By Maura Preszler | Founder of Made in His Image
The most pandemic wound in our world is fatherlessness. Every little girl yearns to be pursued by her father. She desires to be wanted. She asks the questions, Do you delight in me? Am I worth fighting for? Do you want me? Do you see me? Do you value me? Am I beautiful? Am I enough? When these questions are answered through a father appropriately loving, touching, kissing and affirming his daughter she doesn’t need to run off with the first boy who finds her attractive.
But when these questions aren’t answered in an appropriate way, she seeks to find these answers on her own. When a father doesn’t give his daughter the attention and love she craves, her need for male acceptance is bottomless. Often times these unanswered questions lead to eating disorders, depression and promiscuity to name a few. (Please note these struggles can still be present with a loving father, the majority is simply higher without one).
All my life I’ve yearned for love. Craved physical touch so deeply at times I thought I’d explode without it. Ached for it, yet feared it with every fiber of my being. I was abused so much I didn’t even know what good physical touch should feel like. As a little girl and teenager I was never told I was beautiful or enough. These unanswered questions left my curiosity with a hunger that couldn’t satisfied my heart.
I searched for these answers on my own. I thought if I achieved a certain weight I would feel beautiful and enough. But the truth is, the more weight I lost the more empty I felt. My quest to find beauty could have killed me. I got so sick that I could literally hear my heart struggling to beat. I was petrified. One night I took my pulse and it was in the high twenties. I fought back tears because I was afraid my heart wouldn’t be capable of handling the energy my tears would produce. My bones were protruding, I was freezing, my hair was falling out in clumps, my finger nails were purple and I had fine hair growing all over my body. I was killing myself. I thought if I could reach a certain number on a scale I would be happy and fulfilled. Yet all my heart ached for was to be held and told that I was beautiful.
In college I pursued men because I wanted to be noticed. This left me feeling even more empty and alone. Every guy I dated was addicted to pornography. What the heck was wrong with me? Was this my fault?
Then a guy wanted me to get plastic surgery. When he mentioned those words my heart froze. I felt gross. So does this mean I’m not beautiful? You don’t like me just the way I am? You don’t think I’m attractive? You think I’m ugly? Even though I never considered plastic surgery, those were painful words to hear.
Then I was violated again by a man. I wanted to kill myself.
Then, I went to India and it was there that I found the answers I was so desperately searching for in all the wrong places.
I never knew that God the Father loved me and didn’t even really know He existed. In India, Eric Clark, a FOCUS missionary at the time, gave a talk about God the Father’s love. I broke down and wept. I had never heard about a love like that before. I couldn’t fathom someone loving me the way in which Eric described how God loves us. He used adjectives to describe God the Father that were foreign to me. He said God was gentle, loving, merciful, understanding, compassionate, and that He adored us (His creation). It was exceedingly challenging for me to digest what Eric was saying. But there was something about God the Father that captivated me. Even though I didn’t know Him or understand how He could love me, I yearned to with all my heart. I desperately craved love. And not the counterfeit love that the world offers, but genuine authentic love – the love of the Father.
After Eric’s talk I went up to him, Eric I want to know God like that. Can you teach me? One of the things Eric told me was that in order to know God, I must frequent the sacraments. So I made a commitment that I would attend daily Mass, go to adoration and confession more.
It certainly wasn’t overnight but my relationship with God the Father changed my life.
As I healed I learned that my validation of beauty and sense of acceptance isn’t the width of my waist, my BMI, how fast I can run a mile, the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend or the fact that I do. I can never quench my yearning to be loved through the number that flashes back at me on the scale. My worth comes from my intrinsic dignity as a human being.
I want to lovingly encourage you that no matter where you are with your relationship with God to make a commitment to get to know Him more. If you don’t pray at all, then pray for 5 mins. If you don’t go to Sunday Mass, then go this Sunday. If you already go to Sunday Mass, then pick an extra day to go during the week too. Pray the Rosary and if you’ve never prayed it, that’s okay, just start. Take little steps each day at furthering your relationship with God the Father. And sit in silence too and ask Him to show you who you are as His daughter. He sees beauty in you. Tell Him you long to see it too.
God adores you. You are precious to Him. You are His daughter. He loves you so. And He desires to lavish His love on you. You are beautiful, wanted and loved. You are enough.
I would go to Adoration and just sit there in silence. Daily I would ask Him, oftentimes in tears, to show me the beauty He sees in me. I would beg Him to show me His love. Then I would just be still. He showed me His love and how beautiful I am because I’m His daughter.
I’m far from perfect and I definitely don’t have it all together, but I still do these things daily and will for the rest of my life. A lot of women have told me that they think if they had a boyfriend or husband everything in their lives would be better. This is not true ladies. The truth is, if I didn’t first and foremost find my identity and beauty in our Heavenly Father I would never believe my husband when he tells me I’m beautiful. Never. No exceptions. You must find your beauty and worth in God first.
Read the book The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. It changed my life and I know it will change yours too.
And don’t forget, no matter what you have done, the Father adores you. He died to take your sin. You are His creation. He created you out of love, to be loved. He has a plan for you! You have a purpose. Go to Him. He is waiting with His loving, compassionate and gentle Arms to forgive, heal and restore you.
Worry about finding a man to love you?
God created the universe, surely He didn’t forget about your future. And remember, you are worth waiting for. You are worth a man who will fight for you. A man who will protect and cherish you, a man who will truly keep you safe in ever sense of the word. Of course it’s important to keep in mind that no man is perfect and we shouldn’t put fairytale expectations on them, but they should strive to show you God the Father’s love through their attributes. Wait for a man to honor you for the beautiful gift that you are. The man God has for you won’t pressure you to have sex, he will wait patiently until your wedding night, so you can both give yourselves to each other as a sincere gift of self. Don’t ever conform to immorality to attract a man. And if you have sinned in the past, then go to confession and begin again. You are worth more than that. In fact, your worth is beyond human comprehension.
Also if someone is pressuring you to change your body, remember that plastic surgery is like saying, sorry God, but you didn’t make me good enough. I think I should help you out there and make a few changes. Satan throws lies at our insecurities all the time saying we aren’t good enough. But confidence in God, can and will, combat those lies. In order to do that, you need to be firmly rooted in who you are. Ladies, don’t let society mold your confidence.
Today I’m married to a man who pursues the Lord, a man who is a servant leader, a man who pursues me by first and foremost loving the Lord. He was worth the wait. At times I never thought I’d find him, but it was Jesus who brought us together. We have a seven month old son named Pio Matthew who bring us so much joy! Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell my college age self to be patient and that God had it all worked out. I can’t do that. So I’m telling you.
My last nugget of advice to you and something I have learned over the years, don’t search for your father’s love everywhere, find it in the Father.
P.S. You are enough.