He Gave Me Away
I tried to busy myself with the dirty countertops and listened with a knot in my throat. Jim, my soon-to-be husband, closed his eyes and pressed his cheek against the receiver. "I really think you should walk her down the aisle," he said.
We looked at each other and I knew the silence on the other end of the phone was the answer. My chest tightened and I could feel my cheeks flush. The pressure behind my eyes threatened to pound a crack into the dam holding back my pooling tears.
Jim looked at me with apology written on his face, and as he continued to plead with my dad, I slipped away. I went to my room and curled into a ball on the bed. The tears came. Quick and hot. "God!" I cried out. "What do I do? How could something so beautiful and blessed turn into something so painful and raw?" I buried my face farther into the pillow and wrapped my arms around my knees. I could feel my heart thudding into the mattress as a warm peace trickled through my body.
A calm, gentle voice whispered, "I will walk with you. I will hold your hand, and I will not disappoint you. I have made this man for you, and I will give you to him on your wedding day. Trust me and hold tightly to my promises."
Isaiah 41:10 lingered across my mind: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
As my tears subsided and my heartbeat slowed, a blanket of hope spread over me. I knew God was for me, and I could rest in the fact He had seen my heartache.
One month later we arrived in Florida and scoped out a tiny, secluded beach where we could hold the ceremony. We had tried to take out any need for an aisle, and though I was incredibly excited, I begged God to protect my heart from the pain of not having my dad involved.
The next day, I stepped out of the car in my white dress and flip flops and started to make my way towards the sand where my groom was waiting. I hadn't noticed it the day before, but a long boardwalk stood between the parking lot and the beach. My heart was racing with anticipation and I stepped onto the wood paneling. Suddenly, the quiet voice came back. "Do you feel me here with you? This is your aisle, and I am walking with you, just as I promised. I am proud of you, and I will give you the strength to be the wife you need to be." My pace slowed, and my head dipped in awe. Jesus had kept His promises in such an intimately flawless way. Even when I tried to guard my own heart, He stepped in, took my hand, and spoke the words I desperately longed to hear.
Jim and I stood barefoot, facing each other in front of a few witnesses. We exchanged vows and publicly praised God for the blessings we had found in each other. We danced in the shadows of the fading sun, and as the brilliance of the sunset panned across my husband's face, I realized more had changed that day than I thought.
It wasn't just about the wedding, or the fact I had been joined to the man of my dreams. God had held my hand through it all. He had walked me through the disappointment and pain, and had replaced my shattered hope with a heart full of joy. Psalm 23:2-3 says, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." That day, He led me down to the water's edge and restored my soul. He meticulously stitched my heart into the framework of the man who took my hand from His own, and showed me He would strengthen me, heal me and uphold me, because He was always with me.
Unfortunately today, the pattern of absent fathers is not a dwindling issue. In fact, I am afraid that more and more precious brides will be faced with the same dilemma I was. If another man is not available to walk with you on your special day; a man whom you know, trust, and has adequate stand-in qualities, pray about it and ask God for His help. Although not having my father involved was difficult and painful, I wouldn't have changed the outcome for the world. It is true that no one can take the place of our earthly dads better than an all-loving, all-encouraging, and all-healing Heavenly Father.
Kara is a freelance writer living in Boise, Idaho. She is a mentor for high school and college aged girls, and she and her husband both share a passion for singles ministry. She is a writing student in the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, and her articles have appeared on Michael Smalley's Crashintolove website, The Lookout, Treasure Valley Christian News, and Gobigtoday.com.