My Journey of the last decade and what I learned from it

My Journey of the last decade and what I learned from it

My Journey of the last decade and what I learned from it

This past decade has been an amazing journey that turned into a passionate adventure I would never want to miss.

I got married, gave birth to 4 babies, we (I) settled down by buying the house Benny grew up in, we became owners of our own business, we started this blog to name only a few places we discovered
I love my husband, my kids, I love the beautiful people around me; they make my life so rich and passionate!

Looking back I am amazed and deeply grateful.

But my amazement and gratefulness go beyond the things I achieved.

I haven’t forgotten where I come from. I remember this deep insecurity, this shame about who I am, the struggle about my failures and the feelings of unworthiness. I remember the many lies I believed about myself and God, lies that created strong emotions inside of me which lead me to decisions and choices that brought me deeper into insecurity, shame, failure and feelings of unworthiness.

The decision of getting married to Benny was one great struggle itself:

When I met him, I was the adventurous type of girl. I loved other countries, other cultures, being confronted with new languages, food and customs. I felt alive in situations that were filled with the unknown, the unexpected and the different. 

Benny was quite the opposite.

He never moved out of the house where he grew up. He still worked in the same business where he started his apprenticeship when he was 16. He imagined his future only in Switzerland.


When he joined me to a 6 month trip to Bolivia and Chile in 2008, he had a great cultural shock, struggling with those very same things I loved: The culture, the food, the customs, the unexpected, the many situations one has to adapt to.


But the more I knew him, the more I was amazed about who he is. His heart. His maturity. His stability. His unwavering way of treating me with honor and dignity. His love for Jesus. His heart for me. The many things we could relate to and where understand each other.

I was so torn: What should I do? Marry this guy – go for this dream of having a family but giving up those very things that made me feel alive and free? Or give up this guy and go for those feelings of freedom?

My life turned into one great prayer:

“God, show me what I should do!!”

After several month of struggling, I felt God telling me:

“Jeanne, marring Benny will be the wisest decision you can ever take in this area of your life.”

And because I love Jesus, and because I wanted to be wise – and from my  experience in the past that my emotional world, my feelings and my own heart is not always to be trusted; I decided to marry him.

Today, a decade later, I know that I made the right decision; I deeply know that marrying him was truly the wisest decision I could have made!  However, I learned that “wise” doesn’t necessarily mean easy:


I gave up the life I knew, left my comfort zone and my securities. I left the things that made me feel alive and free.


A couple of months ago, while on a retreat with Benny, we were writing down – each one for ourselves – our dreams and wishes for the future. There were many things I put down: a whole page turned into a bay of hopes and dreams for my future, our future as a couple, as a family, my relationship with Jesus and others.
I included the traveling part. I included the things that made me feel, in the past, free and alive.  However, in the very end I wrote:

“My biggest dream however, is that there will be nothing left of this insecure and helpless girl who feels like a failure, shameful, worthless, undeserving of love, attention and connection.“

Writing those lines, I realized that this has always been my biggest dream. To me, this dream was so much more valuable than all countries I could travel to, all languages I could possibly speak or the beautiful foreign culture I could live in. It was so much more than all the feelings of being alive and free I was experimenting in the past by boarding a plane or getting to know a new culture.


This deep desire each one of us has to love and to be loved.


And I realized that this was exactly what the past decade was all about.

I had to face my fear of intimacy.
I had to look at my failures.
I had to go through those intense feelings of shame and unworthiness.
The way to go was to settle down and simply “be”, learning to be vulnerable and transparent.

Oh boy, that was so scary!

But because I love Jesus and because I wanted to be wise – and because I experienced in the past that my emotional world, my feelings and my own heart is not always to be trusted; I decided to stay on that journey.

And that’s how this past decade turned into the most amazing journey of my life.
And this journey was not about achieving things or status.


Being a wife, turning into a mother, having a house, a business or a blog were not the things that brought me to a place of freedom and identity.


Neither status, nor possession nor any achievement can bring anyone to this inner freedom, the peace and joy I increasingly experience on a daily basis.

Much more, it was by letting go of my ways of self-preservation, by agreeing to face how I was truly feeling about myself and God that I found peace.

