Disclaimer – This is part 2 of 5, so bear with me 🙂 Part 3 will be up Friday and then I’ll do my best to get part 4 and 5 up within the following week! Thank you for being patient with me x
So here we are! I left you with the crazy reality that I had found my dad. After our first incredible conversation on the phone, my mind was blown.
In those 90 minutes I found out so much about where I was from. I found out that I had 6 brothers and sisters, had nieces, nephews, cousins, aunties, uncles….the lot.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, as much as this search was about finding my dad, it was just as much about (if not even a little bit more) finding out if there were others I shared blood and heritage with. Finding out whether the things I sensed and dreamt of as a kid were true or made up stories in my head that I created to flee the sometimes harsh reality of life.
Turns out, a lot of them were true.
I remember always wishing I had an older brother and sister, feeling like my brother (the one I grew up with) wasn’t my only sibling, feeling like I was part of a massive family – but there was no proof of that until that fateful Wednesday night on the phone to my dad.
That night I found out that I didn’t just have one older brother and sister, but that I, in fact, had 3 older sisters (although B and I could practically be twins…but I’m getting ahead of myself!) and 2 older brothers as well as one younger sister.
I found out that my grandma on my dad’s side was a super tall lady (finally I know where I got my height from ha!) and that strong and brave women don’t just run on my mom’s side of family.
I found out that my allergies were inherited, that my love for talking DEFINITELY comes from my dad (if you know him you know it’s true ha!) and that all the connection I had felt to the history of our people was true.
The one thing I probably wasn’t ready for (well let’s be honest, I wasn’t ready for any of this!) was how openly my dad welcomed me into his life. He was super eager to share on the phone and answer any question I might have. The first week we must’ve spoken every day.
Not only that, one of the first things he said to me when I asked him what went through his mind when my friend Dan called and asked about me, was this: “Sweetheart, I’ve been praying for you every day since I left. And I knew God would bring you back to me one day.”
Cue all the tissues.
My emotions were all over the shop – was this really happening? Could it be that after 30 years of searching, asking and wondering I had found him?
There were certainly testing moments that early on – the discrepancy in details on the docs I had vs the documents I got when Steph’s dad found him was still something that bothered me.
What if I was getting it wrong. What if he wasn’t the right guy after all? For all I knew, the person on the other side could be a crazy person! I remember vividly sending him the picture of him holding me as a baby and praying that he wouldn’t reply ‘Oh sorry no, that’s not me. You got the wrong guy.’
Or worse, I was so scared he might change his mind about being in my life.
And if he had prayed for me my whole life, why did he never come for me?
Turned out that as quickly as I got answers, new questions arose…
It’s kind of funny because, over the years in relationships with guys (or the sad attempts of those haha) I always got to the point of realising I had daddy issues – fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of being lied to…It’s crazy to think how much a Father or the lack thereof can damage in a person.
So when I suddenly had this man on the other side of the pond who was the guy who – for all accounts and purposes – left me behind as a baby and in that sense was to blame for all those issues, I really struggled to get my head around it all. Sure, I had forgiven and I didn’t hold any negative emotions as such…but being faced with it all – that was a whole different ball game.
That’s why this part is called the in between. Don’t get me wrong, I was SO SO grateful to have found him…but so often when we pray for things, we don’t know the challenges they come with when they come. And we quit as soon as it gets hard. But I was determined to make it through this in between place. I knew that God hadn’t brought me this far to now leave me. There was more in this story…
Be it as it may, there I was. And after a week of phone calls and good night texts reality started to sink in – he was ready to be in my life and it seemed like he was for real.
I remember one night we spent on the phone going through all of his Facebook friends (side note: I had searched Facebook high and low with the info I had and he NEVER came up. Goes to show that good privacy settings do work ha!) and he would show me pictures of my siblings and extended family. It was the craziest thing! I had never seen a woman who looked like me from facial features to skin color and all! Every conversation was full of new surprises and with that came the inevitable emotional rollercoaster. In hindsight I have to admit, I had underestimated the sheer force all these revelations would have on my mental health. I had struggled with depression in the past so I knew I had to watch it and I put as many precautions in place as I could…turns out it wasn’t enough. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here I was, talking to my dad, getting texts from him for the first time ever and really starting to feel like I had somehow ended up on the Truman Show and any given moment someone would come out to tell me this was all not real…
But God – and this is where my community came into the picture – I had obviously shared my journey with those close to me. So the day after I spoke to dad for the first time, I found myself on the phone to my good friend and boss Kris pouring out all the thoughts and emotions from the previous day when he says ‘Jess are you going to go meet him?’
