Mending our wounds
By QuaWanna Bannarbie
Three to four days out of the week, my youngest son wakes up, leaves his room and goes on a search.
It could be 4 a.m., 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. I don’t think he even recognizes how early it is when he wakes up, but he knows what he is looking for every time he leaves his bed. He is looking for his father.
“Where is Daddy?” he always asks. It is never, “Good Morning, Mom.” Sometimes, he awakes before my husband leaves for work. Sometimes, he has just missed him, as I am sure the sound of the front door closing may have disrupted his sleep. Most times, his Daddy has long since gone, and he wakes up disappointed. But then there are days that his Daddy does not have to go to work, or it is Saturday or Sunday morning, and our young son gets exactly what he longs for every morning … to climb into the lap or wrap his arms around the legs of his Daddy.
I see this happen repeatedly and I have to say I am thankful to witness it and, honestly, jealous at the same time. My son’s blessing to have a present father often peels back the scab of the father wound that remains due to the absence of mine. It is a sad admittance. It is true.
I read the article written by Nathan Rice during the week of Father’s Day and I loved it. He made some great suggestions of how the community can help the children with absent fathers to manage the celebrations and recognitions that commonly occur around Father’s Day. It has been my experience that the resiliency of childhood affords us a peace about managing father wounds that seems to break down as we grow older and more milestones happen in our lives.
Five years ago, a friend of our family died suddenly of liver disease. He left behind his wife and three children. His oldest, his only girl, was in middle school at the time. Over the years, I have been a mentor for his daughter to help her complete high school and pursue a college education. After her father’s death, her grades plummeted. She feared the loss of her mother, whose health was also failing. I stepped in to affirm her and steer her course toward her academic goals. While there were obvious signs of how her father’s death affected her indirectly, I never saw her cry. This year was her senior year of high school. Prom night is when she first acknowledged to me that she missed her father. Then on graduation day, the tears fell because her father was not there to share any of it. I understood all too well.
While the circumstances that resulted in our father wounds are very different, I now understand why I have been in her life — or, better stated, why she has been in mine. I am her example of a woman on the mend; still hurting but progressing. I have not allowed my absent father to define my future. I chose to accept my Heavenly Father’s invitation from 2 Corinthians 6:18: “Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” I have made what my blogger friend, Kia Stephens, calls “The Father Swap.” Kia’s blog reminds me that every day I have to make an intentional effort to exchange my father wounds for the love of God the Father. And I know He loves me so, so much.
I pray for my community sisters and brothers whose pain from a father wound can be unbearable at times. I pray for the fathers whose wounds have caused wounds in their own children. May you find peace and courage in searching the Word of God and may your hearts be mended.
QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.