I’m Phil Robertson’s Daughter. My Dad’s First 4 Words to Me Were Exactly the Ones I Needed to Hear
by: Phyllis Robertson Thomas
When I was growing up, it was just us boys. Four rowdy, insensitive, crazy boys. So imagine my surprise when, late last year, I received a random letter from a lady who claimed to be my sister. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, but after DNA testing, it was confirmed — I did indeed have a sister.
I have to tell you, even though she was conceived during Dad’s “rough” patch, and even though we had never laid eyes on her until a few months ago, we could not be more excited to finally have Phyllis in our family. More and more, we are even discovering that she shares many of the Robertson “idiosyncrasies.” The icing on the cake for us is that she is a radical believer in our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
YES! She is definitely one of us. No doubt about it. And I love her.
Lisa and I are proud to share Phyllis’ blog with you. I pray that it encourages you to seek out the God of redemption and hope. He makes messages out of our messes.
On November 30, 2019, I learned through DNA testing that the man who raised me was not my biological father. This set off a chain of events that led me to a new and wonderful family and the most positive outcome one could imagine. Not everyone’s story ends the way mine has, yet the journey between November and now has seen many ups and downs, feelings of disappointment, offerings of grace, and a heart of gratitude. How did I get where I am today considering I had every reason to feel shocked, disappointed, afraid, and unforgiving?
My first course of action was to soldier on, focusing my efforts on finding my biological father. What a wonderful distraction! Research and discovery took my mind off the greater issue of grief and loss. I determined to contact this father, not knowing how or if I’d be welcomed.
When I received that first phone call from family, that first reciprocal connection, the flood gates opened, and I cried on the phone with a total stranger, a first cousin, who responded with compassion and explained to me that mine was a story of redemption, of beauty from ashes, of the only good coming from a man’s evil and wayward past. Now this man of God, my earthly father, devotes his very life to loving people, teaching the Bible, bringing people to the feet of Jesus and repentance, and baptizing them by the thousands. As a believer myself, what more could a girl like me ask for?
That first call framed every facet of what followed as brothers, sisters-in-law, and a special mom, Miss Kay, reached out to me. I felt loved and accepted, reminded that God was doing something big. When I finally met my dad on February 21, 2020, his first words were “I had no idea.” I told him those were the best words he could have spoken to me. You see, if he’d known about me and never found me, I would have been devastated. Those words allowed me to offer grace and compassion. I could see in his own eyes feelings of shock, disappointment, and even embarrassment. He had no idea.
Now that I’ve met my new family and made preparations to move near them so that I can get to know them, especially my aging dad and special mom, I’ve had time to really explore how I feel and work through those emotions. Once I started to unpack the grief and loss, I recognized the anger and sadness in myself. Anger and sadness, grief and disappointment are part of the seasons of the human condition. But God does not want us to bear these burdens on our own. He wants us to cast our cares on Him, because he cares for us. When we allow that truth to frame our emotions, we allow the Holy Spirit to work in the situation and turn what the enemy meant for harm into a powerful story of faith, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Otherwise, we become bitter and carry the heavy weight of unforgiveness.
Yes, a casual relationship led to my birth. At the time, neither my mother nor father considered this. That irresponsibility leading to my very existence is theirs to work through. My father didn’t know and my mother chose life. God knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb and he had a plan and purpose for my life. I’ve held on to that truth for as long as I can remember.
My response to my parents’ sin is forgiveness. Even if I had been rejected by my birth father, the real benefactor of forgiveness is the one who offers it. I am the one who is set free when I don’t keep a record of wrongs; I can move forward and walk the path that God has set before me. He orders my steps, and I trust Him. My identity is in Him, not in my birth mother or father. I have been crucified in Christ, and I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me. By following Jesus’ example of grace, healing and restoration are there to mend my broken heart and replace those feelings of grief, sadness, disappointment, and anger with joy, gratitude, and peace.