To the Girl without a Father

The most pandemic wound of our world is fatherlessness. Every little girl yearns to be pursued by her father. She desires to be wanted. She asks the questions, Do you delight in me? Am I worth fighting for? Do you want me? Do you see me? Do you value me? Am I beautiful? Am I enough? When these questions are answered through a father appropriately loving, touching, kissing and affirming his daughter she doesn’t need to run off with the first boy who finds her attractive.

But when these questions aren’t answered in an appropriate way, she seeks to find these answers on her own. When a father doesn’t give his daughter the attention and love she craves, her need for male acceptance is bottomless. Often times these unanswered questions lead to eating disorders, depression and promiscuity to name a few.

All my life I’ve yearned for love. Craved physical touch so deeply at times I thought I’d faint. Ached for it, yet feared it with every fiber of my being. I was abused so much I didn’t even know what good physical touch should feel like. As a little girl and teenager I was never told I was beautiful or enough. These unanswered questions left my curiosity with a hunger that couldn’t satisfied my heart.

I searched for these answers on my own. I thought if I achieved a certain weight I would feel beautiful and enough. But the truth is, the more weight I lost the more empty I felt. My quest to find beauty could have killed me.  I got so sick that I could literally hear my heart struggling to beat. I was petrified. One night I took my pulse and it was in the high twenties. I fought back the tears because I was afraid my heart wouldn’t be capable of handling the energy my tears would produce. My bones were protruding, I was freezing, my hair was falling out in clumps, my finger nails were purple and I had fine hair growing all over my body. I was killing myself. All my heart ached for was to be held and told I was beautiful.

In college I pursued men because I wanted to be noticed. This left me feeling even more empty and alone. Every guy I liked was addicted to pornography. What the heck was wrong with me? Was this my fault? 

Then a guy wanted me to get plastic surgery. When he mentioned those words my heart froze. I felt gross. So does this mean I’m not beautiful? You don’t like me just the way I am? You don’t think I’m attractive? You think I’m ugly. Even though I would never even consider the mere thought of plastic surgery, those were painful words to hear.

Then I went to India and my life changed.

I never knew that God the Father loved me and didn’t even really know He existed. In India, Eric Clark, a FOCUS missionary at the time, gave a talk about God the Father’s love. I broke down and wept. I had never heard about a love like that before. I couldn’t fathom someone loving me the way in which Eric described how God loves us. He used adjectives to describe God the Father that were foreign to me. He said God was gentle, loving, merciful, understanding, compassionate, and that He adored us (His creation). It was exceedingly challenging for me to digest what Eric was saying. But there was something about God the Father that captivated me. Even though I didn’t know Him or understand how He could love me, I yearned to with all my heart. I desperately craved love. And not the counterfeit love that the world offers, but genuine authentic love – the love of the Father.

After Eric’s talk I went up to him, Eric I want to know God like that. Can you teach me? One of the things Eric told me was that in order to know God, I must frequent the sacraments. So I made a commitment that I would attend daily Mass, go to adoration and go to confession more.

It changed my life.

As I healed I learned that my validation of beauty and sense of acceptance isn’t the width of my waist, my BMI, the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend or the fact that I do. I can never quench my yearning to be loved through the number that flashes back at me on the scale. My worth comes from my intrinsic dignity as a human being.

I want to lovingly encourage you that no matter where you are with your relationship with God to make a commitment to get to know Him more. If you don’t pray at all, then pray for 5 mins. If you don’t go to Sunday Mass, then go this Sunday. If you already go to Sunday Mass, then pick an extra day to go during the week too. Pray the Rosary and if you’ve never prayed it, that’s okay, just start. Take little steps each day at furthering your relationship with God the Father. And sit in silence too and ask Him to show you who you are as His daughter. He sees beauty in you. Tell Him you long to see it too.

God adores you. You are precious to Him. You are His daughter. He loves you so. And He desires to lavish His love on you. You are beautiful, wanted and loved. You are enough.

I would go to Adoration and just sit there in silence. Daily I would ask Him, oftentimes in tears, to show me the beauty He sees in me. I would beg Him to show me His love. Then I would just be still. He showed me His love and how beautiful I am because I’m His daughter.

I’m far from perfect and I definitely don’t have it all together, but I still do these things daily and will for the rest of my life. A lot of women have told me that they think if they had a boyfriend or husband everything in their lives would be better. This is not true ladies. The truth is, if I didn’t first and foremost find my identity and beauty in our sweet Father I would never believe my boyfriend when he tells me I’m beautiful. Never. No exceptions. You must find your beauty and worth in God first.

Read the book The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. It changed my life and I know it will change yours too.

