It’s pretty common to see strained Father + Daughter relationships featured on both the big and little screen. It’s a typical story of,
“But Dad, I love him!”
“You can’t tell me what to do—you’re not the boss of me!”
“I can’t be your little girl forever. Just let me go.”
“You were never there for me.”
While I understand that it’s a reality that many face and can relate to, I can’t help but feel blessed when I look back on the memories I’ve shared with my own Father and find that none of those phrases were ever uttered. My dad was actually my best sidekick, growing up. I am a Daddy’s girl through and through. I don’t just mean that in the vein of always getting what I want and wrapping Daddy ‘round my little finger, though I have had plenty of those moments. I mean that in the vein that he taught me how to be a respectable young lady who fights for justice, peace, and continuously looks for the good in people. He still let me have my boy crushes—without embarrassing me in front of them, might I add—and my emotional meltdowns, but through it all, he steadily reminded me that when I’m hurting and lonely, his loving arms are there to hold me through it all.
My pops has been such a huge part of my growth as a fairly well-balanced person surrounded by hardships on all sides. As I faced all of the questions and complexities of adolescence, I knew I could count on my dad to point me in the right direction. Together we met face-to-face with tough life decisions, like my choice to NOT attend a traditional college, but instead to pursue an education at Master’s Commission of Austin—a hands-on ministry training program. When family members on my mother’s side of the family grew to believe that I was not interested in men because of my single lady, childless, status, my father reassured me that I didn’t have to fit that certain mold and that I didn’t have to let their completely absurd generalizations set me back or label me as “less than.” He encouraged me to live every day as if it were a new adventure, treasuring every moment as if it were my last. We debated some of my toughest non-/convictions and He graciously listened and helped me see a different perspective, yet always allowed me to make an ultimate choice for myself as to what I truly believed was the wisest thing for me. He encouraged me to keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep believing for the best!
In return, I kept him on his toes and kept him young with my pranks and shenanigans. I mean, c’mon, any dad that lets his grown daughter smash a cupcake on his cheek for fun is pretty awesome—just sayin’! I love that he still knows how to have fun! Even as adults, we play games together. One of my favorites to play with him is a car game. As he drives and focuses on the road ahead, I will stare him down from the side and then, just as he turns his head to see what I’m up to, I’ll snap my head away as if I wasn’t watching at all. We keep doing this until he catches my eye and says, “Gotcha!” Then we laugh and laugh and laugh, enjoying our complete silliness! I also went through a season of life where a whole lot of my friends continuously referred to him as Mr. Amanda, and he would always answer to them, not offended in the least that the focus was on my name, and not necessarily his. Instead, he laughed at it and encouraged it!
He has also GREATLY influenced my life spiritually! My faith was not found in a church pew or a revival service. It wasn’t found in a dish of Holy Water or in a Sunday School lesson. It was found at 3 a.m. when my Father drove over to my best friend’s house to rescue me from a slumber party because I had an allergic reaction to their dog and couldn’t breathe. It was found in a hospital bed in the form of a giant teddy bear to cheer me up after having an intense kidney surgery. It was also found years before that on a cushy bed, covered in tears and cries of agony, where he changed my wound dressing after an emergency appendectomy. Through every meltdown, his unconditional love has been a rescue. Through every disappointment, his hopeful encouragement has been a healing salve. Through every shining moment of success, his pride and congratulatory spirit have carried me from one stepping stone to another. Because of the love, encouragement, discipline, and understanding of my earthly father, it’s easier for me to embrace the love of my Heavenly Father. My dad, Ramon Martinez, Jr., is my very own “Jesus with skin on.” I could not be more blessed to have him in my life!