is His daughter, His princess. He gives her the love she’s always wanted from a father and gives it freely and abundantly everyday.

Yet she doesn’t know how to receive it.

Love from a father. What is it like? How does one go about receiving it? How does one go about giving back?

Forgiving her earthly father… she never thought she needed to. He had departed so early and abruptly from her life and growth that she felt he was a stranger in nearly every way. But he was not a stranger; a stranger would not be able to wound her heart so mortally. He was a man whose responsibility was to raise her and love her, and he threw it all away along with a daughter he wished he never had. He was a man who left her to fend for herself when she needed a father the most, in order to chase after his own fleeting desires. He was a man who broke her heart, shattered it to pieces, and scattered it to the four winds.

To pray for him? To forgive him? To… love him? Who am I that I can do such a thing? By the love and mercy of God, this daughter was called to do such. And by His strength alone she could pray blessings on a man she would rather curse for eternity.

Even so, as time has gone by, peace had begun to heal her heart. It continues to be painful to pray for him. To pray against the wrongs he’s done and possibly still doing… that’s simple. That is something she can do. To pray blessings on the man who trampled on her heart? To pray blessings on the family he replaced her with? How can she? They are the hardest prayers she will ever have to pray.

Struggling to forgive, straining for justice, she judged this man and labeled him a sinner. His sin cut deep and severed tendon from bone. He abandoned her, he cut out her heart and dropped it without a second glance. Yet she is called to forgive him.

She felt, however, that if she could forgive this man, she could do anything. She knew deep within that her lack of forgiveness for him and her anger that boiled into hatred would poison the fruit He wished to grow in her. She wanted to be fruitful for Him, and more than anything, to be made whole.

Forgiveness would come soon enough – soon enough on His time. To be forgiven, one must forgive. Were his sins really much different than her own? Had she not once left her Love, ripped out His heart, and spat in His face?

The sinless God came to the earth He created, relinquishing His right to be praised, clothing Himself in frail human flesh, and donning a servant’s clothes to wash the feet of those He taught. The sinless God, who had and still has every right to be angry and hateful toward us who break His heart over and over and over and over again, chose to forgive, and His love compelled Him to die for those who break His heart and His laws in order to allow them to come back into fellowship with Him.

The innocent sought the guilty for reconciliation.

So how could she, in her selfishness, justify hating this man for what he did? She was just as guilty as he. And their sins were against no one but Yahweh, God Almighty.

She would learn that forgiveness was the key to her freedom, and it was just within her reach. Forgiving him would release her from her anger, release her from her bitterness, release her from the cage she slammed shut long ago, and allow her to use all the wasted energy and time to focus on that which was more important and lasting like putting a smile on her Father’s face.

Her earthly father, having taken no active role in her life for over twenty years, taught her the only lesson he ever needed to teach her: how to forgive.

Her father: the man who bestowed the first character of her name, meaning “phoenix.”

The second burning of her nest, the second rebirth: complete.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Phoenixes are magnificent creatures. Through severe physical and emotional trauma, they are able to rise more beautiful than before, wearing their scars like jewels.

The appearance of a phoenix – a name given to her by the two people who would push her to live up to it for years to come; her name is a promise – a promise that life would not be easy for her, but also a promise that the scorching fire that licks her skin is a temporary sting that would lead her to be born anew.

Her name is a promise from God, a promise of a difficult life and a promise of perseverance through the fire. Scars etched deeply upon her heart and upon her past – they are being refined by the fire to shine like silver and gold.

He wants her heart. The heart that had been trampled on and forgotten about is the heart that the King of the universe wants to set His throne upon, to make His home in. He reveals to her from beneath a shrouded veil a heart that is whole, a heart that is radiant, a heart that is beautiful.

This is her heart. The scars that were once adorned on its surface have been healed and transformed by her Savior. These storms that were meant to batter and break and dirty this heart have caused it to shine even more radiantly than it once had, and more radiantly than it once could.

This is her heart. This is His home. There is still healing that must take place.

But He knows her.

And He will meet her in the storm.

And when the rain subsides, peace comes like waves spilling over each other before finally breaking on the beach, the scent of the sea an hour after a storm – the scent of peace – lingering lazily in the air.

In the scream of silence, the caress of a whisper brushes across her face. Born from the imagination of the Most High God, He seals her with His promise.

She is His masterpiece.

I am a phoenix.

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featured in WitnessLA Part 1 Part 2

Freedom

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” ~ Matthew 6:14 –> 爸,我要神原諒我,所以… 我就原諒你. 但是… 我們都已經沒家人的事了… 我只想要媽媽開心,想她終於能看到她是神最漂亮的女兒。你碎了我們的心,但是為了我們的自由還為了讓神開心… 我就原諒你,要是你就永遠都不會有力量傷我們的心. bye.

This headed up my Facebook status earlier. Translating the part I wrote in Chinese, it says simply this: “father, i want God to forgive me, so I will forgive you. However… we are already not family. I only want my mom to be happy, I want her to finally see that she is God’s most beautiful daughter. You broke our hearts, but for the sake of our freedom and for the sake of making God happy, I forgive you, so that you will never have the power to break our hearts again.”

