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I remember the first question asked in premarital counselling: “Tell me about your relationship with your parents, starting with your father.” Before this, I had worked through some things, read some women's ministry books, and had a tiny understanding that the father relationship shapes our identities the most.

This was God’s original plan for the family unit: a father, a mother and children, and everyone lives happily ever after. A father that delights in his daughter will set the standard for her future husband and a mother who adores her son, in a healthy way, will set the standard for his future wife. A healthy marriage, where children are loved and feel safe, will set the standard for children's future marriages. It does start with the father, as he is the head of the home and responsible for his family.

This was God’s original plan: Jesus responded to the Pharisees' question about divorce in Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV): “'Haven’t you read,' He replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.'”

However, on this side of eternity, there is no ‘happily ever after’. There is brokenness and hurt, and a severe lack of good fathers and father relationships. Some children have never met their fathers, and some children grew up with absent or abusive fathers, or fathers who walked out. Some children grew up with amazing fathers that passed away too soon, and that still left a void.

Our identities are formed through our fathers from a very young age. In the book “What Happened to You?”, Dr. Bruce Perry explains that even babies know when they are unloved, unwanted, or neglected. Mothers play a very important role in children’s identities as well, but for some reason, God has placed this important role on men, as fathers.

“How a father relates to his daughter has an enormous effect on her soul – for good or for evil. Numerous studies have shown that women who report a close and caring relationship with their fathers, who received assurance, enjoyment and approval from them during childhood, suffer less from eating disorders or depression and ‘developed a strong sense of personal identity and positive self-esteem....” (Margo Maine, Father Hunger). “But Adam fell, and so did Eve, and the fathers and mothers most of us had continued the sad story. They did not provide the things our hearts needed in order to become lovely, vulnerable, strong, adventurous women. No, most of our stories share a different theme....” (John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating).

For some of us, we had emotionally absent fathers, or emotionally, physically or sexually abusive fathers, fathers that drank too much or fathers that preferred to have a son rather than a daughter, or fathers that chose a new family. To some fathers we were too much, whilst never enough.

All of this messes with our identity as daughters, as we become women and business leaders, wives and mothers. How we relate to our fathers is often how we relate to God, as our Father.

Psalm 68:4-6 (NIV) says:

“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,

extol him who rides on the clouds;

rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,

is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families,

he leads out the prisoners with singing;

but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

“Every little girl was made to live in a world with her father who loves her unconditionally. She first learns who God is, what He is like, and how He feels about her from her earthly dad. God is ‘Our Father, who art in heaven.’ He means initially to reveal Himself to His daughters and His sons through the love of our dads. We were meant to know a father’s love, be kept safe in it, be protected by it, and blossom there....” (John & Stasi Eldredge – Captivating).

Dear friend, we can choose to spend the rest of our lives on the defence, the rejection train, the victim bus, the yes-man show, or trying to avoid our femininity because it was perceived as bad or makes us look weak. Yes, our fathers did not show up in the way they should’ve. Yes, damage was done. Jesus died for us, though, and He rose again, and He is seated at the right hand of the perfect Father. Jesus made it possible for us to walk in a relationship with the best Dad we can ever ask for. Jesus made it possible for us to be healed and made whole from the hurt and rejection. God, the Father, absolutely delights in His daughters.

*We can only find our true identity in God.

*We can only be who God made us to be, by walking closely with the Father.

*Jesus in us, and through us, is the only way.

*We can only be the best, fulfilled, and whole versions of ourselves, with Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:8-9 (TPT) says: “He will keep you steady and strong to the very end, making your character mature so that you will be found innocent on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is forever faithful and can be trusted to do this in you, for He has invited you to co-share the life of His Son, Jesus, the Anointed One, our King!”

God, the Father, intended for us to be “Daddy’s girls”. We cannot want or ask for a more secure identity, than the one we find with Jesus. I understand we can never be little girls again, but we can choose to live the rest of our lives as daughters of the most perfect, stable, loving and kind Father. Accepted, enough, loved, and delighted in.



Women of Reverence welcomes Yolande Vincent our regular contributor.

Yolandé Vincent, married to Michael for 9 years and part of the Eldership team at Venture Church. Work as a hairdresser and make-up artist, Christian counsellor and loves to help people transform into all Jesus has for them. I like chocolate and exercise because balance is key :)

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