In 2013, I have read four books which highlight the importance of fathers to daughters. Of course, those are the kind of books I SHOULD be reading, given my parental status. [While I am on the topic, the absolute BEST book dealing directly with the subject is 'Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters' by Meg Meeker, which distinctly influenced the title of this post.]
The books, in the order I read them, are:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Moon Over Manifest - Clare Vanderpool
The Diary of A Young Girl - Anne Frank
The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom
Two things stand out as I consider these books collectively. First, that daughters will love their fathers in spite of a father's flaws, many or few. Even for a father who fails regularly, a daughter's love is remarkably resilient. The other thing that struck me was the rarity of the father who is a source of strength to his daughter. In 'A Tree Grows In Brooklyn' and 'Moon Over Manifest', the dads are well-meaning, but weak, controlled by bad habits, unable to be the foundation their daughter's should have. Anne Frank sees her father as a distant, though well-meaning "old" person. This must be tempered by her immaturity combined with their uniquely tragic circumstances that would put any relationship under duress. Though experiencing much the same hardship as Anne Frank, (they were only 10 miles apart during the Nazi occupation of Holland in World War 2), it was only from Corrie Ten Boom that I read of a father and daughter knit together, a strength from a lifetime of living out a deeply abiding faith. Corrie hearing of her father's death is one of the most touching moments in a deeply moving story.
Of course, such reading leads to reflection. What kind of Dad am I? So I am not a chronic drunk or rail-riding bum. Perhaps I am like Anne Frank's father -- a thoughtful, reasonable man who provides for his family. But that is not enough. I want to be the spiritual bastion that Corrie's father was, so that when my daughters launch out into life, or life storms in on them, they will have a sure foundation, a heritage of faith to carry them through.
Words of Wisdom from Corrie Ten Boom's Father:
After Corrie as a small girl asked innocently about an adult topic, he asked Corrie to carry his heavy watch repair bag. She tried to move it…
"It's too heavy," I said.
"Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his daughter to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now, you must trust me to carry it for you."
After Corrie experienced the dread of death when a neighbor's baby died.
"Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam--when do I give you your ticket?"
I sniffed a few times, considering this.
"Why, just before we get on the train."
"Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time."
After Corrie learned in her early 20's that the man she loved was engaged to be married to another woman.
"Corrie, do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked, that means pain.
"There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course a part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel… Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way."