Struggling to forgive, straining for justice, I judged this man and labeled him a sinner. I name his sin. Adultery. Abandonment. Pride. Lust. Greed. Materialism. Selfishness. Being a dbag in general.

But what makes me different?

Adultery. Have I not forsaken my Beloved in order to chase after things of this world? Have I not walked away from Jesus, broken His heart, and chosen sin above perfection?

Abandonment. I leave my first Love in order to find something He is willingly giving me: unfathomable, inexplicable, beautiful beyond reason LOVE.

Pride. If I ever claim not to be a prideful person, I show my pride already. I take great measures to never seem wrong, even if I must attack God’s person.

Lust. I hunger for and chase after things that are not godly, things that break His heart.

Greed. I want. I want. I want. I want this. I want that. My want is insatiable.

Materialism. This will make me feel happier. With this, I need nothing else… but the only thing that will allow me to need nothing else is if I have God.

Selfishness. I don’t know why people don’t think I’m selfish. Do I really hide it that well? I am more self-centered than I let on, I suppose.

Being a dbag… well……. I mistreat people. I judge people. I play favorites. I ignore those I don’t like. I will be the biggest jerk to you if I find fault in you.

His sins are my sins. They may have manifested in our lives in different ways, but what difference is there, really? Sin is sin. I need to take the plank out of my own eye before I can ever hope to take the speck out of another’s.

I want to be pleasing to God. I want to be forgiven by God. God wants me to forgive those who have done me wrong, and even more so, He wants me to love those people.

The sinless God came to the earth He created, relinquishing His right to be praised and putting on a servant’s clothes to wash the feet of those He taught. The sinless God who had and still has every right to be angry and hateful toward us who break His heart over and over and over and over again… the sinless God who chose to forgive and whose love compelled Him to die for those who break His heart and His laws in order to allow them to come back into fellowship with Him.

The innocent sought the guilty for reconciliation.

So how can I, in my selfishness, justify hating this man for what he did to me? For breaking my heart and abandoning me when I am just as guilty as he.

Forgiveness is the key to freedom. Forgiving someone is not for them, it is for us. Forgiving someone releases us from our anger, releases us from our bitterness, releases us from the cage we locked ourselves in, and allows us to use all that wasted energy and time to focus on more important and lasting things like putting a smile on our Father’s face.

The person who hurt us could care less what happens to us. The person who hurt us probably doesn’t even think of us anymore.

So why do we give them the pleasure of thinking of them everyday of our lives? Why do we waste our energy hating them when they don’t waste theirs thinking of us?

Forgive. Forgive and be free.

Forgiving him… forgiving my father… it will be something I will be doing for the rest of my life. I will pray for him. I will pray against his sin, but I also must pray blessings on him. I am called to a higher standard: Love those who persecute you.


By this… they will know we are God’s disciples: our love.

Hey.

Mr. Gao.

I forgive you.

Father’s Day Thoughts

The build-up of Father’s Day from all around her. The hype of June 20th coming and now going. The number of cards purchased in the last few hours. All this reminds her that she cannot join in the festivities.

All around her, others talk about trivial requests from their fathers for this day. They talk of ways their fathers have loved them, and the ways they wished their fathers would have loved them. That he obviously didn’t read the Five Love Languages (=P).

How much would I give to be in those shoes? The shoes that belong to the fathered. The shoes that belong to those who can say their father loves them.

How much would she give?

To be able to picture as a little girl a knight in shining armor with the face of her daddy coming to save her from distress. To be able to ride on her dad’s shoulders as they walked around Disneyland together. To be encouraged every time she fell down from learning to ride her bike as a kid. To have little disagreements about the boys she likes and watch as he scares the pants off whoever comes to the door to take her to In-N-Out and a movie.

But these things she can never have. In the years under her belt, the one gift she wishes for from him is that he wouldn’t have given up. He wouldn’t have left. 

But he did. 

He left. And he never looked back.

Still.

Though she may not be able to express love to a father she barely knew, she can be thankful for the physical life he’s given her that, in truth, came from the creativity of a Father who would never leave her heart lonely.

“When ‘important’ individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do – to look into the face of God for ourselves.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

In the end, it is for His glory. He calls her His. In every sense of the word. She belongs to Him. She is His daughter, His princess. He gives her the love she’s always wanted from a father and gives it freely and abundantly everyday.

Yet she doesn’t know how to receive it.

Love from a father. What is it like? How does one go about receiving it? How does one go about giving back?

Just when she thought she had her journey figured out. He’s full of surprises. 

She has not been willing to let Him love her as wholly His. Loving in friendship, she understands. Loving as her Father, she has yet to fully grasp. Loving in marriage… that’s a whole new issue.

There is so much to learn about her Papa. And if she doesn’t give her whole heart into seeking Him, she will not receive anything from it. Her whole broken and dusty heart that only wishes to never stray but always does. Her whole broken and battered heart that has difficulty finding solace in His love. Her whole broken and selfish heart who keeps searching elsewhere for everything He’s already offered her.

Father’s Day 2010. I commit to learning about God as Father. My Father. There’s two more hours left. Plenty of time to start the journey.

It is not a fatherless Father’s Day. There will never be a fatherless Father’s Day so long as she remains in Him.