From Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul

Father Knows Best

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

It went without question. I would take my walk down the aisle alone.

As a young girl, I daydreamed that my natural father would show up like “Wonderdad” on the day of my wedding, clad in a tuxedo, ready to walk me down the aisle. In these naïve fantasies, he’d have a justifiable excuse for not being in my life, and, of course, I’d forgive him.

During my teenage years, the fantasy changed somewhat. Focus on forgiveness for the father I’d never met was replaced by rebellion toward the father I’d been given.

I had chosen to call my stepfather “Dad,” and he had gladly accepted that. But that decision was the only thing we ever agreed on. In the perfect vision of hindsight, the road of disagreement went both ways, but I only saw it as a one-way street—headed the wrong way.

In the teenage daydream, l would stubbornly march myself down the aisle, unescorted by anyone. It would be my proclamation: I was an independent woman. I didn’t need to be “Daddy’s little girl.” Thankfully, I matured by the time I got engaged. “Revenge of the Bride” was not the theme of the day. Our differences had faded over the years, and we’d called an unspoken truce.

But the decision of anyone walking me down the aisle had already been made for me when shortly before my wedding, my dad had his leg amputated. He used a walker, unable to endure the painful chafing and soreness that occurred from a prosthetic leg.

Our marriage ceremony took place at a park in our hometown where my fiancé, David, and I had played as children. It had a picturesque bridge over a shimmering lake with two swans swimming side-by-side, and the lush, green grass and weeping willows gave it romantic appeal.

Arriving in the limo, I tried to focus on the beauty around us. I made the bridal walk down the path, past my seated family and friends—alone. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized I didn’t want to walk alone anymore. True, my dad was never Wonderdad, and we never resolved the issues between us, but he was the only father I had. The path seemed to go on forever, but finally there I was, standing beside David, ready to become his wife.

When the judge asked the guests who gave this bride to be wed, I literally stopped breathing. We never did this during the rehearsal. Would my mom speak up? She and I never discussed it. I sent a quick prayer up to heaven, begging to avoid an embarrassing situation.

“Her mother and I do.” I turned around and saw my dad, pulling himself up to a standing position despite the obvious discomfort and attention it drew. I searched his eyes, but they only stared straight ahead. Could it be he had thought of this moment before? Had he been disappointed in not walking me down the aisle?

For the first time in over twenty years, I considered the feelings of this man who I never thought of as a person. I’d made him out to be a monster. But he wasn’t a monster. He may not have been the perfect daddy of my dreams, but he was the father I’d been given.

When I realized my dad wasn’t going to meet my gaze, I turned to David and his reassuring smile, but I still felt a wave of guilt. I reminded myself there was no physical way my dad could have walked me down the aisle. But it was more than that. I should have seen him before, as I did today.

As I stood at the base of the bridge, I noticed the sign across the lake: “Welcome to Lord’s Park.” The name hit me. We were in his park, in his hands. It was time to forgive both the father I’d been given and the father I’d never met. The Father in heaven knew what was best for me, even when I had no clue what that was.

I may have not been my daddy’s little girl, but I had always been my Father’s little girl. I hadn’t made that walk down the aisle alone after all.

Abigail R. Gutierrez

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