I would say, for one, it's so important for you to understand who is your God, who is this Father, who longs to father you, and spend time in the scriptures getting to know Him. You know, He is the one from whom all fatherhood, all the families derive their name, it says in Ephesians 3. And that actually, that scripture was transforming for me because I realized, well, wait, fatherhood, it doesn't start with man, it actually begins with God.
Like, He's the one who defines fatherhood because He's the first Father. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app.
This is Family Life Today. So, we just had a pretty interesting weekend with celebrating your dad's life. Oh, yeah. You didn't know I was going to bring that up?
No, I didn't know that's where you were going. You were smiling like, oh, we just went on a vacation. No, we, yeah, talk about that a little bit. Talk about your dad. We just had my dad's memorial on his birthday, where he would have turned 93. So, when you say the word dad, we all have different feelings about that. I have different feelings about that at different stages of his life and my life.
Because at the beginning, it was hard, I would have said I'm not seen. But there was a greatness about my dad in that he was always growing and getting better. And I get teary thinking about it. When he was 92, I was reading part of our book to him about parenting. And I read the part where I first started getting to know my dad.
Because when I was younger, he didn't really see me or pay attention to me. And he stopped when I was reading that. And he said, hey, I want you to know, I'm really sorry for that. I'm sorry I didn't see you.
Sorry I didn't pay attention to you. I was wrong. And it's crazy because when I was growing up, he never once apologized.
He thought it was weak to even say those words. So, I mean, I feel like that's such a great attribute of being able to keep growing and getting better as you get older. Yeah. And today we get a chance to talk a little bit about the power of a father. Not that moms have incredible power as well. But we've got Cheyenne Blairlin in the studio today.
You've written a book called Finding My Father. But first of all, we want to say thanks for being on Family Life today. Thanks for having us. It's good to be here, yeah.
We're excited to have you. Yeah. Let me ask you this. What do you know about Family Life today? Anything? Is this new to you?
Do you have a background? No, it's not new for me. So I've listened to Family Life today for years. It's the best show you've ever heard. It's incredible.
It's a great show. I mean, I heard it when it was with the Rainies, Dennis Rainey. So I don't know how it is now these days.
I'm not sure. But it was great back then. Bob Lapine as well.
Yeah. Bob mentored us for the last three years, and now he's pastoring in Little Rock. Anyway, you know what Anne just said about her dad? He was my high school baseball coach. So I knew him as a friend of the Barons.
And then, you know, it's funny. He barred me from the house when I wanted to date her. Dave had a very bad reputation.
Don't even go into it. It was warranted. I should have been barred from the house. But he didn't know. I'd just given my life to Christ. But again, he was a pretty great father.
Like Anne said, there were some obviously negatives. But as I read your book, Blair, about finding my father, I found my story a lot in your story. But let's talk. Let's just, you know, first do this. Tell our listeners a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Because I bet I don't even know the half of it. Yeah. So, you know, we live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We've been there for... And you love it there, right?
Not quite. We've been there almost seven years. You know, I was raised in California. So that's probably why I don't love Philadelphia as much.
That's all you need to know right there. The weather's hard. I know. The weather is just perfect. And there's beaches very close to you.
She's looking at you shy. I know. I am a poet. I've been writing poetry since I was nine years old, writing gospel-centered poetry since I became a believer, speaker, Bible teacher. A Bible teacher.
We have three beautiful children, Sage, Maya, and Ezra. And I have a wonderful husband who's next to me. Wait. And you're an actress.
Oh, yes. And I, yes, I have. I started acting when I was nine as well. And actually it's funny because once I became a believer, I did wrestle with acting, whether or not I would continue to do it.
Could I honor the Lord with that particular artistic expression? And I wrestled. And so now I've had a few opportunities to go back into it just as a believer and work on some projects with other believers. So I'm really excited.
I'm excited to explore. Now, how did you two meet? We met in Long Beach, California. So we both were invited to an event and we kind of met in passing. And after that, we kept getting invited to different events around the country. Just kind of kept running into each other and speaking on panels and things like that. And I guess we ran into each other or was there any stalking going on? There may have been some slight stalking happening. What did that look like? The truth.
