Learning His Heart
Last year, a group started online that brought the most incredible women into my life (so to speak). That group was full of the most fiery, passionate, talented, and brave people I've ever come across on the Internet, and quite a few of them quickly became good friends of mine.
This girl is one of them. From the start, she went out of her way to not only encourage and pour out love, but to intentionally get to know these ladies (myself included) and connect with them in ways that were genuine and meaningful. In a sea of compliments and Twitter parties, her words held power that was unmistakeable. She stood out because of how she loved-- humbly, graciously, endlessly, beautifully.
She is hilarious (the stories she tells on Facebook about her life will make you crack up, I'm not kidding), she is selfless (she was a nanny like I was to two little ones who she poured heart and soul into day in and day out), and she is gold (she just is). Her words on her blog have floored me time and time again.
Even though I've never met her or hugged her in real life (but let's be honest, we wouldn't hug because hugs are gross), I am so grateful to call this woman my friend. She has added so much goodness to my life.
I'm so honored to share Jordan's story with you.
Hello friends, I’m Jordan. I’m originally from Iowa but moved to Nashville, Tennessee on a God filled whim about three years ago and could not be more grateful for it. I’m almost 25, and absolutely love long talks around the kitchen table about things that really matter. I dream of being a writer and a speaker who isn’t afraid to dive into these hard places but brings armloads of laughter and encouragement in too. Some people might say I have an “unhealthy attachment” to comedic sitcoms, but I prefer to call it commitment. Let’s be real life friends and you can decide for yourself.
My dad is a really awesome guy. Every ounce of compassion, every heart-beat of service that reverberates in my bones is an echo of the sounds in his. I love my dad so much and I spent a long time wanting to be just like him. His stories of the sweet people he took care of, people with special needs, captivated me as much as they broke my heart. I never got to meet these people in the stories my dad would tell me. But I grew to love the sound of my dad’s voice when he talked about his people enough that the stories of their lives led me to pursue a degree that allowed me to follow in his footsteps.
But, I haven’t known where my dad was for most of my life. My parents divorced when I was in preschool, and after a few on and off years of my sister and I spending every other weekend with him at our old mobile home, they just stopped. I knew my dad had a drinking problem but I didn’t really understand how drinking something could take him away from me. I didn’t know how those many sips left him unable to keep a job, unable to keep a license, unable to see me and be my dad. I didn’t understand how he could spend all day taking care of these funny people he always talked about, but couldn’t come home and take care of me, too. I didn’t really know what all happened.
I would often ask questions about the man my father was. I would beg for stories from my tiny years that included him. I tried so hard to learn more about who he was and who he wasn’t. On the days he promised he would call and I would sit beside a silent phone, my mom would hold me close and whisper stories about how loving he was to us when we were babies. How happy they were on their wedding day. How sad he was that he couldn’t stop this drinking, and how much he wished he could be different. We would get a card or two every few years for Christmas and our birthdays. Every once in a while he would break the silence and call or surprise us at our school as we waited for the bells to bring us inside and start our day. On those occasions he never once forgot to tell me exactly how much he loved me and missed me and prayed that things would change. I never left those surprises feeling unloved, but as the sunny glow of the brief reunion faded, the emptiness that constantly hid right below the surface would always come back. As I grew to know that emptiness more than I did his presence, I began to give into that heartbreak and see things through a darker lens.
A couple years went by after the divorce and we were a family of four again. We lived in a blue house on the main street of a little Iowa town, and I walked to first grade every morning with my best friend who lived across the road. I loved to be over at her house because I didn’t always like to be at mine. The man who swooped in with a superhero’s cape, said he loved my mom and had promised to take care of us had revealed his true colors and left us trapped in his home. He told us repeatedly that our dad didn’t want us and left so he could take care of other people instead. He hurt us deeply and tied our minds up in knots so tight, we’re still trying to untangle them all.
After almost ten years we were able to escape that blue house and I entered my teenage years in a brick townhouse. It was our first true home for my mom, sister, and I. A home that held our rebirth of joy, freedom, and laughter. But still, it didn’t hold my dad. As I continued to shake off the years of pain, my mom would lovingly point out all the good things about my personality that were just like my dad’s, and even though I still loved him, I began to fear that I would end up just like him.
For the majority of my life, so many prayers have been said to a God who I could never quite call Father. So many times I would reach out to him with a sinking feeling that I would be left hung out to dry, asking questions that I just knew would always be answered with that painful silence that had taken residence in me. I would read so many promises that the Bible said God had for me, but all I could see through broken pieces of my heart was the son he had sacrificed on the cross. A son who cried out for mercy, was met with silence, and left to die. I believed in this God, and loved him in a way that showed humbled respect, but I was wary of his heart.
When I was twenty my heart began to soften towards my creator. I began to allow myself to explore who he is but only from a safe distance. I started feeling him whisper into my ear and tell me words of love. I allowed myself to slowly give more and more of my time to him, and begin to entertain the thoughts of him as a father. I started my blog, Trusting Adventure, as a way to write out and process how he’s working in my heart and to trust this adventure he has for me. I slowly moved away from the community I had grown up in and made my way to Nashville. About a year ago, as he continued proving his faithfulness to me over and over again, he brought me to a place to call home, free of cost, two weeks before my lease was up at my apartment and my bank account would hit zero. I moved into a domestic violence shelter and had a chance to speak the same words God had whispered into my ears to women and children with the same rips and tears on their hearts that I had on mine. I continued growing with him and fearing his abandonment less and less. He never stopped speaking into my heart.
He’s brought people into my life that challenge every aspect of him that I thought I knew. He brought me to The Belonging, Co. a church whose practice of their faith allows me to be adventurous and fall much deeper into my own. He brought friends in who love me and care for me like family and speak scriptures directly into my heart. He’s opened doors and walked with me through them and closed them after leading me out. He spoke through my people that twenty-four would be a major turning point in my life and he’s sealing a season of hurting, a season he never intended for me but used and flipped around completely for my good, on my twenty-fifth birthday.
I still struggle to really, truly call God my father. I’ve held a lot of disappointment towards him and have held so much of my heart back from him. Recently the Holy Spirit moved in me to forgive my dad. To release him from the blame of the years in that blue house. To honor the living God who is working in him and love him for everything he is instead of hold what he wasn’t in my hands. I’m so lucky to take after an earthly father who is a beautiful picture of selflessly loving compassion, I couldn’t be more thankful for the ways my heart mirrors his. But I’m even more blessed to have a father in heaven who so sweetly shows me the joy he carries for my dad and has never once abandoned me or left me alone. Day in and day out, when I call out for him, he answers. When I choose to trust in who he says he is, he blows my mind with his love. When I need his guidance, he lavishes me with wisdom. And all those times when I remember how my father fell short and the pain I still hold from him, when I run away from the truth of who my creator is, he sends his son. The son that for so long I believed was abandoned on the cross. Jesus comes and helps chip away at the hardness surrounding my heart and reveals it’s true, tender nature, speaking life back into it. He reminds me of how his father wept with the agony of what he had to do, and how his very love brought life back to his son’s body, all so I could breathe that same life someday too. And then, even when I’m basking in the power of his love he does more. He fills me with his Holy Spirit so I’ll never again have to feel that empty, aching, pain of being fatherless again.