If you have heard my story, you'll know Easter of 1982 was painful. About seven months after I met my father for the first time, he would take me and my twin to church on Easter Sunday. I had not been in church since our baptism at a Catholic church when we were infants, and I have no memory of it.
I didn't even know what going to church was like, but I was excited. It must be special because he bought me such pretty clothes.
Plainly put, my father didn't show up and left a jilted 10-year-old girl sitting on the stoop in full Easter apparel, waiting for what felt like hours. My tights twisted, my feet sweating in my patent leather shoes, my Easter hat tilted, and my neck itchy from the ruffled collar; my heart sank, and I knew something was terribly wrong. This was the day I was going to call him Daddy. I'd finally let my guard down and thought I could love him. What I didn't know was I already did. I paced and sat, paced and sat. I stared at the road, hoping to see him come around the corner.
The following day, our neighbor, who was clearly hungover from the previous night, got out of bed and found me sitting outside. She invited me to her apartment and informed me that my father had left Easter baskets there the night before. He also told her to let us know that he couldn't pick us up on Easter Day. The Easter baskets were the biggest and best I'd ever seen. They were stuffed full of goodies and not just candy. They had toys in them. A basketball for Tony, and I can't remember what was in mine. But they were fancy. I returned to my house, angry, afraid, confused, and so distraught that when I got into the house, I threw the baskets on the kitchen floor and went into the living room, determined to get answers. My mother rocking in her chair, still in her housecoat, smoke billowing above her head, just looked at me. She didn't say a word. I told her what our neighbor said, and she shook her head. I asked her why he wasn't coming, and she said she didn't know. If she didn't have any answers, I was going to get them. So I called him.
He answered the phone. I asked him why he wasn't coming to take us to church. He said he left Easter Baskets next door and wouldn't be coming. I asked again why he wasn't coming, and he took a long draw off his cigarette and said Tammi, honestly, I don't know who your father is; it could be anyone because your mother is a tramp. But, I am not your Father. He hung up.
My heart shattered as my anger rose. I slammed down the phone, crying, and told my mother what he said and asked her what he meant. She insisted that he was lying and making excuses, that he was our father and someday he'd regret his decision. I didn't believe her. After all, she taught me to lie, so I couldn't be sure she was telling me the truth.
This story happened over 41 years ago, and even with my memory fading with age, it's still crystal clear to me, now without the pain. I was a confused child and knew I wasn't getting the whole story. So I blamed myself. I became convinced that I had done something wrong. I would live many years trying to disprove the message I got that day: I wasn't worth defending, caring, protecting, or loving. I wasn't enough. The amount of damage I did, attempting to be enough, would prove fatal in some ways. It would take the intervention of a Holy Father to save my life and heal my heart. An orphan heart.
Recently I was invited to speak at a Youth Night at a local Church Iglesia Casa de Reconciliacíon | which does a lot of good in our community. I met their Youth Pastor several months ago in what I can only call a divine appointment. We connected almost immediately and had a powerful time in the Lord at a local nonprofit in the City of York. So when she asked me to speak, I said yes. The typical audience I speak to is not young people, but I love it when I do.
After work this afternoon, the Lord instructed me to go to a local Burlington Coat Factory and buy a bunch of journals with scriptures/faith themes. I was instructed to write a message of hope and encouragement in each one. Keep in mind, I don't know these young people, so my inscriptions were blind, so to speak. I relied entirely on Holy Spirit to guide my hand.
Journals in hand, I arrived a few minutes early to the church, greeted by her incredible smile and a warm hug! The service started late, but you must be flexible when working with teens. Sometimes they operate in a different time zone than most adults.
I spoke for about 55 minutes, and as I did, I engaged them in telling my story. I asked questions and invited them to ask as well. The central theme tonight was around the Easter Sunday rejection story. Basically, how the enemy attempted at every possible crossroad to embed messages of rejection - unworthiness into my heart through very painful experiences as a child, adolescent, and young adulthood. As I spoke, I thought it was strange/unusual that most of my talk centered on the broken parts. I usually share those stories for 1/3 of the time, spending the 2/3 left in testimonies of what's happened since I was saved. Tonight that was flipped. But I trust God, so I try to go with what Holy Spirit is doing and not get in the way. They were so engaged and insightful and a wonderful group to spend time with. I am so blessed.
After finishing my speech, I concluded with a prayer and distributed the journals. I searched for my friend, but couldn't find her. Suddenly, she tapped my shoulder and appeared behind me, holding a big Easter basket filled with gifts, including girly presents and biblically inspired items. Her gesture of appreciation surprised me. I'm used to receiving gifts/love offerings as the guest speaker, but I never anticipated receiving one tonight. It was a sweet surprise. I thanked them - hugs -hugs-hugs.
We prayed and anointed those present with oil and prayed over them as the Lord instructed. Afterward, it was to the fellowship hall for snacks and fellowship. We enjoyed delicious food, and I heard some of the young ladies stories. They are so precious. What an honor for this old lady. :) I'm 51, and many of them were between 15-21 - so yes, I am the old lady in the group.
It was time to leave, so I said my goodbyes. I loaded the basket and my belongings into my arms and headed out. As I walked out and got into my car, it hit me.
I was given an Easter Basket
Look at it for yourself. It's not a traditional gift basket. It looks like a little girl's Easter basket. WOW!!! Father God, you never cease amazing me in the ways you show me; you love me and have not forgotten; you are with me now and were with me then. This is the best Easter Basket ever.
Don't get me wrong, the Lord has long ago healed that Easter Sunday pain, but to get a gift like this - when he knew I would focus my speaking so heavily on that area of my testimony tonight, is such a confirmation - that God knew exactly what he would have me say - so that when they gave me this thoughtful gift, it would have so many meanings and ways of blessing me. God is not bound by time. God will reach into your yesterdays to bring a fresh fire, revelation, healing, deliverance, word, and hope to you and those he trusts you.
My father and I would eventually come back into each other's lives and spend many years getting to know each other. When he returned to my brothers and my life, he would have two children - a boy and a girl, our half-siblings and three stepchildren. Almost 20 years later, I learned that he never came on Easter because he had met my to-be stepmom the night before. He would marry her not long after they met. Looking back, I am grateful for my younger brother and sister. They are a blessing, and while I don't consider that a legitimate reason to leave children as he left my twin and I, I do see the good that came out of it. Daddy died in 2012; we were fully reconciled and loved one another. He was a believer, so I know I'll see him again in Heaven.
Friend, I pray this encourages you to trust God with your yesterdays, today's, and tomorrow's because he's in all of them, and you are never alone and HE IS crazy about you, loving you with perfect love!
2 Chronicles 20