When I was six years old, my parents divorced. Though I continued to live with my mom, my dad was still present in my life after the separation. I stayed at his house on weekends and for one day in the middle of the week.
Despite his efforts to be a good father, when I was seven, he betrayed my trust in a very serious way. This breach of trust marked the beginning of a growing distance between us. When he called the house, I would avoid answering the phone. When I was older, I demanded that I be able to choose when I went to stay at my dad’s house, rather than be forced to go when the custody order mandated me.
When I was in high school, visits gradually became a lot less frequent. I saw him only two or three times a month. When I went to college, the space between calls grew, until I would talk to him about once a semester. My relationship with my dad had become more of a formality than a true parent-child connection.
During my second year of college, I decided to talk to him about the incident from my childhood that I felt had damaged our relationship so many years ago. I hoped for closure, forgiveness, and a chance to start over. I e-mailed him my thoughts and waited for a reply.
Some time later I received his e-mail in reply. Before I read my father’s response, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father that His Spirit be with me as I read the e-mail. This was such an important moment in my life—I was about to see what my dad had to say and what direction our relationship would take. I was scared and felt very alone.
Indeed I was alone, sitting in my room with my computer. I needed support. I continued to pray to Heavenly Father and felt His Spirit. At last I had the courage to read.
My dad replied with a very short e-mail in which he denied any memory of what I was saying and said that it was a really bad time for him to discuss our past.
The way he dismissed something that was so important to me and didn’t seem to want any sort of reconciliation hurt me deeply. I felt deserted by my father, racked with grief over the troubled relationship we had had for more than a decade.
As I sat in my chair sobbing, I felt the Spirit around me. I had never felt my Heavenly Father’s presence so strongly. I literally felt “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). I felt reassured and loved as I sat crying.
My relationship with my earthly father may have been lacking, but my Heavenly Father was with me. His presence is strong in my life. I know He loves me, cares for me, and will always want a relationship with me. I know that He is my Father. And He is not going anywhere.