And don’t forget, no matter what you have done, the Father adores you. He died to take your sin. You are His creation. He created you out of love, to be loved. He has a plan for you! You have a purpose. Go to Him. He is waiting with His loving, compassionate and gentle Arms to forgive, heal and restore you.

Worry about finding a man to love you?

God created the universe, surely He didn’t forget about your future. Every woman yearns for a man who is going to protect and cherish her. And remember, you are worth waiting for. You are worth a man who will fight for you. A man who will protect and cherish you. A man who will truly keep you safe in ever sense of the word. Wait for a man to honor you for the beautiful gift that you are. The man God has for you won’t pressure you to have sex, he will wait patiently until your wedding night, so you can both give yourselves to each other as a sincere gift of self. Don’t ever conform to immorality to attract a man. And if you have sinned in the past, then go to confession and begin again. You are worth more than that. In fact, your worth is beyond human comprehension.

Also if someone is pressuring you to change your body, remember that plastic surgery is like saying, sorry God, but you didn’t make me good enough. I think I should help you out there and make a few changes. Satan throws lies at our insecurities all the time saying we aren’t good enough. But confidence in God, can and will, combat those lies. In order to do that, you need to be firmly rooted in who you are. Ladies, don’t let society mold your confidence.

My last nugget of advice to you and something I have learned over the years… Don’t search for your father’s love everywhere, find it in the Father.

P.S. You are enough.

(Used with permission from www.madeinhisimage.org)

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mauraMaura Byrne is a former Division 1 runner and soccer player. She loves the ocean, surfing, swimming, running, California, anything adventurous, J.crew, gerber daisies, wine, baking, gourmet cooking, and serving the poor and dying in India. She lives in San Diego, CA, and founded the ministry www.madeinhisimage.org, to help offer healing for women suffering from eating disorders, physical, and or sexual abuse, which entails, educating all women on the nature and dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.

 

18 Comments

  1. thank you. It’s a bit too late for me, but thank you for all that you do to help women. I will urge my daughters to read this. It’s all so true. God Bless

    By Elizabeth Luyben | 3 years ago Reply
    • Elizabeth, its never too late. Never too late to build a relationship with God and never too late to put all your trust in Him. He rejoices in every Child. – no matter what walk in life – that comes to Him and that recognize their intrinsic worth. The confidence you have in yourself and in God gets passed on to your daughters. Believe that you are his beautiful daughter 🙂

      By cass | 3 years ago Reply
  2. nice… so i have hope

    By Gabriela | 3 years ago Reply
  3. Love it… i hope plenty of ladies read this! there are plenty of guys out there who want to love them for who they are and as God made them!

    By Matt | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Just beautiful!!! Thank you for this ministry!!! God is good all the time !!

    By Charlie | 3 years ago Reply
  5. Maura, you are not just physically beautiful, you are internally beautiful, radiant with His love! I struggled with looking for love in all the wrong places craving the love and attention I did not get from my physically present, but emotionally absent father. I am the beloved daughter of the Father, as we all are, and so very grateful for His love!

    By Liz | 3 years ago Reply
  6. Two things came to mind when I read this. Keep in mind that St.Therese’s parents are on their way to becoming saints. The following is an excerpt from Story of a Soul, the autobiography of St. Therese of Liseux:

    I was six or seven years old when Papa brought us to Trouville (France). Never will I forget the impression the sea made upon me; I couldn’t take my eyes off it since its majesty, the roaring of its waves, everything spoke to my soul of God’s grandeur and power. I recall during the walk on the seashore a man and a woman were looking at me as I ran ahead of Papa. They came and asked him if I were his little daughter and said I was a very pretty little girl. Papa said, “Yes,” but I noticed the sign he made to them not to pay me any compliments. It was the first time I’d heard it said I was pretty and this pleased me, as I didn’t think I was. You always took great care, Mother, to allow me to come in contact with nothing that could destroy my innocence, and you saw to it, too, that I heard nothing capable of giving rise to vanity in my heart. As I listened to what you and Marie said, and as you had never directed any compliments to me, I gave no great importance to the words or admiring glances of this woman’……….Bishop Fulton Sheen: “No one ever becomes truly beautiful until he stops trying to make himself beautiful, and begins making himself good. Mary was not ‘full of grace’ because she was beautiful; she was beautiful because she was full of grace”

    By Lisa De Ruyter | 3 years ago Reply
  7. My 17 year old daughter “liked” this on facebook and so I read. Her father and I have been divorced for 6 years. This year he has seen his three girls twice. I can see my daughter so much in what you have written and I thank you for the advice that I pray she takes to heart.

    By Angie | 3 years ago Reply
  8. Thank you very much for this beautiful blog. I needed this inspiration now. Im trying to find strength in everything ive been going through right now. I thank God for people like you who inspire other people. Thank you.