And like I wrote in this article, God didn’t transform me into someone else. I didn’t turn into someone brighter, more capable, holier or less flawed than before. Neither did he remove the scares from my life or make me forget painful experiences. I still remember the reality of my past failures and shortcomings.

Rather, he used that past decade to free me from this shame that surrounded my whole being, that determined how I saw myself, others and God.
I will write more on the subject of shame in another article, but let’s have a look at the definition of shame out of the book “facing shame”: 

“Shame is an inner sense of being completely diminished or insufficient as a person. It is the self judging the self. (…) A pervasive sense of shame is the ongoing premise that one is fundamentally bad, inadequate, defective, unworthy, or not fully valid as a human being.”

So God’s way to lead me into freedom was not by giving me some title such as “wife, mother, blogger”. Neither did he make me forget my past experiences, failures and hurts. 

He didn’t turn me into someone that would be brighter, more capable, holier or less flawed than I used to be.

Rather, he leads me into that understanding that he loves me. That he loves all about me, my whole being with all my emotions and deep thoughts and dreams.
That he created me as a unique person, special, capable to walk in the ways He has prepared for me.
That in him, we have the freedom to be, to live, to love and to have life in abundance.
That in him, we are valued, cherished, loved and honored.
Not for what we do. Or the amazing things we achieve. In the same way, we aren’t less loved for the mistakes we make or the times we totally miss the point.

This is true for me. This is true for you.


The more I understand this reality, the more I walk in a freedom I didn’t know that it exists. No adventure, no beautiful country or experience can compete with what I discover trough that journey of facing my fear of intimacy, looking at my failures, going through those intense feelings of shame and unworthiness.

Today I love Jesus deeply and I am so grateful for the place where I am in my life. Looking at my life as a whole – with all the painful experiences, the scars, my own failures and mistakes – I feel a deep marvel and gratitude for a God who set us free to be .

The secret of true freedom

The secret of true freedom

The secret of true freedom

More than 15 years ago I had an assignment to complete:
The task was:

To choose a picture out of several magazines and write down:

1.which person of the picture represents you

2.which person do you want to become

I chose the picture you see here.

I wrote down:

1. I feel like the dog, struggling, fighting against so many emotions and beliefs. Feeling miserable, full of confusion, frustration, feeling overwhelmed.

2. I want to become the one in the front with the red shirt. I want to live, give everything, with identity, unity, faith and passion. 

I know these feelings of shame for who I am. This conviction of being unworthy to be loved.

I remember feeling miserable and undeserving, trying to live up to the expectations of those around me or even the expectations I had towards myself.

I know this painful feeling of shame, pushing me even deeper into that certitude of not being enough, not being capable, being worthless, unlovable.

I compared myself to those around me.

Fear, shame, pain, indecision, confusion, envy, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, suppressing issues, numbing thoughts, passivity and hopelessness… were all a reality of my life.

I was a Christian; therefore, I had heard about God’s love for me.

But somehow, this reality was out of my reach. After all, I knew how flawed I was. I was well aware of my weaknesses and incapacities. I tried hard to get somewhere, to fight my beliefs, to overcome my fears; to face my feelings of shame and worthlessness.
I tried to be a “good Christian”, yet terrified to let anyone get close enough to me to really know me… and discover how flawed and imperfect I truly am.

Today, almost two decades later, I become always more that person with the red shirt. –  living a life of fullness, giving everything, with identity, unity, faith and passion.

What has changed? What reality has transformed my life?
I could tell you about many things that added up to where I am today helped me get where I am today.

About amazing people who loved me beyond my flaws, about insights I got that touched my heart enough to grasp and apply them, about the mercy of God who, in his infinity, gentleness and patience brought me all the way to this point in my life.
However, last Sunday in church during a time of Worship, I realized that there was a deep truth I would like to share with you, a reality that is so life transforming and beautiful I just have to try to put it into words in this article.
Let’s go:


During this time of worship, we sang a song that went like:

…..My Beloved, You’ve captured my heart.

Won’t  You dance with me
Oh, Lover of my soul
To the song of all songs?

With You I will go
You are my Love, You are my Fair One….

 The phrase „lover of my soul“ touched my heart in a deep way.

This is it.

This is the reality that has transformed my life and still does.

There is a God who loves my soul.

