a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families…

Psalm 68:5-6

In my teenage years I had many “adopted” sisters. Most of them were around my age and all of them were going through the same struggle – they were unmarried and pregnant. Within the church, my dad was the dad that they would come to for help. He would get them any assistance they needed and bring them into our family. Their fathers, if present, had rejected them. Their mothers were appreciative of our family, but silent in the situation.

A mentor’s presence in the life of a young person declares to him or her, “You are not rejected. You are important and valuable – you matter.”

I remember struggling with the fact that I had to share my dad and that sometimes their crisis would overshadow my “normal” existence. He provided so generously for them in their need. Meanwhile, I got a job and took on many of my needs by myself. Resentment began to sneak in and I decided that instead of feeling this hurt, I’d just make it a point to live independently. “I, julia, will be the type of female that takes care of herself. I will never find myself in crisis and be forced to depend on strangers. I will never drain the resources of others because of my choices. I will never expect anything from anybody and if I have need of anything, I’ll just get it myself…”


Mentoring is about answering God’s call, joining with him as he rewrites the broken story of a generation. Mentoring mirrors God’s pursuing heart.

My dad was doing the right thing. With compassion, he answered God’s call to step up to the plate and be a portion of what those girls were so deeply in need of. Their fathers had deserted them and he opened his heart and the warmth of our family to them. Through the years, God began to break my pride and show me that sharing my father may have been painful, but it set me up to understand His love in a very important way. I am the prodigal son’s brother. I didn’t live a wild life and bring shame and disappointment on my Father’s name. But being unwilling to share the Father’s love is a gross misunderstanding of its depth. In this, I had failed Him. In this, I had missed the mark.

And my father said, ‘Daughter, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours – but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This sister of yours was dead, and she’s alive! She was lost, and she’s found!’ [Luke 15:31-32 adapted from Msg]

I now find myself partaking in the task of sharing the Father’s love. I have found that there is more than enough to give away freely and more than enough to sustain the work He has called us to.  I also find myself receiving His love from many, though I had set my mind not to. Through the years, mentors have come along to speak wisdom and listen intently as I continue my journey. I can never be a father, but I have two fathers. One on this earth and One who designed this earth. It is not only my responsibility to defend the cause of the fatherless, but also to share with them my fathers and the love they have given so extravagantly.


[fatherless generation] chapter 9: father to the fatherless

by Julia Swodeck time to read: 3 min