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Jul 19

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On giving and receiving

By Greg Asimakoupoulos

This coming Sunday I’ll walk my middle daughter down the center aisle of a Chicago church. In over thirty years as a clergyman, I have performed countless weddings. But this will be the first one as father of the bride. I have it all rehearsed in my head.
I am guessing that I’ll feel something like a sliver in my heart as my feet progress slowly in our forward direction. Though I’ll be thrilled beyond description that my baby’s now a bride, I’m anticipating there will be a bittersweetish splinter that can’t be tweezered out. You know what I mean? A shard that’s caused by memories of all those precious years planting seeds of faith and wisdom as her mentor and her dad. I fully expect that sliver in my heart will fester the rest of my life. But that’s not a bad thing. I’d classify that under the category of “good grief.”
Upon reaching the front, I’ll kiss Allison on the cheek before placing her hand in the hand of the tux-clad man who will be patiently waiting. When asked “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” I will respond with a catch in my throat, “Her mother and I!”  I’m also fairly certain there will be a knot in my stomach as I continue up the steps to the chancel of the church to take over officiating the rest of the knot-tying ceremony.
Giving another man the daughter you’ve spent a quarter of a century investing in and nurturing is not easy. Someone has likened this transaction to handing over a priceless Stradivarius violin to a gorilla. Hyperbolic? Perhaps. Accurate? Absolutely! As capable and trustworthy as sons-in-law may be, they never are deserving of daddy’s little girl. The offering dads are called to contribute at the front of a church is a painful sacrifice.
But I must admit the anticipated pain of that impending sacrifice was minimized while spending a few days on vacation. At the lake I had an insight about “giving away my daughter” that was reassuring. As I worshiped at a little Episcopal Church, the congregation was invited to verbalize the prayer of St. Francis. “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace…” When we got to the part of the prayer where it says “For it is in giving that we receive…” I felt a check in my spirit. God was speaking to me. I realized there was more to the upcoming wedding that giving away my daughter. I would also be gaining a son.
Living in a home with one wife, three daughters and two female Shih Tzu dogs, I have been outnumbered for years. That said, Tim will be a welcomed addition. At last someone with which to do manly things. And since my son-in-law was raised without a dad, I will have the privilege of being a father figure in his life. Yes, in giving I will receive.
The fabric of the Christian faith is replete with that pattern. For example, Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given to you.” (Luke 6:38) St. Paul observed, “A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) But it’s not just a Christian principle. A Jewish proverb claims, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more.” (Proverbs 11:24). I would contend that the principle of “receiving through giving” is a universal axiom.
And a wedding is just one opportunity to validate the truth of that axiom. In everyday life we are invited to give up something we prize. It could be our money, our time, our rights or having the last word. Ultimately, we all have a choice of holding on or letting go.

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