Odd line. I was just investigating, just finding out, you know, who's this beautiful woman that I'm constantly running into and that kind of thing. But we got invited to the same conference and I got to really see her do her poetry, I think, really live for the first time and was just blown away, was just blown away by the Christ-centeredness of it and just the passion for the Lord Jesus. And so we had a chance to have a conversation at that conference. And then that's when the real stalking began. I'm going to talk about that.
Yes. It was funny because when I saw Shai, actually, he was teaching on Christ and just the gospel-centeredness. It struck me so much. There was actually a guy who was pursuing me, but I just felt like my heart leapt a bit as he was teaching.
I was like, oh, well, what is that? Do I need to rebuke that? What's going on? Because, you know, this guy was pursuing me, the Lord in his sovereignty, shut that door. And then we were at this conference together like a month or so later.
And so, yeah, yeah, the Lord. What do you want to talk about? How you start stalking me after?
Oh, it has to be both sides. I think there was an email or something. Oh, there was a thank you email.
He'd come hear me do poetry. A thank you email. I just said, thank you. We know. And then he responded.
He responded asking, what's your testimony? You know? And so it was a back and forth exchange for a few months.
And I really started looking forward to those emails. I bet. Yeah. How many years?
Been married 12 years. Wow. Yeah. But you dated long distance for a while.
Yes. We did. We did. I mean, it wasn't that long because it was about a year after we started dating that we got married.
But I had a lot of events in Southern California at that time. And so got a chance to get to know each other. You know, one of the things that I didn't realize when Ann and I got married was my relationship or sort of a broken relationship with my father. I didn't have any understanding of the depth that I was carrying baggage of that into my new marriage. And I mean, this 41 years later, there's still baggage. So let's hear your story a little bit because I'm guessing you brought some of that, both of you, you know, into your marriage just like we did.
Yeah. So, you know, my story is I was raised by a single mother. She raised my sister and I and moved us to Los Angeles from Michigan when I was three years old. What part of Michigan?
Grand Rapids, Michigan. And we struggled. You know, my dad lived in Chicago, so he was thousands of miles away. And so I would have a relationship with my dad.
If you could call it a relationship, it was really phone conversations, maybe a few times each year. There might be some years where I didn't hear from him, but it was just over the phone. And I remember as I began to grow older, I just longed for something more. I longed to really know my dad. I wanted to be known by him. And even at nine years old or so, I thought, I just really want to speak and share with him. Like, that his absence is impacting my life in many ways.
At that time, it was only really relationally that I saw. It wasn't until I got older and realizing, wait, you know, the struggle with not being able to have much. We moved 25 times, you know, from that first move to Los Angeles until I was able to get my own apartment. 25 times.
25 times, you know. So shelters, sleeping over at other people's homes, you know, my mom just scraping to get by. And she really did try to give us the best life that we could. Started me acting at nine and, you know, different classes and getting headshots and all of these on-camera acting classes and things. But we were living above our means, you know, we really couldn't afford that. And then as I began to get older, I realized I really am struggling with my identity.
I don't know who I am. I didn't have my father there to speak life to me. My dad was very kind. So when we did talk over the phone, he would say little things like, stars don't need no polish.
They always shine, you know. So he would, in his way, try to encourage me. But he was dealing with his own issues and, you know, his own things as well. So at nine, were you angry that he wasn't there? Like, what were some of the emotions that you faced, even as a young girl?
Right. I wouldn't say I was angry. You know, it's interesting because sometimes when you don't realize what you have, even though there's a loss there, you can't really put your finger on, you know, what that means for you. It wasn't until I was really 18, honestly, where I realized like, wait, okay, guys are expressing interest.
I don't even know what to look for in a guy. You know, I don't really know who I am. I'm struggling in all these ways. And that's when I've had my first conversation with him where I just laid it all out there and said, I've been afraid for almost 10 years to speak to you and share with you that you being absent is impacting me. And I'm really hurt by it. And he told me, he says, you know, I've been afraid to.
