by Amy Apon Carroll
Every child who has lost their father at a young age has a painful yet unique story. When my dad committed suicide, I was just two-and-a-half years old, so when it comes to grieving his loss, it has been an interesting life journey to say the least. From the moment of his death until now, I truly believe I was covered in a blanket of grace, and perhaps a little bit of ignorance as well. You see, it is quite impossible for a toddler to really grieve the death of someone regardless of who they are.
That’s where the grace part comes in. Because I was so young, I did not have the capacity to understand that I did not have a dad, I just knew from the start that God was my Father and that was that. I never questioned it – once again, grace. Much of that mindset came from my mom instilling Psalm 68:5, a promise from the Word of God, in my heart at a very young age. She taught my siblings and I what it looks like to trust God in every season, and in every hour. I still remember running around the house as a little girl proclaiming the sweet truth, “God is my Father!”
Throughout the course of my life, there have been seasons where I could almost physically feel the hand of God holding mine, moments when I knew He was right there with me. Whether it’s seeing a prayer for healing from some deep fears answered or trusting Him to walk me through a season of depression. Psalm 91 has been an anchor my soul grasped onto when I felt I was drowning. He is my shield and fortress and always there when I run to Him! The tangible presence of grace that has saturated my life at times was powerfully overwhelming, and for that I am grateful.
Fatherlessness is messy, beautiful, frustrating, yet incredibly sweet all at the same time. How could I begin to describe it? It is crying painful tears weeks before your wedding knowing your daddy won’t walk you down the aisle, but instead dancing with your four older brothers at the reception with happy tears flowing down your face. It’s feeling left out in the third grade when the day for “Dads and Donuts” arrived, yet your pastor shows up to fill the daddy role, and all the sudden you’re a part of the club. It is a father figure who stepped into your life knowing he would never replace who your dad was, but still chooses to love you and support you like his own. The list goes on and on. I genuinely believe I would not be the person I am today had God not allowed my dad to be taken away. My dad’s absence has given my family an incredible opportunity to experience the presence of God. He is God of the hills and valleys, and I trust him in both.
My journey with grief it just as personal as my story. It is quite different from someone who lost a father as a teenager. I grieve the idea of having a dad here on earth, of experiencing life with him because I never had that. There are times when all I could think about was the loss, praying my way through the day, asking God to heal my hurting heart. Then there are the days when grief did not cross my mind for a second, yet that still doesn’t mean I am done grieving. It can be a gentle reminder of your life without a dad or hit you with a wave of sadness and pain all in a matter of a day or a week. Grief is like a scar – it will always be there, sometimes more sensitive than others. Keep in mind that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18). If there is someone who understands the pain of loss, it’s our Heavenly Father.
One thing I have learned is that no matter the situation, as a Christian, it is important to trust that God is sovereign. I do not believe God is good because of the way my life has turned out thus far, I believe God is good because that is who He says He is. His character proves to be steadfast despite the pain I have walked through. It would be easy, and I think many would even say expected, for someone in my situation to look at life in a negative way and blame God for what happened. I choose to trust that He has a plan for my life regardless of what He allows. For me, saying I am a child of God has a twofold meaning. God is MY Father; He takes care of me.
Dancing with my brothers at my wedding was very special!
Joey and Amy Apon Carroll