"Dad, things aren't right with me."
I don't know how I got into my father's office. I only know that the door was open and somehow I found myself sitting across the desk from him.
I wasn't sure how the words would come. I had been awake all night, trying to figure out how I was going to explain to my parents the thoughts that were running through my brain.
A hot tear rolled down my cheek.
"What's wrong?" My dad spoke gently.
"I don't want to blame you or Mom. I don't want to share with you the pain that I'm feeling because I know you will blame yourselves. But I can't hold it inside anymore."
Now I had an audience with my dad. He was with me. He was listening.
I almost chickened out. I almost said, "Never mind, Dad. It's just one of those teenage emotional things. I'll get over it."
But something wouldn't let me.
I spent the next 45 minutes explaining to my father how exhausted I was.
I was tired of teaching Sunday school. I was sick of playing the piano for services. I didn't like being at the church every weeknight. Mostly, I was tired of seeing how careworn my parents were.
I knew my dad was putting in 40 hours of work even before Thursday arrived. I knew how exhausted he was physically and emotionally.
By the worn expression on his face, I knew Dad was in no shape to hear from me how exhausted I was. But something compelled me to stay in my seat and talk.
It's been a long time since he was a teenager (no offense, Dad). The things I told my father that day in his office were not only related to stresses of the ministry, but also to the pressures of teenage life.
"I've lost a lot of friends this year. I miss them, and I feel like there's a hole in my life that can never be filled. The whole guy/girl thing confuses me. I'm so tired of putting myself into relationships and being hurt. Sometimes you and Mom are busy with church stuff , and we don't see a lot of each other. It hurts a lot when we don't talk."
The tears began to flow from my eyes. "If God is so loving and so kind, why do I feel this way?"
My dad listened to everything I had to say. By listening he showed me that he cared about me , and that my health and sanity mattered to him
The phone rang. There were knocks on the door. But Dad stayed right where he was. Listening.
Somehow, Dad discerned that I didn't need a sermon. I hadn't come to learn how to solve my problems. He didn't tell me I was not spiritual. He didn't give me five steps to reversing Pastor's Kid burnout.
It's funny that, when I think about it, I don't really remember much of what he said that day. Mostly I just remember Dad taking me into his loving arms. My father held his 16-year-old daughter. What a sight we must have been! Pastor, sprawled back in his desk chair with his daughter in his lap, tears staining his starched shirt.
The tears were not only mine. My father cried that day, though he did not speak. In seeing his tears, I knew his heart was broken for me. Perhaps he remembered the trials of his teen years. Maybe he felt how tired I was.
I wish I could say that the conversation in Dad's office solved all of my problems. It didn't. I still burnt out in my service to the Lord. I still made foolish decisions I grew to regret.
But I found new vision that day. I saw that my heavenly Father is always ready, always waiting to hear me and hold me and feel every bit of my pain. I saw that He is never too busy to listen, even to the smallest detail and concern of my heart. As His child, nothing could ever change the way He feels about me.
Communication didn't stop that day with my father in his office either. It wasn't the first time I opened up to him, and it wouldn't be the last.
Over the years I've learned to be honest with my parents. I've also learned that there are rewards to being honest. God never intended for us to hold everything inside.
Not so very long ago, my father held me in his arms for what I believed might be the very last time. Dad was going to have a risky operation performed on his heart.
As I clung tightly to my father, not quite knowing how to say goodbye, I remembered the day in his office when he gave me the time to share what was on my heart.
Looking into his eyes, I realized that, in the time we had spent together, my father had given me a glimpse of my heavenly Father.