I haven't had my dad in my life. You know, not that that's an excuse, but just like, I don't really know what I'm doing myself. But it helped me to see, I think, his humanity in it. Yeah. When he said that, I mean, that was his response. Yeah. Did it soften your pain or did it, I don't know, I'm sitting here thinking, man, that's a different response than I thought was coming or maybe you thought was coming. Right.
Yeah. I thought he was gonna, I don't know, I thought having that conversation, you know, my dad would be almost like this superhero who would swoop in, save the day and, you know, and say, oh, apologize, maybe, and try to make it right. I think him expressing his own pain and his own fears and burdens, it just caused me to say like, oh, well, he's just as broken as I am.
He's just as needy as I am. It helped me to see that the very thing that I was trying to get from him, he really didn't have it to give. And where was your faith at that time? At the time I was a professing believer, so I was regularly attending church. I was very active in the church. I was always kind of considered the good girl.
Good girl. And I was acting. So I was a part of a church that was more prosperity focused. So it was like, oh, God's blessing you.
You're doing these TV shows, so you must be a virtuous woman. So I thought that, yeah, God is blessing me. And it was only maybe three years later that I actually came to Christ. Someone shared the gospel with me very clearly. And I realized that other people aren't going to be the standard, you know, when it comes to how I am before the Lord, I have to look to the scriptures and see how does God see me? And when I began to do that, I realized my self-righteousness is not going to cut it, that I need a righteousness that's not my own. And that's when I put my faith and my trust in Jesus for the first time. How old were you?
I was 22. And then I started to realize, well, wait, God can be a father to me. But that came, I think, a little later in that I looked at God almost through the lens, I think, of my pain and brokenness. So, you know, I was like, oh, yeah, God has forgiven me. Here's God. He's holy.
I'm unworthy. He's forgiven me of my sins. Praise be to God.
But I didn't see, well, wait. And He's a loving, heavenly Father who lavishes me with His care and love. And, you know, He wants to be this Father to me. It took me time to get there. It took me really spending time in the Scripture versus looking at it just through the lens of, man, my own dad doesn't seem to really want to have this relationship with me. How could God want this relationship with me?
Was that a hard transition? This could be for you, Shai, as well. Because, you know, I know that we often, and you're talking about it right now, we project onto our heavenly Father what we believe about our earthly Father.
We don't even know we're doing it. But mine was always, because He was never there, I struggle with God's presence. You know, people say, God's with you. I'm like, what's that mean? I don't believe you. I read it.
I see it. It's true scripturally, but I don't sense it. So that was my sort of, I had to get over, no, your heavenly Father really is literally right here. Was there anything you struggled with in terms of that? Not necessarily His presence, no. I think because of my background, actually was quite emotionally based. So it wasn't the emotion.
It was the love. It was, God has pursued you. He loves you with an everlasting love.
It's not based upon anything that you've done, you know, like, you know, and if you sin, He's not going to snatch it away. Because I think oftentimes as a child, even when it comes to our earthly Father, we center ourselves around, like, the reason my dad is not here, it must be something wrong with me. I must have done something to disappoint him.
And maybe if I fix myself or get myself together, then he'll stay. And so, you know, it can kind of send us into this perfectionism and wanting to please. And so it was the same way with God. You know, I wanted to please Him, which we should want to please God. But in that works-based way, you know.
Not to have to perform for His love. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.
Exactly. Shai, what about you? What's the story of your dad? Yeah, so I grew up also in a single-parent home.
My mom raised myself and my older sister. And my dad was around periodically. So it was pretty sporadic throughout my youth.
Over time, it became a kind of thing where I would have to pursue him if we were going to interact. And I think as I got older, I began to resent that and to resent him by the time I was later in my teens, 17, 18, I was angry. I was furious at my father for not being there. And I think the older I got, the more I recognized the different deficits and the things that I would have liked to have known, but didn't.
