By the time this post goes public I will be a few hours away from jumping on a plane and heading to Portugal. I quit my job with no other employment lined up. I’m spending a few weeks, in a foreign country, at a stranger’s house, with my father, who I do not have the best relationship with. Everyone thinks I’m crazy & reckless. But there’s more to it.
For a while now I’ve been completely unhappy with my circumstances. My family life is sub par. I graduated from college without an acceptance to a graduate program. No one wants to hire me, and I’ve been trapped in a job that barely makes enough to pay my looming student loan payment, let alone the rest of my bills. I’ve been riding the waves and waiting for a change; but I’m tired of waiting.
I didn’t quit my job to make some sort of a statement, there’s more to it. – I’ve been at the same job for three and a half years now. I was comfortable there. I had friends, I knew the position well, I was in a leadership role. But it wasn’t fulfilling. It takes a special person to commit to a life of retail and not let it chip away at your joy; I am not that person. For over a year now I’ve known that job wasn’t good for my mental health or wellbeing, however it was the perfect job to hold while I was finishing my degree. I remain grateful for all I learned there, and all of the special friendships that I made. Now, post-graduation, I need to find my way into the professional world. I am goal-oriented and future-driven, and I want to have a job that I love more than anything, but how can I focus on something new and something so scary if I am comfortable where I am? Leaving my job and taking a spontaneous European adventure was an opportunity to make myself vulnerable. I can’t stay unemployed for long, that just isn’t practical, so I’ve now created a situation for myself of desperation and trusting the Lord, and I feel one hundred percent at peace with it. When I return I will amp up my job hunt and (hopefully) land a position that uses my talents and my passions and that encourages me, instead of bringing me down. Yes, I quit my job, and I will become better because of it.
I’m not going to Portugal because I want to see Portugal, there’s more to it. – Prior to a few weeks ago, I never thought about going to Portugal. Yes, I love to travel, and yes, I’ll jump at any opportunity to explore Europe, but I have never thought to myself, “man, I cannot wait to go to Portugal.” To be completely honest, I probably wouldn’t have been able to point it out on a map before I Google image searched it (that’s embarrassing, I know). My father has a childhood friend who lives there, and he spoke about taking a trip to visit. Like myself, my dad loves travel and finds joy and peace when in a new country. He hasn’t had to opportunity to travel in years and he wanted to make time to do something that he loves, because after all, everyone deserves a vacation. So when he first asked me if I wanted to tag along, I was hesitant, because there have been countless times that he has been all talk and no action. I didn’t need everyone telling me that he was going to let me down (although people offered their opinions anyway), because I already knew not to get my hopes up until I was actually sitting on a plane somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean. So many people questioned me and asked why I would want to go to Portugal with my father, the man who has hurt me more times than he could know, and what I would do if I got there and was miserable or we got into a fight or he let me down, and then my trip would be ruined. But let me remind you, this isn’t about Portugal.
It’s safe to say that my childhood and adolescence were impacted greatly by the negligence, criticism, and hurtfulness from my father. It is also safe to say that I will be experiencing repercussions of this unhealthy daddy-daughter relationship for the rest of my life. However, it is not fair to me to continue to let all of the hurt and anger build up and feed my resentment. It is not fair that, as a child, I was made aware of things about my dad that I otherwise would have been innocent to, thus changing my perspective of him. It isn’t fair that I was forced to grow up too soon and that not having a caring father became the center of who I was as an individual at a young age. It definitely isn’t fair that I tried to be the best daughter I could be, yet my dad still didn’t acknowledge any of the good in me, and only spoke of the bad. These things are not fair, but they happened, they are a part of my story, and they cannot be changed.
What is left are forgiveness, second chances, and an open heart. And it’s hard.
Staying mad, continuing to foster a negative relationship, and closing off to change is not hurting anyone else besides myself. I am an adult now, but I still deserve a father. I deserve to know him through new eyes, and to form my own opinion of him. He deserves forgiveness, everyone does. Forgiving my dad is something that has been tugging on my heart for years now. I know that God calls us to forgive, but it has been so easy just brushing it to the side and continuing to hold a grudge. The first time I heard Matthew West’s song, “Forgiveness”, it broke me down to tears because it hurt so bad to think about ever forgiving my dad. I didn’t want to think about letting him off the hook or letting him think that all he’s done was okay. But that’s the funny thing about what God calls us to do, it isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. I am ready to forgive.
“even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge, it’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘set it free’”
“so let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace, the prisoner that it really frees is you”
In summary, I am giving my dad a second chance. We’re removing the distractions, doing something that we both love, and opening up our minds to the possibilities that this trip could bring. What’s the worst that could happen? We come home and things stay the same? That our relationship wasn’t restored, that I’ll still feel fatherless? So be it, because that’s nothing different than right now. But this trip could also open the opportunity to talk, to share emotions, to laugh, to explore, to actually enjoy each other’s presence- the normal things that fathers and daughters are supposed to experience. So when you think that I am taking advantage of a free trip to Portugal, there’s more to it.
To you, this looks like running away, but there’s more to it. – We all have ways of taking a step back and rejuvenating. Everyone needs a change of scenery and a period of time to think in a real and honest way. I have become so overwhelmed with everything. I have felt trapped, without direction, and desperately looking for a way out. I know that God will provide for me and all things will work out in the end. Now, more than ever, I feel Him working in my life and preparing me for something great. The way that I am able to rejuvenate is by removing myself from the situation that causes me pain. Change is not going to happen if I continue doing everything the same. I will not sit here and list all of the reasons why my current circumstances are doing more harm than good. I will say that I know that leaving the country, being removed from my friends and my family, barely being able to use technology, and having the chance to work on myself, is the perfect combination for a fresh start. Traveling makes me happy, it is freeing, and it allows me a temporary escape from all that is negative in my life.
I will not lie though, I strongly considered buying a one way ticket and escaping for good. I could very easily land on my feet in Europe, with a job opportunity already waiting, however, when moving there became a very real possibility, I then realized why that would have been running away. Instead, I will use the time I’ll be gone for soul-searching and heart-mending and then return home for a fresh start in every aspect of my life. I need to reevaluate the person I am, and re-center myself to Christ. I need to be a better friend. I need to be more motivated. I need to make something of myself. And I need to discover, and act upon, the plan that was written for me before I was even born.
Whether or not Portugal leads to a huge life revelation, a 180 in my relationship with my dad, a good experience, or a bad experience, I know that upon my return, I will be ready and I will be focused, and I am so excited.
"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
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