When Your Dad Wasn’t There

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I threw the un-cut birthday cake in the garbage.  My aunt asked if I was going to drop it by his house. “No, he doesn’t deserve it.”  Once again, he hadn’t shown up.  Another meal, another missed opportunity.

We lived together as a family for only nine years.  Closing my eyes, I see that day as if it were yesterday.  Dad on the sofa looking so sad.  “I will miss y’all,” he said.  In my nine-year-old naiveté, I said, “Dad, we will see you when you come get us to visit.  Not realizing life is rarely so simple. 
Over the years, we saw him less and less.  Dad had a life to live and children did not fit into his “southern gentleman” persona.

I have often wondered why God chose him for me.  Our daddy/daughter relationship seemed to never take root.  I envied my friends who had a “real” dad in their lives.  Those things dads do for their daughters- make them feel loved, cherished, and beautiful were gifts I never received.  I arrived in adulthood with “baggage” that needed unpacking.

There comes a time when we become so weary of carrying the load.  How do you love and honor a father that lived a less than honorable life? How do you forgive him for withholding the emotional gifts a girl desperately needs? The first thing you do is make a choice…

To forgive.
It’s wasn’t about him.  He was so broken, he didn’t realize he needed forgiving.  This was between God and me.

When we have been hurt, there is no such thing as forgiving and forgetting.  God doesn’t perform a lobotomy.  

We must give our damaged hearts and those who damaged them to God.

Every moment, every day.

Choose forgiveness

God holds those who hurt His children accountable. With justice and mercy, He has restoration as His goal.  
When the relationship has been so toxic that restoration may not be an option, our restoration is of upmost importance to Him.
 Forgiveness is where we start.
 Here are a few more things that have helped me along the way:
  • I began to pray and ask God to help me see dad’s positive qualities.

  • I wrote him a letter and…never mailed it. Pouring out my heart with pen and paper was therapeutic for me. Do you need to write a letter? Maybe you will mail it and maybe you won’t. Let the Holy Spirit lead you.

  • I protected my heart from future hurt. Through biblical counseling, I learned to honor from a distance. It wasn’t necessary to plan a celebration for his birthday; I could send a card and give him a call.

  • I decided to accept dad for who he was. It is freeing to expect nothing. Therefore, what he was able to offer, I enjoyed.
It takes time and effort to be healthy.  God says in Galatians 5:1, “So Christ has truly set us free.  Now make sure that you stay free…” Never give up on freedom!

My dad restored his relationship with God and me before he died. During the last few years of his life, we spent many hours together as he struggled with addiction and poor health. God used some of those times together to give me some of the things I had longed for.

I hope I have inherited some things from my dad.  His easy going disposition and acceptance of others are wonderful traits and I gladly tell others, “I take that after my dad.”

Will you let God began to heal your hurt?

May I pray for you?
Dear Lord, today I bring our broken hearts to You. After all, Jesus, You are The Healer. Your mission is to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. Heal us Jesus and set us free! Walk with us through the process. Assure us of Your love when we feel unloved. Strengthen us when we feel weak and unable to move forward. Remind us that You will use every hurt, every tear for something eternal. You never allow pain without purpose. We trust You with our hearts.
We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
Walk in freedom today dear one. Jesus has heard our prayer.
About Carmen 
Carmen Horne | BCW Guest BloggerMy passion is ministry to women. I love all things girl! My closet attests to it. I have been married to the love of my life, Lary, for 37 years. God blessed us 28 years ago with a beautiful daughter who is a wonderful woman of God. I have a large extended family and consider the heritage I enjoy to be one of my biggest blessings. We call the Bayou State home.
I also love words and have lots of them. Does that mean I like to talk a lot? Maybe. I also love to write words and my prayer is that all glory and praise will be given to Jesus Christ through each tap on my keyboard.
My favorite place to hang out is our screened porch with my family, nibbling on dark chocolate!

