July 7, 2022
Last weekend Art and I watched the 2022 version of Father of the Bride starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan. They play the parents of a law school graduate who has come home and announced her engagement to a fellow graduate they’ve never met. Her news, delivered over a family dinner, upends their plan to announce that they are getting a divorce. Now they have a wedding to pull off in two months and decide their news must wait.
Nearly everything about the daughter’s situation goes against the traditional father’s expectations. First of all, she proposed to the fiancé. Second, they are planning to move to Mexico for a job she found with a nonprofit helping refugees. And third, the couple wants a small, intimate, non-church wedding. That is just the beginning of much drama and disagreement, which intensifies when the fiancé’s parents arrive from Mexico. More clashes ensue as the two fathers battle for control and cultural dominance. At the root of the discord is a toxic blend of ego, pride, and machismo.
As the story unfolds, the engaged couple navigate these turbulent waters with both confidence and compromise. They give the dads some wins while staying true to themselves and each other. They demonstrate flexibility, partnership, and grace. As her parents notice this, their eyes and hearts are opened to what has been missing in their own relationship.
This movie delivers multiple messages, even beyond marriage and family. There are two young adult daughters, both independent, confident, and determined to follow their own path. They represent the evolution of culture and family that is normal for their generation. This is met with resistance and even anger from their patriarchal father. He acknowledges his fear of losing not only his daughter, but their Cuban culture. As he faces his fears and pays closer attention to his daughters, he learns to embrace a different perspective. He discovers wisdom and grace which strengthen all the family relationships. In the end, nothing is lost and much is gained.
If we widen the lens of this tale, we can see some parallels in our human story and our culture. Each generation evolves and challenges outdated beliefs, laws, and social structures. The fear of change and loss often shows up as resistance, rigidity, and even cruelty. Those who feel a threat to their privilege and power drive their stakes deeper into old, hardened soil. This is not sustainable. If the father of the bride had refused to listen, learn, and grow, he would have lost the family he cherished. Instead, the values he held dear were enriched and transformed by a greater love. This is how we experience our humanity interlaced with divinity. As we move beyond ego and fear, we discover unexpected gifts of grace. We land on higher ground.
Take a look at your relationships with family, community, and culture. Where do you experience resistance? How does change affect your sense of security? What can you learn from a different perspective? We tend to forget how much we have to gain by loosening our hold on the way things were or how we think they should be. Change is inevitable, and the discomfort it brings is an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. We may not be able to control the changes around us, but we can draw strength and wisdom from the core of our being.
“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value…... Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power” (Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
Living from the inside-out, we bring our true colors to an ever-changing world. We remember that what is Real and rooted in Love cannot be threatened.
Elisa J. Juarez