A God that sees beyond my efforts, my achievements, my capacity. He sees beyond this image I try to represent on the outside; He sees the true me.

He sees our most hidden needs, longings, pain and dreams.

He sees our biggest failures, our wrong decisions, our compulsions or addictions – even those we are capable to hide from other people.
And still – He loves us!!

He longs to reach out to us, to find us and love us.
When I was seven years of age, I invited Jesus into my life – it was the day my spirit was saved and I became a child of God.

But it was the reality that he was the “Lover of my soul” that led me into freedom in my soul.

It was Him that created me with my unique DNA.
He put a unique essence within me that makes who I am.

He doesn’t see me by my achievements; he sees me for who I truly am, deep down, when no one is looking.

In the Bible there is a scripture that says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ( The Bible, John 3:16 )

It doesn’t say: “He loves the ones who are great achievers, the ones who stay out of trouble and the ones who do everything right; “

NO! It says: He loves the world.
And we all know how messed up this world is.

How messed up you and I can be.

And yet, he loves us!

My relationship with God changed (and still is changing) since I understand more and more that He loves my soul.

The more I enter into this truth, the more does freedom enter my life.

The freedom to be me.

The freedom to let go of the picture of how I need to be – and to become authentic, real and vulnerable to be who God created me to be.


True vulnerability is to be seen, being known and being real. It is coming to term with our weaknesses and embracing them as gifts from God. 


The more I can walk in this reality, the more I can let go of my fears and feelings of shame and inadequacy.

The more I enter into enjoying who God made me to be, the more I feel thrilled to be me: I have moments when I worship God for who he made me to be, simply because I see the blessing I can be in being me.
It comes with the understanding that I can only be me.

Who I am at the core has always leaked out, no matter how much I’ve tried to suppress or change it, believing that it wasn’t enough. Living it out enables me to love, to reach beyond myself. 


We can only do this when we stop to constantly undermine who we are by trying to copy other people and trying to be them


The more I walk in this path, the more I see people around me with those same eyes.
I see their beauty, their unique DNA, their amazing wonderful essence, how God created them to be. I can see beneath their walls or fears or insecurities directly into their beautiful, unique being.

And I love that.

You see, it is truly so:

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself. ”  (The Bible, Matthew 22.39


You can’t love others more than you do yourself.
The more you love yourself, the more you can love others.
The more you walk with freedom, passion, in unity and love.



My prayer for you and for me is that we can experience this amazing God who loves our soul. That we can accept that Jesus died on the cross for us so that we can be transferred into his kingdom. That we can learn to live with royal principles and enter this process of transformation into His image.

We are created after His image and the more we look at him, and let us love by him the more we can all sing together:

…..My Beloved, You’ve captured my heart

Won’t You dance with me
Oh, Lover of my soul
To the song of all songs?

With You I will go
You are my Love, You are my Fair One….

“I thought that this was love” – how to make the difference between love and codependency

“I thought that this was love” – how to make the difference between love and codependency

“I thought that this was love” – how to make the difference between love and codependency

As I wrote in the last article, I had to learn the difference between codependency and love the hard way.

In fact, I didn’t even know that there was a difference between the two.

I knew the word “codependency” but never made the parallel to my own life.


Today, all around me I hear many different stories about “true love”, about finding a “soul mate” and about the belief that happiness in life comes with the “right person to complete the other”. That love is something you can’t escape and are powerless if you “don’t love anymore”. At the same time, stories of broken relationships multiply. Many families are thrown apart because one partner realized that the relationship with their partner never was “true love”. Or someone else entered their life and turned out to be their long awaited “soul mate”, leaving behind a broken family. Couples drift apart and separate by their reality of “we don’t love each other anymore”. Meanwhile, lonely people get into a relationship that fulfills them for the first few weeks and months, but, over time, it changes into a relationship in which they feel trapped, anxious and insecure, yet they are too enmeshed into their partners life to be able to stand up and create boundaries. They are too scared to be alone again.

  • “You made me love you. I din’t wanna do it; I didn’t wanna do it. You made me feel blue, and all the time I guess you knew it… you made me happy; you made me glad. And there were those times, dear, you made me feel so sad…
  • Gimme gime gime what I cry for; you know you got the kind of kisses that I’d die for. You know you made me love you.”
  • You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray…. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
  • “All I want is loving you….”
  • “You’re everything to me….”