You can find me on Twitter at @CarmenHorneNow, Facebook at Carmen Trichell Horne and my blog at   www.carmenhorne.com



  1. Lauren Tonge says

    This was beautifully written! I also wrote letters that were never sent! I spent YEARS judging my dad and his life choices. I finally read a book that made it all clear! It spoke on potential and how deadly it can sometimes be when it comes to our expectations of people. I learned that because Jesus is everything, it’s okay for my dad to be! Such a great read!

    • Carmen Horne says

      Thank you, Lauren! God is so kind to send us just the encouragement we need. He is and on-time God.

      Learning to love our Dads for who they are is so freeing. You are so right, we must let Jesus be our everything. He is the one that fulfills our ever longing.

      Blessings on your day, friend!

  2. Carmen Horne says

    Heather I am so glad you have found healing. God will use our pain for His glory. He already is. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your heart. May God continue to bless your ministry.

  3. Sweetly Broken Girl says

    My goodness, I’ve been there too. I can totally relate. I had four dads, but never a daddy. And it really affects not only your self-esteem and view of yourself, but also your relationship with your Heavenly Father. I worked through that pain for years (and wrote about it on my blogs: sweetlybrokengirl.blogspot.com and myimpressionisticlife.blogspot.com). It is my hope that I can help others through that pain, too, just as you are doing. Thank you for your transparency. That is what helps others find healing, too. And you are so right that God will work all this pain into something eternal . . . and beautiful. God bless you. – Heather

  4. Abigail McDonald says

    Carmen, this is so beautiful and i know it will help so man women. I avoided forgiving those who caused some deep hurts in my life for years, and it just further increased my pain. God knows forgiveness is for own sake, not his. Thanks so much for sharing your story here. You are a blessing.

    • Carmen Horne says

      Thank you so much Abby. Forgiving Dad was definitely beneficial to me. He really never understood my pain. It puzzled him. You too are a blessing. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. Betsy Cruz says

    Carmen, I can so relate to this post because I’ve had a similar experience. My dad left when I was 11, and although he was a fairly faithful father through my teen years, we drifted apart some during my adulthood. Our family is healthy, but so often I’m confronted with the reality that his choice still affects us all even 38 years later. I’m making more effort to invest in our relationship now that he is 74. Thanks for your words today.

  6. Carmen Horne says

    Thank you Julie. If Dad and I had a Facebook account, our relationship would have been classified as “it’s complicated”. My prayer is that the pain and healing I have experienced will be used to encourage someone else along the way. I appreciate your sweet words. I’m glad you stopped by 🙂

  7. Julie says

    This is beautiful, Carmen. Absolutely beautiful. Your words on forgiveness touched my heart. Thank you! Nice job sharing truth through your powerful story. So many need to hear/read it! God bless you, friend. You’re allowing God to bless others through you!

  8. margaret says

    What a beautiful testimony of Jesus’ power to restore and reconcile when we make that choice to forgive, sometimes the only thing that is really in our power to do. We cannot change someone else heart, only our own. Forgiveness on our part makes a miraculous change in the spirit world, and the Holy Spirit goes to work on the other person’s heart. Thank God for that. Thank you, Carmen, for sharing to help others. Your beautiful, forgiving spirit shines through.
    Love, Margaret

  9. Meredith Bernard says

    This is a beautiful post about a sad fact of so many people’s lives. I have good friends who had fathers like yours and it is devastating to a child (even after that child grows into adulthood.) You say this so well, “I decided to accept dad for who he was. It is freeing to expect nothing. Therefore, what he was able to offer, I enjoyed.” That’s it, isn’t it, Carmen? Acceptance and letting those expectations go. I’m so glad you were able to find this freedom and so glad God restored your relationship before your father died and even MORE glad he was redeemed! Glory! Thank you for sharing from your heart today…xoxo, Meredith

    • Carmen Horne says

      Such kind words Meredith. Thank you. Yes, knowing Dad will be in heaven will make it so much sweeter. Today, I remember him lovingly. God is The Healer of damaged emotions. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

    • Carmen Horne says

      Thank you Ellen! When you have very broken and damaged people in your life, you must learn to protect you heart. It certainly is a process. It was for me. If you don’t, they will overwhelm you. Glad you stopped by 🙂

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