Because I didn't have a dad there to teach me those kinds of things. And so I had a lot of bitterness and rage towards my dad. And I was also converted as an early adult. So 24 years old, brand new Christian, the world just seeing everything through new eyes. And I realized very early on that I needed to forgive my dad.
And so at that point, we hadn't spoken for at least a decade. And so I reached out to him one day as a new believer and said, can we talk? And so I went to his house and I think I had built it up in my mind. Like it was just going to be this kind of climactic moment we were going to embrace. He was going to ask for forgiveness. I was going to share the gospel.
He was going to get saved. This is good. It's like a Hallmark movie. Exactly. Soundtrack behind it. That's right. That's right.
Chariots of Fire. But yeah, when I met up with him, he was very kind of matter of fact about it. And I said, why weren't you around? And he said, you know what?
My dad wasn't there when I was growing up. And so kind of did the same thing. Basically, you got to get over it. How'd you walk away from that feeling? Very disappointed. Yeah, disappointed. And after that, I didn't talk to him again for another seven years after that.
Yeah. And so it was just a process of just struggling, trying to forgive him. Were you more angry with him after that or? No, I wouldn't say I was more angry.
I think it was just more deflated maybe. But seven years later, I was at a coffee shop and there's a guy in front of me and he turns around and it's my dad. No way. You had no idea.
Had no idea. And so he looks at me and I say, hey, hey, dad. Seven years later. Seven years later and he looks at me and he says, I feel like I'm looking in the mirror right now because we look so much alike. I was an adult at that point, you know?
Wow. And so that was the kind of a chance meeting we met then. And then next time I saw him was at my grandmother's funeral.
His mom died. And so, yeah, we've never been able to connect relationally, even up to this day. It's been very difficult.
Mm hmm. Is there a deficit you feel still or is it something that God's healed or is healing? I definitely still feel it.
Really? So here I am in my 40s. And, you know, there's an example of I did an internship at a church in Washington, D.C. and it was a pastoral internship. And I was with the other interns and we were doing one of the sessions was on budgeting and finances. And as the instructor is kind of going through different things, these are things that I'm hearing for the first time. And I'm in my 30s and I'm just being blown away like, wow, this is amazing. I turned to one of my fellow interns and I'm like, are you getting this? Like, this is great.
And he's like, my dad taught me this when I was a kid. I was like, you know, and so even going into marriage, there was a lot of trepidation, just feeling like, man, am I even ready for this? You know, there's so much there's been so much lack throughout the years. But God has been really gracious in providing members from our church, our local church to kind of help fill in those gaps. And so one of the things that we did when we were dating was we went on basically like a tour, like a couple's tour. We would just go to different couples houses and just find out, OK, just talk to us. Tell us everything. Like, what have you been doing?
What works, what doesn't work? And the church we were at was just really, it was just great. There was so many godly couples that we could glean from. And so that was really helpful for us. Yeah, I think sometimes even when we think about our spiritual adoption, we think about God becoming our Father, but we forget that we have a family in the church as well, that this is what we've been given as believers.
And it has been a huge blessing to have so many people that we can pull on. I mean, based on both of your experiences, what do you say to a person possibly listening right now, I'm sure a lot, that grew up without a dad? Maybe they're younger, maybe they're adults now, but they had the same experience that you had, I had, and maybe they're struggling with that deficit.
What do you say to them? You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Blair and Shailene on Family Life Today. Stick around for Blair's answer, you're going to want to hear it. But first, our mission at Family Life is to pursue the relationships that matter most.
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Again, you can give at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to Blair Lynn and what we all need to remember about God, especially those without a good earthly father. I would say, I think that the Lord does heal us. Of course, we're being sanctified.
It's a process. I would say for one, it's so important for you to understand who is your God, who is this father who longs to father you and spend time in the scriptures getting to know him. He is the one from whom all fatherhood, all the families derive their name, it says in Ephesians 3. And that actually, that scripture was transforming for me because I realized, well, wait, fatherhood, it doesn't start with man. It actually begins with God. Like, he's the one who defines fatherhood because he's the first father. And so I think spending more time and seeing, okay, when he says, I'll never leave you nor forsake you, when he says his promises to you, this is different. It's not the same as the broken promises you may have received from your earthly father.
