Several years ago, my mom shared this personal story by Michael Wilcox (found in his book entitled Walking on Water and Other Classic Messages).
When Michael was a baby, his father left his mother and she raised her children alone. Through the years his Dad’s choices caused a lot of pain and heartache for their family. As a teenager, Michael felt a need to pray for peace, healing and help forgiving his dad. So he did, and no answer came. He kept at it, and through the next several years, he prayed for the same thing. But no answer came. When he was in his 30’s (married, with two girls and two boys of his own), he was asked to give a talk in church about families. He sat down to decide what to say, assuming he would just talk about his mom. But the Spirit whispered “Talk about your Dad.”
My dad? He wondered. What in the world would I say? But Michael felt prompted to think about him.
Then his two boys, ages 6 and 2, came into the room and just stood there looking at him. In that moment, hundreds of memories he had shared with these two little guys flooded his mind- many little everyday interactions as well as bigger moments. And suddenly an answer came- I am now ready to answer your question. Now that you are a father, now that you know a father’s love, would you be the son who lost his father, or the father who lost his son?
He gathered his sons into his arms and cried and cried- for all his father had missed.
Here is the quote that sums it all up:
“Why didn’t my Father in Heaven give me that answer at fifteen, or twenty-one, or twenty-five, or when I was married, or when my daughters were born? He needed to wait until I was a father of sons and had enough experiences with my boys to understand what a sweet thing it is to be a father and share memories with sons. The holding place had to be carved in my heart, and as soon as I could really receive and comprehend the answer, the Lord gave it to me. Maybe we are in the fourth watch, but the Lord is saying to us: I’ll answer your prayer. I’m aware of your needs. It is recorded in heaven, and I’m going to answer it. But right now in your life there’s no place for me to put the answer. Life will create a holding place, and as soon as you are able to receive it, I will give it to you.”
I have retold that story so many time over the last few years, and have found it to be SO true in my own life. So many times I have wanted an answer but I didn’t have a place to receive it- yet.
For several years I have talked about writing a song called “The Holding Place” because this story touched me so deeply. But I find that sometimes that becomes a problem- something I care so much about becomes difficult to sufficiently express. So it has taken a long time to write this one. A few years ago, Jon (my sweetheart) jotted down a poem for me, hoping it would help me work through the creative problems that stood in my way of finishing it. I saved the envelope he wrote it on 🙂 and used some of his ideas for the bridge. I appreciate his constant support.
Another interesting tidbit is that I had a hard time writing the music for a while because I felt that I couldn’t totally relate to a father leaving his family. I had a very steady and loving home-life growing up, so I wasn’t sure how to express what he had experienced. When my youngest went to school last fall, he struggled each day going to school (fortunately he LOVES school now and is all smiles). Big crocodile tears would roll down his face and he would ask “Why do I have to go to school?” It was then, during the days when I had to send him to school with tear-stained cheeks and worry about him all day long, that I wrote “tell me the reason, I’ll try to be brave, but it makes no sense and I feel afraid…”
Musically, my favorite part is the bridge- where the momentum increases from a pensive, thoughful backdrop to a pulse. “What should he tell them of the years gone by? Of hurts and hopes and heaven? They will understand in time…” and that winds back to the chorus. That part was the most fun to write.
One other funny fact- if you were to compare the sheet music to the recording you’d see there are several (unintentional) differences. You’d think I knew this piece inside and out after writing and editing it for several years, but I still ended up unintentionally changing lyrics and timing during the recording process! I decided to leave the changes for now because I think they’re kind of a fun, spontaneous addition :).
Click here to hear it! The Holding Place