Recently on American Idol, Kelly Clarkson performed her new song “Piece by Piece,”* which describes a little girl watching her father walking away from a relationship with her. Towards the end of her performance, Clarkson became quite emotional, which touched the lives of the audience and many of the viewers watching the televised show. Her story resonates with the lives of many of her listeners as they too have watched a parent walk away leaving them with feelings of unworthiness and confusion.
The saving grace in Clarkson’s song is that she sings of a man who stepped into her father’s place. She sings of someone who fills the holes, loves her and never leaves her. She finds in him difference between having a biological father and a dad. Many children have been fortunate to experience a stepparent or adopted parent’s love. It takes special people who choose the privilege of taking a hurting, broken child and raising them as their own. As the song indicates there are fathers who help heal children, “piece by piece, he restored my faith, that a man can be kind and a father could stay.” There is so much healing that happens when children can trust the love of the adults, especially their parents, in their lives.
I have worked very hard to identify the broken parts of me that resulted from a father/daughter relationship of emotional and spiritual abuse. Unlike Clarkson’s childhood experience, there are a number of ways that a child can feel unloved, worthless and unlovable even if the parent never leaves the home. Ultimately, like the song says, it is up to me to identify and change the learned behavior of abuse. Ms. Clarkson indicates, that because of a love of another “dad,” she was empowered to grow into the parent who stays and loves her children. I too have changed my experience so that my children feel and know my unfaltering love for them. They can trust my love and know that I will never leave them. My prayer is that they love their children with this same unfaltering love. It is a parent’s responsibility to love and nurture their children so that those children will grow to be adults secure in a parent’s love. With this loving experience they will raise their own children with this same trust and love. Clarkson’s song wrestles with hurt and rejection and how love and trust heals the painful experiences in life. “Piece by Piece” is a shining light of hope in a sometimes painful world.
Kelly Clarkson sings on American Idol..
*Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC