This sweet reflection comes to us from Stacie Tchividjian.

While on a recent work trip with my husband, I showed a few ladies, who had never met me and didn’t know my life story, a current picture of my parents. One lady commented “They look SO young!” I replied, “They are. My mom had me when she was 15, so she’s only 60.”  I’ve heard the chorus from “Stacy’s Mom” more times than I care to mention. And I’ve been mistaken for being my mom’s little sister throughout my adult life because she “ages well”, as they say. I treasure my parents dearly, so I’m quick to show them off and share them with anyone I can.

The thing that brought a sweet, delighted smile to my face (and almost tears to my eyes) was the comment from one of the other onlookers: “You look SO much like your dad!”

Grinning, I said “Thank you!”

You see, my dad is not my biological father. I’ve met my biological father, Michael, twice that I can remember in my life. Once when I was around 10 and again at age 30. Both instances were, and remain, positive, happy memories for me. I’ve never really missed Michael, or wished he loved me more, did more for me, or showed up in my life more. I’ve never thought of him in a way that left a gaping dad-shaped hole in my heart and compelled me to find him in every man I met. 

I’m not exactly sure why either. The only thing I can come up with is that God has steadily provided me with loving father figures throughout my entire life. Maybe those men kept me from being angry at Michael, and kept me from blaming him for my love affair with performance and for every failed relationship I’ve had. I don’t know. I just know I was happy that I met him, thankful that he saw me when I was 30 years old, and that he was able to meet my two sons.

There are fewer than 10 pictures of Michael in my photo boxes, and I know (as does anyone else that has seen both of us) I look just like him. Dirty blonde hair, big toothy grin, and tan skin.

My mom married a man when I was around 2 years old, and he was the first man I called “daddy.” He was the first to behave as a father to me that I have memories of. He provided for me, loved me, cared for me as best he could and taught me all sorts of lessons I still put to good use with each passing day. I’m thankful for his (and his extended family’s) role in my life and see it as a gift from God.  

My great-grandfather Ernie Wilburn, “Papa,” loved me. I can’t remember a single time I didn’t feel welcomed and wanted in his presence. He was always patient and steadfast. I saw him love the people in our family, especially his wife, my great-grandmother, through thick and thin.

It was in that first decade of my life I learned about Jesus going to Sunday School every week and singing in “big church” on Sunday mornings in a tiny Texas Baptist church. The people around me made sure I knew Jesus was real and that God loved me. And I believed it and continued to catch a glimpse of that love in the many faces of the father figures around me over and over.

But in 1985, my mom remarried. My world as I knew it, as a sixth grader, was shattered. I was hurt, torn away from all I had known and loved, and all that loved me. I was mad and scared. Ripped away from my younger sister and brother. And now I had a “new dad.” A man who, to me, came out of nowhere and all of a sudden I was supposed to like him and even love him?!

Life was painfully foreign. And so was this guy: Donald Ray “Donnie” McCoy, Jr.

And that’s what I called him: Donnie. I no longer had anyone to call dad because the only man I’d called daddy until that point my mom divorced. Additionally, he was out of my life because he wasn’t my “real dad” anyway.  So, Donnie and I began our journey of learning each other and what roles we served in what was now a new family. It didn’t feel like any “family” I’d experienced up until this point. It didn’t have all the people I wanted in it. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t really like him. 

He was a nice enough guy, loved and treated my mom better than I had ever witnessed her being treated so far in my life. He was strong but meek, had an admirable work ethic, and was always dependable and respectful. He was kind to me, but he didn’t know what to do with me- he was newly married and inherited this 12 year old girl! And at that point he wasn’t an actual dad yet—he didn’t have kids of his own. 

Eventually, we got to know one another, and I began to trust him. He wanted to protect me—from the world and from myself. He has been present at all the important milestone moments of my life since junior high. He’s always there for me. I’ve watched him work incredibly hard to give whatever was needed to and for our family. He is a wonderful provider. He was there when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son. He was there to support me through that pregnancy and long after my son Cole was born. He gave me away when I got married at 20-years-old despite the fact he didn’t want me to get married. He not only celebrates the good times with me, but he laments the terrible ones alongside me too. Not just for me, but also for the lives of my sons. He has held me up through the worst life moments I’ve had, even when he didn’t know how he could stand himself through great heartache. He greets me every time I come home with a forehead kiss and a warm, long hug that is unlike any other on this planet. He’s literally always happy to see me. He knows me and he loves me.

It was when I was in my late 20’s that I officially started calling him “Dad.” I couldn’t fathom calling him Donnie like everyone else anymore. He was my dad. To me, he stood for everything a dad is. He is the man that God equipped and placed in my life to specifically fill that role in every way that he has. God used this particular imperfect man to show me parts of Himself that I otherwise would not tangibly know.

I’m thankful for the many other father figures I’ve had throughout my life—biological or otherwise. But the one man I’m certain God has used to show me more of His many faces than any of them is my dad, Donnie Ray. I’ve learned about God’s nature through him in countless ways. He has been used to share Jesus in the flesh to me.

My dad, without knowing it, has repeatedly, and very consistently, shown me what a dependable, loyal, patient, steadfast, kind, faithful, forgiving, supportive, sacrificing, caring, accepting and loving God is like. God IS all the best parts of my dad. My dad’s most glowing and loving qualities ARE God here with me.

You may not have an earthly dad like mine, but I assure you, our Heavenly Father is more than we can imagine! He is a welcoming, supportive Father whose arms are always wide and waiting to embrace you, not only on the good days but on the bad days too—all the days in all the things. His kindness compels you to trust Him with every complaint, cry for help, and moment of rejoicing you experience.  He doesn’t always change the situation outside of us, but because of His grace, He deals with the situation inside of us. God’s gaze upon you has everything to do with how much He adores you and nothing to do with how proud you have made Him or how much you’re killin’ it at life. He loves you more than you can fathom or ever desire to be loved. 

No matter what your earthly father is or isn’t, your Heavenly Father IS everything and ALL the things you will ever need in a dad. 

So when the lady said I look just like my dad, I smiled because I know that it isn’t genetics that make our faces look similar, but Someone even greater.