A Father’s Voice

By Robert W. Paris

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    Amid the many competing voices of life, whose voice can be trusted?

    My daughter Jacque and I once attended a Primary daddy-daughter party together. The girls had all prepared box lunches for the meal. For dessert, each father and daughter were to decorate a cake. Because I am a dentist, Jacque and I made a giant icing tooth on our cake. Of course, after the eating, there were games and contests.

    One of the games we played that night was a relay contest. The Primary leaders had placed four plastic bowling pins in a pattern on the floor of the cultural hall. Each father was to blindfold his daughter. Then he was to direct her through and around the pins, across the cultural hall, and then back to the starting point, where the next pair would begin. He was not to touch her with his hands; he could only use his voice to tell her which way to go. We were divided into two teams.

    It seemed such a simple game, but it was actually quite difficult. Most of the fathers would holler, “Go right!” or, “Go left!” or, “Stop!” or “Go straight!” But with both teams cheering loudly, it was easy for a girl to confuse the voice of the opposing team’s father with her own father’s voice. Often the two girls racing each other would get the instructions mixed up. Also, some of the fathers gave their instructions hesitantly, and so lost precious time. And some of the daughters did not follow the instructions accurately. They either went too fast or moved in the wrong direction and occasionally knocked down some pins.

    But there was one father and daughter who surprised us all. This father had a serious disease that interfered with his coordination. His movement and speech were slow. When it was their turn and the blindfold was in place, I heard the father say to his daughter, “Don’t worry about left or right or fast or slow. Just walk at a steady pace and listen to my voice. I’ll keep talking the whole time, and you just follow the sound of my voice.”

    At the signal they began, and he gently repeated over and over, “Just follow my voice,” or, “Don’t listen to the others, just to me.” I was amazed as they steadily walked with short steps right through the course, much faster than any of the others, so fast in fact that their team won.

    What an interesting lesson for all fathers and daughters. So often there are so many voices that call us and confuse us and get us off the right path. Fathers often think it is enough to yell for their children to go one way or another, to speed up or slow down, to do or not to do certain things. Often children have difficulty following such instructions.

    What a blessing if every young woman and young man could have a worthy father in this life who would say in words and actions, “Don’t worry about getting off the right path. Just follow my voice and example, and let me lead you home.” And what a blessing if every daughter and every son who has such a father would trust in him as he magnifies his priesthood and be willing to follow his direction and example.

    Of course we all have a Heavenly Father whose voice we can learn to discern over the competing noises of life. If we listen to this “still, small voice, we need not be confused by the many voices in the world or be pressured by the competition with others. With steady, sure steps we can progress along the proper path, missing obstacles that we cannot always see ahead us. We can all rely on our Father’s clear vision to guide us back home to him.

    Illustrated by Richard Hull