names have been omitted in this post,
some descriptions have been changed
It was a Saturday night and I sat curled up in the booth across from him wearing black shorts and an oversized top… September was finally bringing cooler temperatures and we were thankful… with that it was time to indulge in some comfort food. Couples sat in nearby booths enjoying their southern-style meals and our friendly waitress stopped by to refill our glasses of iced tea and water along with dropping off another basket of warm rolls and cornbread. A hot plate of classic meat loaf, mashed potatoes with gravy and macaroni and cheese sat before me. Seated across from me, he sliced into his chicken fried steak and listened while I spoke…
"It was in the weeks after I returned home to my parents from being gone, that he sat outside the house everyday in his Mercedes waiting… " I said, referring to my rapist, as I took a bite of meat loaf.
"Waiting for you to come outside and see him?" He confirmed.
"Yeah" I nodded as I chewed. "My dad said it was embarrassing for him, a Vietnamese guy to be sitting outside like that… for the whole neighborhood to see… the neighbors likely wondering what he was doing out there. He was more concerned with appearances than anything. More concerned with things that didn't matter like race than what truly did matter in life like people's actions." I told him with a resigned look. "He wanted me to get rid of him. I told him I could go talk to him… ride around the block and tell him to stop coming around, explain things to him." I paused and then continued…"I didn't want to be in either place... neither was a good choice... it's bad when you need a third option, when you don't have a good option for a place to live because both are oppressive, not protective. But my dad agreed to me doing that and I went outside, got in his car to talk to him, to tell him to stop coming around."
Across from me seated in the booth, his jaw set, he looked at me and his eyes flashed with anger… "What father allows his daughter to do that?" He demanded. "I would have gone outside with my gun, shot out every single one of his tires so he couldn't drive off and then dealt with him myself."
I looked down at my fork and dabbed at my mashed potatoes, swirling the cream gravy atop it. "Yeah… I went through my years of anger toward him… but prayer helped a lot… I don't feel any anger toward him anymore. On some level I blamed myself initially… I told myself I put myself in a bad situation… what could I really expect? But as time passed I realized that wasn't a valid point. Bao whom I stayed with first always looked out for me. Protected me. He never crossed a line. So people always have the power to be protective or predatory. They make that choice. And race has nothing to do with it. There are people who do terrible things and those who don't no matter what race."I reflected.
He nodded and agreed, listening intently.
"My anger was much more intense toward my father." I told him. "Rage, really. Now I don't feel anything. Just done." I told him, took a sip of ice water and then continued, back to the point. "Ultimately my talk with him didn't go as I thought it would." I said, referring to my rapist. "I really thought I could reason with him. I had returned home without any interference from him but as time had passed he didn't take it well. So I got in his car, I tried to talk to him, my intentions were good, I was so messed up from being with him… I guess what you would call Stockholm syndrome. But… he took off and got on the freeway with me in the car. He wouldn't stop, he wouldn't listen. I told him to let me out. But he wouldn't…" I trailed off.
It was like yesterday… images of I-35 going by in a streak of bright colors lit up in the night from businesses as I peered out the window wishing I wasn't behind the glass. I remember grasping the pale gray leather hand rest in a panic and pleading with him to let me go. Now my mind switched gears from 1994 to the present and I looked at my friend sitting across from me in the booth wearing a ball cap.
He shook his head and looked at me, his eyes pained and his deep voice conveying care… "You don't have to relive it… " He told me, his presence one of warmth, reaching across the table to grasp my hand in comfort. I gently squeezed it back and smiled with appreciation for him.
A daughter… whether she's a girl, a teenager or young woman looks to her father for two things… being provided for and being protected by him. Her father is by far the most important male influence in her life and her relationship with him will set the tone for how she lives her teenage years… her promiscuity or lack thereof, her choices in men and later on whom she marries. But unfortunately father's may make the mistake of pulling away… withdrawing from her life erroneously believing that his wife, her mother can fill every need that must be met. Fathers, if they have sons as well, may put their focus primarily on them hence leaving their daughters out in the cold… leaving her questioning his love, affection and care. Girls and women want affirmation from their fathers that they are worthy and valued. If they don't feel this from their dads they look elsewhere for it… unfortunately often unwittingly in the arms of another man… a man who is not a good choice for them.
A girl sees how her father treats her mother… she is watching and taking mental notes even if not cognizant of it at the time… she is learning by her father's actions toward her mother how a man treats a woman… a woman he supposedly loves. She will note when he is impatient and barks at her mother… she will note when he intimidates her mother with his fist in a wall… she will notice when he drives erratically because her mother voices an opinion he doesn't like… she will live these various scenarios of abusive behavior and will one day look for a man who is just like her father… or at least some similar variation of him.
It's then that the toxic cycle continues and another generation suffers needlessly… when love is not protective and is certainly anything but love… but instead predatory/oppressive.
a person or thing that protects someone or something
seeking to exploit or oppress others
So it begins with fathers… what they say to their daughters, the time they spend with them and how they treat their wives will define whether they are protectors or predatory/oppressive in nature. Words are important and actions are even moreso. It will determine the type of man your daughter will one day marry… lay the groundwork now for who that will be… hopefully a man who would die for her, who will protect her, who will do anything to keep her safe and knows her great value as Christ's daughter.
10 Things A Father Should Tell His Daughter:
1. God loves you.
2. I love you.
3. I love your mother.
4. I'm glad you're here.
5. You're beautiful.
6. You matter.
7. What you think, feel and believe matters.
8. God wants you to wait to have sex until after you marry.
9. Waiting to be sexually intimate until after you marry is what's best for you.
10. No matter what I will always be here for you and love you.
10 Questions A Father Should Ask His Daughter:
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
2. What do you dream about doing?
3. What matters to you?
4. What makes you cry?
5. What makes you laugh?
6. What do you like about me?
7. What do you dislike about me?
8. What do you like about yourself?
9. What do you dislike about yourself?
10. What do you believe about Jesus Christ?
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