“If there were laws against pushing codependent love relationships, pop music would be in prison until the albums rotted. So would a lot of movies and a whole lot of books, both fiction and nonfiction.”

(Hemfelt, Love is a choice, page 119)

You may ask:

  • What is wrong with such intense feelings?
  • What’s wrong with a consuming, almost worshipful attitude toward the person you love?
  • What’s wrong with the realization that you never truly loved your current partner, leaving him for “true love”?
  • What’s wrong about doing what your heart tells you to?

Well. Today I’m here to tell you that this is not love. That this is called codependency.

In her article Darlene Lancer explains this word that way:

Codependency has been referred to as “relationship addiction” or “love addiction.” The focus on others helps to alleviate our pain and inner emptiness, but in ignoring ourselves, it only grows. This habit becomes a circular, self-perpetuating system that takes on a life of its own. Our thinking becomes obsessive, and our behavior can be compulsive, despite adverse consequences. Examples might be calling a partner or ex we know we shouldn’t, putting ourselves or values at risk to accommodate someone, or snooping out of jealousy or fear. This is why codependency has been referred to as an addiction (…)

She tells us about the three possible stages of such a codependent relationship:


Early Stage

The early stage might look like any romantic relationship with increased attention and dependency on your partner and desire to please him or her. However, with codependency, we can become obsessed with the person, deny or rationalize problematic behavior, doubt our perceptions, fail to maintain healthy boundaries, and give up our own friends and activities.


Middle Stage

Gradually, there’s increased effort required to minimize painful aspects of the relationship, and anxiety, guilt, and self-blame set in. Over time, our self-esteem lessens as we compromise more of ourselves to maintain the relationship. Anger, disappointment, and resentment grow. Meanwhile we enable or try to change our partner through compliance, manipulation, nagging, or blaming. We might hide problems and withdraw from family and friends. There may or may not be abuse or violence, but our mood worsens, and obsession, dependence, and conflict, withdrawal, or compliance increase. We might use other addictive behaviors to cope, such as eating, dieting, shopping, working, or abusing substances.


Late Stage

Now the emotional and behavioral symptoms begin to affect our health. We may experience stress-related disorders, such as digestive and sleep problems, headaches, muscle tension or pain, eating disorders, TMJ, allergies, sciatica, and heart disease.  Obsessive-compulsive behavior or other addictions increase, as well as lack of self-esteem and self-care. Feelings of hopelessness, anger, depression, and despair grow.

More than a decade ago, when I felt such strong emotions for this guy I believed I loved deeply, I was sure that this was love. True love.

Because of this conviction that this was true love, I buried the parts of me I felt he wouldn’t like. I buried the dreams I knew he wouldn’t share. I put away thoughts that told me that he was not really the kind of guy I would choose to spend my life with. I rejected any concerns from friends who told me that they didn’t think that this guy was what I needed in my life. Friends, who saw me completely consumed by that relationship.

Simply because, so I thought, true love is more important than anything I could dream or wish for other than to be with him, belong to him.

More than a decade ago, when I felt such strong emotions for this guy I believed I loved deeply, I was sure that this was love. True love.

Because of this conviction that this was true love, I buried the parts of me I felt he wouldn’t like. I buried the dreams I knew he wouldn’t share. I put away thoughts that told me that he was not really the kind of guy I would choose to spend my life with. I rejected any concerns from friends who told me that they didn’t think that this guy was what I needed in my life. Friends, who saw me completely consumed by that relationship.

Simply because, so I thought, true love is more important than anything I could dream or wish for other than to be with him, belong to him.

The tragedy is this:

Our society paints this kind of love as something beautiful and romantic – which is even understandable.

One feels alive. It is like entering into something much more real than any other relationship. Songs, books and movies tell us that this is true love. That we need to follow our heart, and then we know what decision to take.

That’s how marriages fall apart. Singles get themselves into destructive relationships.

People, honestly looking for “true love” are taking decisions that bring them further away from fulfillment, real relationships and healthy marriage and family.

When I began to understand the whole concept of codependent relationships, it helped me understand that this was just it: I was deeply codependent, relationship-addicted. That was not love.