    By jane | 3 years ago Reply
  9. Made me cry.
    I’ve been living in with my boyfriend for about 8 months now. It’s a long story how we got in that situation. Been praying and trying to do something that can change our situation since I know it is wrong. Sometimes I feel like deceiving God when I go to mass or pray because of the situation I am in. I tried confessing our situation but the priest won’t absolve it since the sin is still happening. We want to get married but both of us are bread winners and our salaries are not enough to even pay the debts and expenses. This feeling of being stuck to this situation, it’s hurting my soul.

    By Faith | 3 years ago Reply
    • Thank you I am buildign my backbone again, it has taken several years but better late than never. I feel so happy to be in grace with the Lord again. Wonderful article very true. I posted an excerpt from this article in spanish in FB, i hope you don’t mind. 🙂

      By flor | 3 years ago Reply
    • Faith,
      I work in a Catholic ministry and have met other couples lie you and your boyfriend. I would suggest living as brother and sister until you can afford to move apart. You can then confess, be absolved, and you will have graces strong enough to carry on with living as God designed. God Bless you, it can be done, you are in my prayers.

      By Laura | 3 years ago Reply
  10. This article touched my heart so much.
    My father wasn’t absent in my life but in a way he might as well have been. He did everything he could to make me feel terrible about who I was growing up. Like, calling me ugly, fat, and how he wished he never had me. So in a way, yes I was “without a father.” My cousin’s father always lavished her with genuine hugs and genuine affection, I was extremely jealous. When my uncle hugged me I felt such love, I would tear up. I was always afraid he’d catch me crying over his shoulder. I always felt like I was missing out on that from my own dad. I never felt complete. I still don’t. To be honest, I don’t think I ever will. Sure, I have a relationship with God, but in a way I feel like it’s too late even for that. I feel like a lost cause either way. God made a serious mistake when He created me. I know it’s a sin to contradict the Father, but I know for a 100% fact He made a mistake creating me. I’ve been betrayed and treated terribly by every male that has come into my life; family included.
    I make mistakes too much to even be worthy of God. I’m at a loss of what to do.

    By Marissa | 3 years ago Reply
    • You can’t be a mistake because God is God & can’t make mistakes! He never makes junk! To Him you are his beautiful daughter! He wants you to know how beautiful and precious you are to Him. Once when I was despairing, I asked God “if you’re really there God, could you just show me”? He did in a big way! Shortly after that I began to see purple flowers everywhere & they are my favorite. I knew then that God was opening my eyes to His love which had been there all along. I suggest that you ask God for what you need to know how precious you are to Him. He always answers me, not always right away, not always in the way I want, but always in a way I recognize as from HIM. I will pray for you to know HIS love truly! God bless you!

      By Jeanne | 3 years ago Reply
    • You aren’t a mistake! You are here for a reason, and I’ll pray that you find the people who bring joy and peace to your life. There is no point where God stops loving you, even through pain and mistakes and tragedy.

      By Cath | 3 years ago Reply
    • Marissa, not being treated like you deserve is not proof that you are a mistake. Your worth is not dependent on other people’s actions, it is intrinsic. Everyone makes mistakes, that doesn’t make you unworthy, that makes you human. God knows that. Please, continue having a relationship with God and seek professional help.

      By Laura M | 3 years ago Reply
  11. Marissa, it is sad all the things you have been trough, but that does not mean that God does not love you. In fact, you exist because God loves you. You are strong and could handle all the suffer because Jesus was and is with you all the time. Try to find Him, go to Mass, go to confession, and I know you will find some answers. You will find the right man when you notice the great you are. Please go to a Catholic Church to get some help.

    By Fiorella | 3 years ago Reply
  12. I was touched with your work. I grew up without my dad. My parents were separated way back when I was two. My dad cheated on my mom. I’ve never heard anything about him. I have not heard his voice after so long. I haven’t seen him either. In short, I grew up with my mom alone. My mom became my father also. She supports me in all the way she can. I also longed for my dad’s love, but every time I will think of my mom, I know, I just know, that she is enough. As a child, I think the pain and hatred will always be there because I don’t want to accept and understand everything at a time because I don’t have that maturity yet. But with God, I know my mom is beyond enough. We’ve been through a lot, and the least that I can do for her is appreciate and love her to the fullest. She may not be a perfect mother, but I know she is giving the best of her best to comfort me when I’m down, to hug me when I am crying, to have girl talks with me, to cuddle with me, etc. She is just beyond words. When I pray I always thank God for giving me the best mom in the world. I may not have my gentle giant, my book of wisdom, and the man I look up to, my mom fills me up with her never ending generosity, pure, and unconditional love. She is beyond all the descriptions in the world. She is the best. Your story is really touching. It was so amazing. Hope I’ll meet you. 🙂

    By Kristine | 3 years ago Reply

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