“You Don’t Have To Do This”

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(View from the window of one of my favorite coffee shops)

There is a certain stop sign I will never forget.
On May 11, 2013, I sat in the passenger seat in front of that stop sign. My dad said, “You don’t have to do this, you know.” We were on our way to the ceremony cite on my wedding day. I was in my dress, my makeup was done, and I had my bouquet in hand. We needed to take a right turn at that stop sign to get to the wedding. “You don’t have to do this,” he had said. “We can turn left. It’s not too  late. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. We can still eat the cake, and your mom and I will go on the honeymoon. Just think for a moment. You don’t have to do this.”

A lot of people are horrified when I tell them this story. They seem to think that it reflects somehow on S, as if my dad hated him and didn’t want us to be married.

They miss the point.

What my father told me had nothing to do with S, or our future together, or anything about our relationship at all. It had everything to do with me, his daughter. In fact, I would say that his words at that moment were one of the greatest acts of love anyone has ever shown me.

You see, he was telling me that nothing else mattered to him but my well-being, my happiness. He was telling me that peoples’ opinions of me, the hours and months of planning, the money spent (his money spent), were nothing in comparison to making this huge decision. He let me feel the weight of what I was doing, and he gave me an out. If I had any reservations – any at all – we could turn left and life would move on. I didn’t have to do this. I wasn’t trapped.

I will never forget that.

I had spent 13 months planning that wedding. My dad had forked over a lot of money – money wasted if I had asked to turn left.
It didn’t matter. I was more important.
We turned right at that stop sign, and my dad walked me down the aisle 10 minutes later.

Too often, we are quick to tell people that they’ve made their bed and now they must lie in it. However, people are worth more than their consequences.

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