Today, as I am happily married to Benny, I am well aware that my love for him is very different. From the very beginning of our marriage, I knew why I chose to marry him. He proved himself many times to me before we got married. His way of treating me, loving me and taking out the best of me were always a reality in our relationship. The way he treated me made me grow by discovering who I truly am, along with who he truly is. He honored and loved me for my unicity and celebrated me for my thoughts, dreams and hopes.

I was always aware of that, and deeply grateful.

And still. Even some years into our marriage, I longed to love him the way I did this other guy. Because I thought that this was, in the end “true, real, deep, beautiful love”.

Today, ten years into our marriage, I am at a place where I deeply cherish the love Benny and I have for each other.  Understanding that those feelings I had for the other guy wasn’t love, even if they seemed so real to me, made me free to fully appreciate and cherish what I have. I marvel at the person I married. I am beyond words to express how thankful and amazed I am to spend my life with this man. Get me right. I am not in denial of his flaws and imperfections. But I know that his heart, and who he is as a person is the best thing that could ever have happened to me. 


Now: I do know about the possibility that another person capable to create such strong feelings in me still exists today, in my present life. It can happen to anyone, anytime, independent of strong conviction, high moral standard or even genuine love for God and his word.

The difference is that, today, I am well prepared to counter such feelings with the truth that codependency is not true love. That codependency is exactly that: a co-dependecy. A relationship addiction. Something that can destroy your life, rob you of your family and friends. 

Reading through the questionnaire below, I was amazed how many of these questions I would have answered with “yes” in the past. Actually every single question. Therefore, I will include this questionnaire that was created by Adriane Michaud and posted here to help you dig a little further into the subject: 

  • Do you feel responsible for other people—their feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, and destiny?
  • Do you feel compelled to help people solve their problems or by trying to take care of their feelings?
  • Do you find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others than about injustices done to you?
  • Do you feel safest and most comfortable when you are giving to others?
  • Do you feel insecure and guilty when someone gives to you?
  • Do you feel empty, bored, and worthless if you don’t have someone else to take care of, a problem to solve, or a crisis to deal with?
  • Do you lose interest in your own life when you are in love?
  • Do you stay in relationships that don’t work and tolerate abuse in order to keep people loving you?Do you leave bad relationships only to form new ones that don’t work, either?

If you, like me in the past, found yourself answering “yes” to most of those question below, I encourage you to dig deeper into the subject of codependency.

My favorite book about the subject is called “Love is a choice”.
There is a good deal of literature available in English from the famous „codependent no more” to newer ones like  “You’re Not Crazy – You’re Codependent:” or the most recent “courage to cure codependency”.


In the next article I will show you from my own experience how to recognize patterns of codependency in your own life and touch the subject of how getting read of it.

Open letter to the guy that broke my heart

Open letter to the guy that broke my heart

Open letter to the guy that broke my heart

Dear friend,


For a long time, you and “our story” was buried inside me like the wreck of the Titanic on the bottom of the sea – forgotten and invisible, yet part of my story, my past. Even years later, it was very difficult for me to dive to the depth of the sea to look at the wreck of our story without feeling overwhelmed with sadness and feelings of failure.


Letting go of you was the most difficult thing I ever did in my life.
It was like letting go of some sort of drugs. . 

Simply because, somehow, by who you are, you touched deep parts of me I didn’t even know existed. With you, life suddenly became real and worth living.

At the same time, meeting you made me get in touch with that hidden, hurt place deep inside of me.

This part of me which was somehow awakened by your way of being.

I desperately wanted you to love me.

You loved the way I loved you. You loved the way I understood you, I listened to you, the way I gave everything I possibly could imagine to prove you my sincerity. You were amazed at my capacity to “truly love”.

Therefore, you were trying to feel attracted. You saw parts of my heart, my devotion to you and you were impressed by the way I loved you… and you were trying to get to a place where you could answer my love.

You know all that.

The reason I decided to write this open letter is to tell you – and to a society who is lead, through music, books and movies to believe that such an experience is true, real love – that this isn’t love.

This wasn’t love.

