by Lisa Kirk

When I was a young girl, all I ever wanted was for my dad to love me. I lived my life doing everything in my power to be a good girl and to do everything right. I thought he would be proud of me, and in my mind, love me. I used to watch Laura Ingalls in the TV show, "Little House on the Prairie." Oh, how I longed for a relationship with my dad like she had with her father!

As a young woman at 17, there we were, he and I, for the first time working on one of my school art projects. Was this an answer to my heart cry? Had God heard my prayers for a relationship with my dad? Was this a beginning? I was a nervous wreck, but willing. Never before had I ever done anything like this with my dad! I was scared, but hopeful for our relationship. He was helping me to build the base to a sculpture I wanted to make. I was very nervous about asking for his help, but with my mother's encouragement I asked him and he said he would. I was nervous working with him because I didn't feel very confident in his presence. He was a man of few words and his presence alone spoke intense authority. I didn't think he thought much of my talents or my love of art. I remember trying to explain the idea for the base and how I saw it. It was as if my words were choking me I was so nervous, but somehow I spoke it and we began to build it. He showed me a few pointers in using some tools, got me going, and then I was on my own.

A day or two after that, my father came to me to tell me about something I had done wrong concerning his workbench. I had no idea as to what it could be. I could see the look in his face before he said a word and I was so afraid. He told me what I had done in a strong, demeaning voice and called me a, "Dumb tool." At that moment his words shot through my heart like a bullet and I died a thousand deaths. All my hopes were dashed. Why would my dad want to be with a dumb tool? I could barely hold back the tears. I hoped he would leave me quickly because bursting into tears would not go over well in front of him. He soon left me there to think about what I had done. I cried silently holding my hands over my face to muffle my sobs. To this day I can't remember what I had done on his workbench or why he was so angry and disappointed with me. I still loved my dad with all of my heart. Though I did not understand him, I still loved him and still hoped he would love me. I still hoped we could have a dad to daughter relationship.

When I was forty-two, my husband and I were working on some ideas for a bookshelf in our living room. I had one idea and he had another. At one point in our discussion of ideas he was not understanding me, so I tried to be a little clearer. All of a sudden I found my words choking me and I could not express my idea at all. My husband became frustrated with me and we ended up in an argument that sent us to bed without resolution. The next morning all the frustrating, insecure feelings were racing in my head as soon as I opened my eyes. I was in turmoil over not being able to speak my idea for the shelves. I was mad at my husband for not hearing my idea. I felt he did not think much of what I had to input. When he got up we attempted to talk about it again. Again I tried to express my idea and started with a sketch. In an instant all the painful, fearful feelings of that day when I was 17 appeared before me like a video. For 25 years I had buried it from my memory. I burst into tears and began to tell my husband what I had just realized. I told him how everything came back like that day with my dad and it was as if he, my husband, was my dad. I could not express my idea and became so insecure and frustrated with myself and with him. I told him the whole story and I realized why I was so unable to communicate with him about the shelves. I told him how my dad called me a dumb tool and how I stood there sobbing and how badly it hurt me. At that point my husband came over to me, put his arms around me, held me, let me cry and even cried with me. Then, he prayed that God would wash over me and heal me from this terrible wound. This helped me greatly, but there was more.

We went on that morning in our usual routine of getting the kids and himself off to school and work. In the hustle and bustle of the morning my husband glanced at the kitchen table where he saw something he did not recognize. He asked where we got it. I explained that it was a dusting mitt I had made from the arm of an old sweatshirt turned inside out like a mitten. I don't know why, but he was quite interested in it. When I told him I had made it he looked at me with amazement and love and said, "You smart tool!" Stunned I began to cry and I could not speak, but it was not because of any wound, but because I felt the healing hand of God Himself wash over my wounded heart right then. The words dumb tool were gone forever and I became a smart tool in the eyes of God and myself, then, now and forever!

There was a great and wonderful healing between my dad and myself. The Lord showed me one day in His great mercy how I held my dad to my expectations all those years of fulfilling a desire in me that he could not possibly fulfill. I saw how wrong and selfish my heart was in that. I repented and asked the Lord's forgiveness. In a miraculous second I was free from that disappointment and false hope that had dogged me all of my life. I had lived every day hoping my dad would change, hoping he would make up to me all the relationship that I thought was so lost. But no! God showed me my sin in not loving him for just who he was. He showed me a little glimpse of what unconditional love was. The Lord then began a process of healing me as He showed me so many ways my dad expressed love to me all through my growing up years, something I could not see before when my heart was bitter with disappointment. I began to be so grateful! I came to understand, love and accept my dad for who he was and not anything I wanted him to be.

The Lord has healed the wounds of my life that brought fear, hate, insecurity and low self-esteem. He has restored my soul. I am a different woman and I think differently about myself, which proves it! I can proclaim it giving glory to Him! I am a smart tool, a beautiful tool, a secure tool, a love tool, a joyful tool, and a free tool! You can be too!