I'm at the age where attending funerals is becoming more commonplace. And truly, there's nothing like an end of life celebration to bring everything into perspective.
Awhile back I attended a funeral for a dear friend's husband. There was hardly a dry eye in the place as one of their sons shared story after story about what his dad had meant to him.
While choking back tears, he invited us all to dig a bit deeper as he said, "I think everyone in here could say, 'I want more of my dad.'"
His words hung in the air. I was profoundly touched by his statement, so much so that I grabbed a pen and quickly wrote down his words so that I'd be sure to remember them. He ended by saying that he was one of the lucky ones to have had an invested dad.
I agree with him completely.
As I reflect back on the years of interacting with girls and young women, a general consistent theme I hear from them can be simply stated as this: "I want more of my dad."
Stated otherwise, I've never heard even one of them say that she had "too much" of her dad---too much time, too much attention, too much love, too much affirmation, too much laughter, too much talking, too much interacting, too much connecting, too much validating, too much vacationing, too much volunteering together...you get the point.
This past weekend I read an incredible autobiography titled, Eva's Story: A Survivor's Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank. I was intrigued to know more of Eva Schloss' story after hearing her speak last month when she shared harrowing memories of surviving the Holocaust. She, her brother and her parents had been taken as prisoners by the Nazis to the Polish death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau during World War II.
I was deeply moved by one particular story where Eva miraculously reconnected with her father after he had been granted permission to come and find her. Since they were in two different adjacent camps, he had no idea that she had just resigned herself to death, was severely depressed and had been crying much of the time. Yet upon seeing him, she said that she felt revived.
In her own words, Eva describes their reunion:
His eyes were full of an immense love for me. I threw myself into his arms and felt his warmth and strength flow into me and pull me back to life. I sobbed uncontrollably while he held me close to him as if he would never let me go. He must have felt as happy as I did, to have his little daughter in his arms once more.
He told me to be brave and not to give up ... We exchanged looks of such yearning and love that I still see his face like this in my dreams.
Eva and her mother barely made it out of the war alive. Her brother and father did not.
Yet here she is now, at almost 90 years old, and it's evident that her dad's love is still with her—a love that carried her through severe suffering, starvation, torture, assault, resettlement and later, re-engagement with life.
I talked with Eva after her presentation and told her about my work with dads of daughters. If I ever meet her again, I will definitely ask her more about her "Pappy" because from everything I could tell, she is still her daddy's girl.
Dads, I share these stories with you today in the hope that your heart will be stirred. And not just stirred to experience emotion, but stirred to action. After all, it was God who said that the hearts of fathers are what need to turn toward their children, not their heads (Mal. 4:6).
I want your heart to be stirred to engage your daughter's heart today as you realize that any day could be your last. And any day could be her last.
Your intentional investment today will leave a powerful, beautiful legacy for her.
And your intentional investment today will leave a lasting, loving legacy in her.
So make this day a day where your daughter enthusiastically and confidently shouts to you and the whole world, "I did have enough of my Dad today!"
Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon, and has served in that role for the past 17 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a nine-month group forum designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to help them focus more intentionally on consistently pursuing their daughters' hearts. She released her first book, titled, Dad, Here's What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter's Heart. She invites you to visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs where she provides practical tools so every dad in America can become the action hero he wants to be and his daughter needs him to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.
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