Hang on and I will explain:

When I finally had to realize that you didn’t love me in a way that would melt our lives together forever – I was devastated.
To accept that you would never be the one I could hide myself into, nor the one that would make me feel whole as a person turned my life into a dark hole for many months.
Loosing you made me get in touch with this deep hole inside of me that desperately longed to be known, seen, wanted and loved.
I fell into deep sadness and feelings of failure. I finally got in touch with this uncontrollable need to prove myself worthy of love and acceptance – and at the same time this deep feeling of shame, unworthiness and fear of abandonment.

You broke my heart.

More than a decade later,

I am so grateful that you couldn’t love me (that way).
I’m beyond grateful that you were very sincere and wanted to do the “right” thing – you could have used my devotion and longings in ways I don’t even want to imagine.
But you didn’t. Thank you for that.
In that, I’m so grateful that you resisted my fervent attempt to get you into my “game”.

Of course, I wasn’t playing. I thought that these deep feelings had to be love. That this deep longing to be with you had to be real, pure, true love.

I was convinced that being with you would make my world perfect, give my life a sense of being. That my life was all “fake” in comparison to how “real” you were to me!

Today I know better.

I know that this wasn’t love – because it was never about YOU. It was all about me.
Today I understand that I was vicariously showering you with all the love and attention – hoping that you would, one day, fill my emotional needs for love and intimacy that have been running empty in my life.
My worst fear was that I was not good enough to be loved by you.

This fear made me put all the focus on you – I was very capable in molding myself into what I believed (and knew) you most desire.
By doing that, I buried the parts of me I felt you wouldn’t like. I buried the dreams I knew you wouldn’t share. I put away thoughts that told me that you were not really the kind of guy I would choose to spend my life with.
Not because you’re a bad guy. Much rather because who I truly am does not fit into who you truly are. I have always been too much for you. You had visions and dreams in life I didn’t share a bit.

It took me many years to see this clearly.

The first few years into my marriage with Benny I was struggling to let go of that image of “true love”.
I was struggling with letting go of that deep feeling of guilt and sadness every time I ventured myself to that wrack on the bottom of the sea..

  • It was the day when I understood that this whole story was never about true love. That was when the wrack on the bottom of the sea started to dissolve.
  • The day I realized that it was my own emptiness, my own needs, my own hole in my soul that cried out to be loved by you.
  • That all my pain, my agony, the suffering I went through because of you – was never really because of you.

Yes, you did a great job uncovering those needs and that emptiness. But in the end, it was never about you, not even about “true love”.

It was all about my needs, my longings and my voids. Call it codependency.

More on that in the next article.

My father – and how I learned to honor him

My father – and how I learned to honor him

My father – and how I learned to honor him

When I think of my father today, I see a man who is very upright. Someone who would always give his best. He would never do something he knows would be wrong. His moral standards are very, very high. For years, he worked in a job he actually hated, in order to feed his family of 7. My father is a very faithful and exact man. He wanted to please God and walk His ways.

I believe that I chose a husband who has the very same traits.

I’m pretty sure having this kind of experience with these traits in my dad, made me recognize them in Benny.

The essence of who my dad truly is shaped my life greatly.

Today I can see this unique DNA, his unique essence of who he is shining through his personality which is generally overwhelmed with life.
Shining through the many hurts, the many disappointments and the pain he experienced in his life, shining through the many destructive ways he chose in order to protect himself and “survive” a life he didn’t choose.

Today I can see that. I honor him for who he ought to be. For the amazing and unique person God made him to be.

Lamentably, to this day, he doesn’t realize how amazing and unique a person God created him to be and how much he’s deeply loved by him.

As long as I remember, my father struggled with depression.
As a father, he was a very controlling, angry, negative and selfish person. He always felt that his five children were too heavy a load to bear.
He gave us the feeling (and told us so) that we were too much, too loud, too needy, too expensive and that we were all losers and guilty of anything that didn’t go right in his own life.

I could tell you many situations in which we were confronted with this reality.

Years ago, when I saw my father, I felt nothing more than this deep hurt of not being enough to be loved.
His messages (verbalized or not) shaped the understanding of my identity, life in general and God.

I left home with the deep hole in my soul a father should have filled.
I left with this deep insecurity about my identity, my worth, my value and my importance.
I knew that I didn’t want to be like him. I didn’t want to end in depression and anger, leaving the same hurtful impact on the lives around me. 

But the truth is… by rejecting where I came from, I was rejecting a part of me.