So I think starting there is important. I think also seeing, Lord willing, that the church would be a refuge to the fatherless. To the fatherless, I see so many scriptures where God tells us to have a heart for the fatherless. Sometimes we think of the fatherless as the orphan, but it's like the person who doesn't have their father. There are many even single parents, you know, or children who are being raised by single parents who are right in your pew.
And maybe you have had a wonderful father who's talked to you about, you know, many different things. Maybe you can pour into that person who's right there in your pew. Or if you are the fatherless child, seek out those who, you know, godly men who are around you or those you see being fathered, like we did and like we're doing, you know, to say, we don't have this all figured out.
You know, it's not like, okay, you know, it's not the prosperity gospel in the sense of like, once you come to Christ, your whole life is going to be, you know, vroom, vroom, vroom, you know, everything's going to be great. It's like, no, we're working, we're growing in our sanctification. We're becoming more like our father as days go on. And then also knowing like forgiveness, it's a process. It takes time. Sometimes we have to forgive over and over again, especially if our parents are still near to us. Those wounds can be opened again and again. And so sometimes even when we think about forgiveness, we think it's this one and done and no, you know, you need to forgive again at times.
Yeah, I think those are a few things that I think of that might be helpful. Hey, then come to your mind, Chi, because I know that I was in my 30s before I forgave my dad. I think I was in my late 20s when I started the healing process.
Well, a lot of it was because I remember him, our kids were playing on the floor, but Dave looked at them and he said, how could my dad leave me at that age? And so I think it began this process, but I think a lot of listeners have never started that journey. And you both not only started it, but as I'm sitting here, I'm saying, wow, you've been through almost complete healing. Not that it's ever complete, but it really is. So again, I'm thinking that listeners like, I'm not there yet.
Or where do I begin? What do you think, Chi? I think recognizing the deficit that it's there, because I think what we can do is try to paper over it, act like it's not there, try to deny it. But just to be very honest with ourselves and say, you know what?
It's there and it exists. And I need to look to the Lord to begin to heal those wounds. And our God is a healer.
He knew exactly what he was doing when he placed us in the different family situations that we ended up in. And God, in his mercy and in his kindness, desires to be the father that's far beyond any earthly father that we could ever imagine. So ultimately, we have to acknowledge the deficit, look to him, and prayer is going to be a very big part of this. And just being very honest before God and just crying out to him. And ultimately, the healing comes through looking to Christ and trusting in him. And I think that's so beautiful just to think we can be honest with God.
He knows it already, right? We don't have to put on airs. We don't have to pretend. We can be honest and we can share, this is how I'm hurting. Here's where my pain is.
This is overwhelming. You know, or I don't know what to do. Or I'm angry. Or I'm angry, absolutely.
Or I can't forgive right now. And I think in our honesty, that's where when we confess that to the Lord, we find true healing and help and freedom and freedom. Absolutely. And it takes away the shame. There can be shame related to not having your dad, you know, and crisis. You know, I'm taking that away. You know, like, this doesn't have to reside here anymore because I'm here.
Yes. You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Blair and Shailene on Family Life Today. Their book is called Finding My Father, How the Gospel Heals the Pain of Fatherlessness.
You can get a copy at familylifetoday.com. You ever wonder where that line is between what's constructive criticism and what's actually tearing someone down? Anne Wilson's words feel so relatable to me. She says, how many times have I used my words to tear Dave down and to destroy him thinking I was helping him and doing good when all the time I had this power to influence to be able to speak life into him?
Wow. Could your relationship use a shift towards using words to respect and cherish each other? Well, check out our marriage studies at familylifetoday.com and use the code 25OFF.
That's 25OFF to save today and beef up your communication so your marriage becomes more life giving to both of you. Now, coming up tomorrow, the weight of Blair Lynn's poor upbringing with her father and family life shaped a lot about her future, which had her asking the question, how can you make a conscious effort to leave a positive legacy within your own family? Well, she's going to answer that question tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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