‘Well’ I said ‘of course I want to, but I spent all my holiday money on the trip to NYC in January, so there’s no way I can afford that at the moment. I’ll have to save and go next year or something.’
That’s where we left the conversation…No 10 minutes later he calls me back and says a sentence that had me bawl my eyes out in public for at least 10 minutes.
‘Jess, I just spoke to some people, we’re paying for your flight. You can go whenever you like’
I was undone. How could I be SO lucky???
Within a couple of weeks and after countless conversations with dad on the phone, I set a date.
By the time everyone who heard the story and was given the opportunity to chip in, I wasn’t just able to book my flight, but got accommodation and a car sorted for my time in Alabama.
The honest truth is, none of this would’ve happened without the love and care of my community, my people, my tribe.
What I loved most about the early days of this story was the feeling every time I got to share it. I knew from day one that this adventure wasn’t just about me – I knew this story had the potential to impact everyone who heard it and – no matter how sceptical someone might be – it’d be hard to deny the hand of God in it all. Not just any God. But the God who is Love…
So let me end this part (yes I know you were hoping for more, but you’ll have to be patient) with this thought:
By the time I had found dad and knew I was going to get to see him, that wasn’t even the greatest miracle anymore (even though it makes for the more sensational story ha!).
The real miracle was and is, that the girl that moved to London almost 9 years ago with no plan, no job, no clear idea of who she was, had managed to become part of a tribe. A family that took her in, put up with her dysfunctions, allowed her to grow and heal, become the woman I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I still have heaps of growing and transforming to do. But I remember sitting on my bed one night, trying to process the months since I had made the decision to find dad and couldn’t help but weep for joy. Even if this new adventure was to go horribly wrong, even if what I found in Alabama wasn’t what I was looking for, the whole experience had proven, that the God I had put my trust in many years before that was faithful. That his goodness and kindness even in the absence of my faithfulness overshadowed my journey every step of the way.
That it wasn’t what I brought to the table that made the difference (so opposite our culture!) but that it was solely his undying and furious love for me that had brought me to this place.
At this point I knew that I wasn’t fatherless at all. That even though I didn’t have my own physical dad and may have suffered here and there from his absence, I had a heavenly Father (that’s what I needed him to be, he can be mother too) who was pursuing me with a reckless passionate love every day of my life and who – if I let him – would prepare a path for me, I could’ve never come up with myself.
So wherever you’re at, whatever your faith journey if any – at this point of my story I wouldn’t be doing it justice if I didn’t pause and point you to this Love. It’s right there, waiting for you, available for you to enter in to at any given moment. A relationship with the one who knows you and loves, accepts and likes you still. The one who isn’t high up, far away somewhere, but who became human so he might dwell among us and in us. The One who cares so deeply for each one of us, that he would move a whole family across the pond, just so that one crazy girl might find her dad. Not only that, but who mysteriously orchestrated two men to cross paths some 30 years ago, just so 30 years later their daughters could be each others answers to prayers…
If you want to know more about this Love, please don’t hesitate to ask questions – you can contact me through the blog or post comments below. I’d love to help you in any way I can to encounter this life transforming love…There are plenty of incredible books and places I can recommend…
Anyway, I’m getting carried away.
With all that said. My flight was booked by July and I was due to leave for the US on August, 27th 2018. People would ask me how I felt about it all, if I was nervous or excited…to be honest I was all these things and none.
It’s like when you go to a wedding or a funeral – you kind of never know how you’re going to respond. Would I cry when I saw him for the first time? Would we have stuff to talk about? Would he like me? Would my siblings like me?
In amongst all of this, I had a lot of telling to do. I flew to Germany for one night to tell my mom, called friends who are family all over the world to share this incredible miracle with them…
Before I went on this trip of a life time, I spent a few days at a retreat in France I go to as often as I can. I spent my days there in silence, prayer and meditation trying to prepare for what seemed unreal still…
August 27th approached fast…and the real adventure was only just beginning.
(To be continued)