She Wanted To Please Daddy
by Robin Swoboda-Wagner

She was so happy. This is the report card she had been waiting for. "Surely my Dad will be happy with this," she thought as she tucked it into her book bag. During the long walk home her mind played the scene over and over. "Look Dad! I got all A's on my report card!" "Oh, honey I'm so proud of you," he'd say. "What do you say we all go out to dinner to celebrate? I know money is tight but this is worth a celebration. Tell your sisters and brother to grab their coats. I'll go get your Mother."

When she walked into the house her father wasn't there. Maybe he's working a second shift she thought, pushing out of her mind the likelihood that he had stopped at the corner bar to down a few with friends before coming home. She eagerly awaited the sound of the old Chrysler chug, chugging up the street. When she finally heard it she couldn't contain her excitement any longer and ran outside to meet her father at the curb her prized report card clutched tightly in her fist. "Dad! Dad! Wait 'til you see this!" she yelled. "My report card! It's my best one yet!" Her father steadied himself against the old blue car, the smell of liquor on his breath mixing with the humid air and his cigarette smoke so that a cloud seemed to form around his mouth. "You got all A's, huh?" "Why haven't you ever done this before? I bet it's the last time you'll ever do it, too. You'll never amount to anything you big dummy."

The words hit like daggers, still embedded in her heart as she threw herself down on her bed where she would sob herself to sleep. There would be no dinner, no celebration, and no words of praise from her Daddy. All she ever wanted to do was to please him but she would never be good enough. Never.

That girl was me. It took me years to get over the performance trap, of believing that I had to be good enough so that I would be accepted by my father, a boyfriend, my friends or my employer. For years that kind of thinking kept me in an emotional state equivalent to sobbing myself to sleep.

Like many of you, I equated God with my father. I knew He was Lord and Judge over all but I thought that He had the same critical eye that my Dad had. I knew there were things I had done that were much worse than a messy room or getting two B's and a C on my report card so how could a Holy and Righteous God love me? So for a long time I ran from God and resisted His presence in my life.

It was in 1989 that it happened. A Cleveland publication had featured me in its June issue. It was quite apparent by that article that I was searching to fill the void in my life with astrology, reincarnation and other New Age beliefs. After reading about me, many Christians were persuaded to write me at the TV station where I worked. Their letters told of Jesus Christ as being the only way to heaven and the only way to fill the void in my life. Their letters were filled with love the likes of which I had never before seen. There was no condemnation, no performance requirements, just love and a gentle nudging to check out the Source for their words, the Bible. I did just that reading a little of the Bible each day. (I had long thought that a Bible should be in every home, I just didn't know that you were supposed to actually READ IT!) Always in the back of my mind was the thought that God could never love me and that I could never be good enough for Him to love me. "I've done too many bad things," I said to myself.

The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. For one day when I was being particularly hard on myself, I opened my Bible to the first chapter in the book of Isaiah. My eyes fell to verse 18. " Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."

All of a sudden it made sense to me. God could forgive me. He did forgive me in the ultimate atonement for sin, the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Sometimes even now I have a hard time accepting that, after all you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But when I read John 3:16, "For God so loved the world (REPLACE 'WORLD' WITH YOUR NAME) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." I get such comfort and a feeling of acceptance I never got from my earthly Dad. Can I ever be good enough to win His acceptance? No. None of us can. The good news is we don't have to. He loves us anyway because of the blood of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. Now that is something to shout about and a great reason to celebrate. Don't you agree?

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