Last Saturday, my 18-month old daughter was the flower girl in her cousin’s wedding. Daniela just learned to walk a month ago, so we questioned whether she would make it down the lengthy, red-carpeted aisle.
|Daniela on the red carpet|
Sure enough, about a quarter of the way down the aisle, Daniela stopped and froze in place. The ring bearer did his best to gently tug at her arm, but she wouldn’t budge. When the bride’s mother urged me to intervene, I jogged down the aisle to my daughter, bent down, and said, “Come on, Daniela, let’s go.”
I was afraid she would resist, forcing me to pick her up and carry her. But when she saw me, she smiled, took my hand, and we began slowly walking down the aisle together as the guests and wedding party chuckled.
As we walked hand-in-hand towards the altar, it hit me – there I was, walking my daughter down the aisle. My heart ached a bit as I realized that the next time we took these steps at a wedding, it would be her wedding.
Her little hand in mine took on a whole new meaning as we neared the end of the aisle, where there stood a beaming young groom, waiting for his bride. He’s a gentleman who is kind, self-controlled, well-raised, and deeply respected by those who know him best – the type of man I hope my daughter will marry one day.
Later in the day, it occurred to me that, by the time she is old enough to marry, I will have little control over the man she chooses. She will be too old for me to pick her up and take her in the right direction, so the process of leading her to a good man is something that starts now, while the altar is still far away.
To get her moving in the right direction, I’ve already begun affirming her daily through words and affection. It’s my hope that, in receiving that kind of attention from me, she will be less likely to sacrifice her body and soul to get it from a flattering, halfway-interested man-boy.
More importantly, I’m becoming more and more conscious of the way I speak to her mother. I’m Daniela’s primary example of how a man should treat a woman, and if her mom has to live with a guy whose comfortable regularly being a jerk, then Daniela may assume she deserves to live with the same kind of man one day.
Finally, I’m focusing more on my role as a spiritual leader in our home. I sing Christian kids’ songs to my daughter, talk to her about God’s love, and pray blessings over her before I lay her down to sleep. I’m hoping that, in doing so, I will help her understand the central role our faith plays in a serious love relationship.
As a dad, these are some of the ways I’m meeting my daughter early in her trip down the aisle, stooping down, and saying, “Come on, Daniela, let’s go.” And I hope that, when the time comes, the way I raised her will lead her into the arms of a man who loves her even more than I do.