I was rejecting the whole package: The destructive ways he chose to protect himself and his unique DNA.

And well, I don’t blame anyone doing that.

I know the deep pain and the feeling of being fatherless, even if my father is alive, sometimes even present in my own life. I know this longing for a father who would be here to cherish, protect, guide and love you.

I took countless decisions out of my hurts and this deep hole in my soul. I lead myself through turbulent times I certainly could have omitted if I would have had a father who showed me that I was valuable, precious and important to him.

But today, I see that my father, by who he truly was, did transmit something other than those painful realities: He transmitted to me this deep desire to follow God, to do what is right. My moral standards have always been very high. I always wanted to please God and walk in His ways.

And God honored this heart and took me on this journey which I am still on today.

A part of this journey was this concept of honoring father and mother. Because I wanted to do what was right, I couldn’t ignore the scripture in the bible that tells in Exodus 20:12 to

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you”.

But I wasn’t ready to cover up how I felt, just for the sake of “honor”.

My father – as correct as he is and as much as he wants to do what is right – was defenseless when, a few years ago, his own father, who had abandoned him and his mother while he was just a little boy, called him daily (and sometimes even several times a day) from his retirement home in France, for nothing more than to insult him. My grandfather was a war veteran. He had experienced his own trauma – and probably because of that – lost his memory as he got older. That’s why he didn’t even remember the call he had just made and he used to call shortly after again. This went on for several months and even years.

As I got to know about those phone calls, I told my father that I would never accept anyone doing this to me. That this was verbal abuse and there was no way I would tolerate this in my life. I told him that, after a few calls like this, I would block the person out, even if it was my own father.
He didn’t understand what I was talking about. For him, this was honoring his father.

I believe that honoring my father is very different.

As God lead me through that journey, I had to face the reality of my Dad’s attitudes in my life. The reality of what he taught me about myself, life and God (verbal and non-verbal) and how this affected my whole being.
It came in layers. First the big things. The way I felt rejected. The way I felt he cared only for himself. Then, the things I realized we were missing, like family vacations. We didn’t take family vacations  even once throughout my whole childhood.

During that process, I knew the feeling of hatred. Of rejecting my dad – and every other person that resembled him. However, ironically, I tried to be loved by a guy who would have never been the person I would have chosen, concerning his interests and values in life. He was not a bad guy – but he just wasn’t the right person for me. Like my father, he wasn’t able to handle me. I was too emotional, too needy, simply too much for him.  Today I know that I simply longed to prove to myself that I could be loved by someone like my father.

Today, I am able to face the reality of where I come from.
And instead of pain, there is gratefulness.
Instead of ashes, there is beauty.

Simply because I have come to realize that today, I am not the fruit of what he (and others) did to me. Not even the fruit of my own wrong decisions, mistakes, failures and incapacities.
My life is a display of the faithfulness of God. Of His love, His grace, His capacity and His compassion.

He took me from my painful reality onto this journey. He fathered me, He guided me, He gave me value, importance, and worth. He showed me His love in countless ways. He healed and restored my soul.

Today, there is freedom in my relationship with my father.

Today, I have truly forgiven him. Forgiveness was a journey in itself and not done by a one-time decision. But more on that another time.

Today, I am well capable to set my limits and to stand up for my integrity, as I explained in that article.

I am free because my dad’s attitudes and hurtful behavior are not determining my identity, worth and value anymore. I am free to see that he tried hard to cope with life the way he knew… always feeling like a “nobody”, a “looser” and “forgotten” by God and men.  

And I recognize those attributes of him that I see in myself, too. And I love them.

I see those positive traits in Benny, and I celebrate them.

I discover those attributes in my children, and I affirm them. 

I know that my father has great respect for me and my family.
I know he thinks that I am doing a wonderful job, and he even told me so.

Lately, I told him:

“You know, I am so grateful that I am your descendant. We both know that there were many things in our relationship father-daughter that were difficult and painful.

However, today, I see those precious attributes of yours. I see this unique person God has made you to be. I believe I saw them in Benny because you displayed them in my life, and I cherish them.

By the grace of God, who you truly are speaks louder in my life then all what went wrong.”

My father didn’t change.
But I am free. Free to honor him for the unique person he truly is created to be and for his heritage I can carry on into the next generation.