When I was thirteen I happened to have a boyfriend who was twenty-three. I say ‘happened’ because I really don’t know how it came about, not even remembering liking him that much. He was just there and one of the very few white boys in Ndola in 1977. We were at a friend’s house when my dad walked in and eyed Tommy with his arm around me as we were sitting on the couch. If looks could kill, we would both have been dead. We were forbidden to see each other again.
Well that was easy as we were leaving the next week: moving to Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, about four hours away. We moved onto a farm property outside of town and were enrolled in the International School of Lusaka. So that should have been the end of the story. But it was not. Tommy and his friend Graham came to see us. We picked a hiding place to leave notes in hopes of meeting . I don’t think we ever met, at least I don’t remember doing so. It honestly was not that important to me.
What I do remember is my dad walking into the living room one day and dropping the letters on the floor in front of me. He just looked at me and in that moment my heart sank and my blood pressure pumped wildly in my ears. I had been caught. Daddy turned around and walked into his bedroom and shut the door.
I waited. What would my punishment be? I don’t remember caring about Tommy. I never even asked what happened to him as I only cared about what the ramifications were for me. After a few hours of suspense and fear, I ventured into my Daddy’s room, totally unprepared for what awaited me. He was laying in his bed crying. He never shouted at me, never lectured, just cried.
I told him I was sorry and his only response was, “You have broken my trust and it will take a while to rebuild.”
My father is a wise man. I never wanted to disappoint him after that.
That was the first time I remember my Daddy crying. He cried again the day he left me at college when I started my freshman year. He cried when he said goodbye at the airport to return to Africa, leaving my sister and me in the United States. He cried when my granny died and when the doctor told us my daughter did not have cancer after all. He has a tender and very wise heart.
I have no problem accepting God as my father because Daddy is a godly man and exemplifies my heavenly Father in such a way as to make me only love God more. My dad extended grace and forgiveness, love and sacrifice. He made me feel beautiful and loved. When I read in 1 John 1:3, “How great is the love the Father lavished on us that we should become children of God” I rejoice and believe in it. I trust in God’s total mercy and forgiveness because I experience it in my earthly father as he lavishes love on me to this very day.
I am older now yet I still want to make my daddy proud. I want to keep his trust and never want to make him cry again.